"God created dogs as companions to show us the principals of angelic behavior, service and love," says actor/author John O'Hurley, who will once again offer color commentary for the Thanksgiving Day National Dog Show Presented by Purina from noon to 2 p.m. (all time zones) on NBC.
Perennial show announcer David Frei adds, "Dogs allow us to be ourselves and not be embarrassed."
"Walk around the show (held at the Philadelphia Expo Center, just outside Philadelphia) and all you see are smiles," says O'Hurley. "I believe all those dogs bring out the small child in all of us."
With that idea in mind, last year O'Hurley took an on-camera backstage tour of the dog show with his then 3-1/2-year-old son for a feature segment called, "The Perfect Dog." O'Hurley recited a poignant poem about what a perfect dog might be. Here's a portion of the text:
"My son asked a question, as little boys do,
"Of me in my wisdom and all that I knew.
"'Is there a dog that is perfect?' he asked on a whim.
"Well, I thought and I thought about where to begin."
Then, he added,
"My son, with a smile, said out of the blue,
"With the wisdom of children that he already knew,
"The dog that is perfect is the one next to you."
The feature resonated with viewers, including Penguin book editors, who put O'Hurley's words to paper and added illustrations for what is now the children's book "The Perfect Dog" (Penguin Books, New York, NY, 2013; $8.95).
Announcing the dog show is more than just another gig for O'Hurley, who clearly admires furry friends.
"We can learn a lot from dogs," he says. "We sit next to people on the subway, or walk down the street and don't acknowledge these strangers. Dogs always acknowledge others, and see the value in all other dogs. Whether they like those other dogs or not, they acknowledge them. And mostly they do like one another. If we could acknowledge one another, we would have a better world."
Frei laughs and adds, "We wouldn't know anyone in New York City (where he resides) if it wasn't for Grace and Angel. They are clearly far more social than we are."
O'Hurley and Frei aren't alone. America clearly loves watching the dog show, which enjoys superb ratings. Frei says, "The sports programming people at NBC were genius. We're blessed to follow the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. And, of course, the family is home on Thanksgiving, so a certain number of people will tune in. And then we've got them."
O'Hurley adds, "Using the remote to switch away from the cute dogs -- impossible, I say. Look at those faces -- they are all perfect dogs."
Of course, only one of the 1,600 dogs participating in the National Dog Show will be voted most perfect as Best in Show. Last year's winner was a Wire Fox Terrier (the second consecutive year a Wire Fox Terrier won) named Sky.
Frei, who knows these things, says he believes Sky could have a shot at winning Best in Show again. No other individual dog has ever taken two consecutive Best in Shows.
"The dog's handler, Gabriel Rangel, has won two National Dog Show Best in Shows, so you know he knows how to get it done, and Sky loves to show," he adds.
Should you bet on Sky? Frei laughs and adds, "You never know who will win, but I do know it will be fun."
(Steve Dale welcomes questions/comments from readers. Although he can't answer all of them individually, he'll answer those of general interest in his column Send e-mail to PETWORLD(at)STEVE DALE.TV. Include your name, city and state. Steve's website is http://www.stevedalepetworld.com; he also hosts the nationally syndicated "Steve Dale's Pet World" and "The Pet Minute." He's also a contributing editor to USA Weekend.)
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