Tag Archives: American Humane Association

Stars Turn Out to Honor Hero Dogs

James Denton and Beth Stern

James Denton and Beth Stern

Marlee Matlin, Pauley Perrette, Larry Miller, Kellie Martin, Cristina Ferrare and Mark Steines were among the celebrity dog lovers who turned out the other night at the Beverly Hilton Hotel to honor a group of very special pooches at the American Humane Association’s Fourth Annual Hero Dog Awards. The awards will be shown on the Hallmark Channel Oct. 30.

With this year’s group of honorees representing one moving story after another, it was a four-hanky affair.

There were interesting stories on the human side as well. James Denton was a last-minute replacement for Terry Bradshaw, who bowed out of co-hosting duties with Beth Stern in the wake of the stunning news of the death of Bradshaw’s son-in-law, former Tennessee Titans player Rob Bironas, in an automobile accident. The former “Desperate Housewives” actor gamely dove in, getting some of his best laughs of the night via a video bit showing him “interviewing” dogs and other critters using a device that purportedly translated their thoughts.

Between takes, Denton asked Stern how come there had been so many “Desperate Housewives” Mike-the-plumber jokes through the evening, but not a single quip about Beth’s husband, Howard Stern. “It’s in my contract,” the beauteous blond Mrs. Stern replied with a dazzling smile. Then the “Kitten Bowl” host told the crowd that Howard was home taking care of their 15 cats. The Sterns, we are told, have successfully fostered and placed more than 50 cats to date.

Wilson Phillips performed. The ’90s favorites are in the midst of a string of concert dates right now, including one at Beverly Hills’ Saban Theatre last week during which Chynna Phillips’ mother, Michelle Phillips, joined them onstage to sing “California Dreamin'”. The last surviving member of the iconic 1960s group The Mamas and the Papas was present at the Hero Dog Awards also, looking lovely at age 70 in a flowing white gown.

Chynna talked to her “mommie” several times from onstage and it was as sweet as Wilson Phillips’ singing “God Only Knows” backed by photos of their dogs.

Of course, the night really belonged to the hero dogs and their stories. For instance, there was the tearful parting and joyous reunion of a soldier and his four-legged buddy after tours of duty in Afghanistan; the fluffy white friend who turned out to have a gift for early detection of a little girl’s life-threatening extreme allergic attacks; the amazing career of a 15-year-old search and rescue dog whose first assignment was Ground Zero after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. And the over-all winner of the 2014 Hero Dog Awards, Susie the therapy dog, a Pit Bull mix whose story of the healing power of forgiveness and love exemplifies what the event is all about.

Guide Dog Who Led Owner Down 78 Flights of Stairs on 9/11 Honored as Canine-loving Celebrities Turn Out for HERO DOG AWARDS

Carson Kressley, Darla the Cesar Spokesdog, Julianne Hough Hallmark Channel photo

Betty White, Julianne Hough, Michael Vartan, Pauley Perrette, Joey Lawrence, Victoria Stilwell, Faith Ford and a pack of other dog-loving celebrities turned out to honor extraordinary canines at the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards over the weekend.  There were lots of laughs with host Carson Kressley.  Presenters including Peter Fonda added memorable moments.  And performances by Five for Fighting’s John Ondrasik were beautiful and moving.   But clearly, the celebrities of the night were Sadie, Zurich, Stacey Mae, Bino, Sage, Harley, Ricochet and the late, great guide dog Roselle, who safely led her blind partner, Michael Hingson, down 78 flights of stairs in Tower One of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

Each Hero Dog’s story — with their amazing abilities and depth of devotion — is enough to bring tears to the eyes of animal lovers.  The show, airing Nov. 11 on Hallmark Channel, is not to be missed.

“I love dogs and any event that we can honor these great creatures, as much as they do for us, I want to be there for them,” Joey Lawrence told us before the start of the show that took place in the Grand Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel.  “I think it’s cool.”  (By the way, Joey has a Black Labrador, an Australian Heeler and a German Shepherd at home.)  

The “Melissa & Joey” star presented honors to Emerging Hero Dog Ricochet — a Golden Retriever who surfs with special needs children and disabled adults.  Video of Ricochet’s story of finding her own calling after being released from a service dog training program went viral with 3.6 million views.

Betty White, looking smashing in red, talked with a twinkle about her beloved Pontiac — her Golden Retreiver — before giving a presentation that ended with her literally dancing into the wings with Carson Cressley.  Carson’s “Dancing With the Stars” pro partner, Anna Trebunskaya, was on hand in the audience to cheer him on.  

Cesar canine cuisine sponsored the event, and the company’s Westie  spokesdog was there to present one of the awards with Pauley Perrette.  The “NCIS” actress cuddled the pooch and pronounced him (actually, it’s a her) her favorite copresenter ever before noting that you’ve got to love an awards show where it’s okay to have animal fur on your clothes.

Guests dined on seabass and tenderloin of beef accompanied by dauphinoise potatoes and herb grilled tomatoes, and a chocolate mousse dessert garnished with a white chocolate cartoon dalmation and a dark chocolate Hero Dog bone.

We caught up with Hingson backstage after Roselle was proclaimed the top dog among top dogs.   

Michael Hingson and Roselle

“She was a great dog.  I’m just so, so happy she was honored.  We’re really excited,” he said.  Hingson’s 9/11 experience with his faithful guide leading him down 1,463 stairs — occasionally being petted and greeted by firefighters on their way up — led him into a new career.  He’s working with Guide Dogs for the Blind, and has traveled all over the country and abroad giving keynote speeches that promote dogs, teamwork and trust.  He’s delighted that the Hero Dog Awards will raise even more awareness of the incredible assets of these canine companions.  “I’m hoping to have a chance to do more work with the American Humane Association,” he says.

“I loved her and I miss her so much,” he adds of the yellow Lab, who died just this past summer.  “I tell people that whenever someone wants in heaven, they ring the bell at the door and she barks, telling St. Peter, ‘Better get that.'”

Here’s hoping that this Inaugural Hero Dog Awards event will be the first of many, many more.