The Hallmark Channel to the rescue(s)

Howard the Dog, the 2019 overall Best in Rescue winner. CONTRIBUTED

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Howard the Dog, the 2019 overall Best in Rescue winner. CONTRIBUTED

I’m not embarrassed to admit to watching the Hallmark Channel. Most of my family and friends watch it, too, with one glaring exception — my husband, Ed.

That all changed a few Sundays ago. Ed’s weekly tennis match had been canceled and he asked what I was going to do that evening.

“I’m watching the American Rescue Dog Show,” I said.

“The what?” Ed responded. He loves our rescued Lab, Teddy, so I know the title caught his interest.

“It’s sort of like the Westminster Dog Show, except dogs are judged on different merits and all the participants have been rescued,” I explained.

“Really, like what?”

“Like best couch potato and best snorer.”

“You’re kidding me?” Ed laughed.

“Nope, I’m particularly interested in the best belly rubs.”

Ed looked at Teddy. “There you go, Teddy. You’d win that category hands down. Well, OK, Teddy and I are in. What time and what channel?”

“It comes on at 8 and the channel is 113.”

“Isn’t that the Hallmark Channel?” Ed asked as he eyed me suspiciously.

“Yep.”

“Hmm,” was all Ed said.

I wasn’t sure if that was an “OK, I’ll watch” or “forget it.” But as the time rolled around Ed and Teddy were sitting in “their” chair ready to watch.

According to Jennifer Schulz, executive producer of this year’s show, “The goal is to shine a light on these incredible pets and inspire viewers to adopt their next dog from their local shelter or rescue organization.”

Ed and I loved the categories. The first night included best belly rubs, smiling, short ’n sweet, senior and snoring. The second night included best couch potato, underbite, talking, special needs, wiggle butt and finishing with best in rescue.

Jennifer said, “The categories were created with personality traits, characteristics and behaviors that were relatable to most dogs … categories people could say ‘my dog does that!’ ”

Ed and I talked about Teddy and our past dogs, Lucy and Mocha, and which categories they fit. When they didn’t fit, we started naming family and friends’ dogs. By the second night, we were coming up with our own categories. The one we like best is “Best Black Dog,” as Teddy is black and black dogs and cats are the least likely to be adopted.

Just as at Westminister, the dogs ran out into the arena when their category was called. The canine exuberance was contagious. When a hefty English bulldog in the snoring category was finished with his time with the judge the audience chanted his name, “Beef.” You couldn’t help but smile, laugh or both.

The judges called each dog contestant up to be reviewed. Dogs participating in best belly rubs got their tummy rubs. Others smiled or showed off their underbites. Owners talked about what made their dogs special.

In the end, the short ’n sweet category winner, Howard the Dog, a basset mix earned “best in rescue,” winning a grant for the San Gabriel Valley Humane Society, the rescue organization where he was adopted. We both agreed he was a great choice. Each time Howard, with ears flapping, would bound into the arena you just had to smile.

Ed survived watching the Hallmark Channel. Next, I’m going to try and convince him to watch the network’s Kitten Bowl. Miniature footballs, goal posts and lots of adorable kittens. What’s not to like?


By the numbers

Since 2014, Hallmark Channel’s pet programs have resulted in 25,000 kitten, cat, puppy and dog adoptions. Oh, and 13 rabbit adoptions. Through Adopt-A-Pet.com they hope to increase the number of pet adoptions.

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