The Competition Was Ruff: The American Humane Hero Dog Awards

Dogs in tutus and bowler hats took over the Beverly Hilton for the 4th annual Hero Dog Awards


I have been to the Beverly Hilton for A LOT of award shows in the last twenty years. But this weekend was the first time that I have been to one where I sat between a Chihuahua in a pink dress and a Shih Tzu wearing a bowtie. Welcome to American Humane Association’s Hero Dog Awards.

Susie, a horrifically abused pitbull mix who found a new life as a therapy dog for attack victim Donna Lawrence, was by far the crowd favorite. Beware, spoilers ahead: she ended up taking home the big prize of the night (American Hero Dog!) along with the Tiffany & Co. trophy all the finalists/winners received. (Yes, the dogs all got a light blue box.) Susie and Donna helped get “Susie’s Law” passed in North Carolina—it calls for harsher penalties for convicted animal abusers. Their story inspired a made-for-tv-movie. Everyone dabbed their eyes with their napkins hearing each story, from that of military dog Chaney to one of the last 9/11 search and rescue dogs Bretagne. I have never stood for so many standing O’s.

When asked during a break what hubby Howard Stern was doing at that moment, at first host Beth Stern (she co-hosted with James Denton) answered, “Sleeping, it’s too late for him.” Then she fessed up. “We have fifteen foster cats at the moment. He is on kitten duty right now.” Can you picture it? The evening also included a Bridesmaids moment when Wilson Phillips performed “Hold On” before including the group’s take on some of their famous parents’ (The Beach Boys, Mamas and the Papas) hits. Mom Michelle Phillips was in the audience.

The awards are just about the same length as the Oscars, but nobody thanks their agent or mentions their character’s “journey.” Do you want to get choked up watching a delightfully edited version of real thing? Check out the awards (presented by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc) when it airs on the Hallmark Channel October 30th at 8 p.m. ET/PT, 7 pm Central Time.

Photographs by Invision