Millions of viewers will tune in to NBC on Thanksgiving Day not just to watch 2,000 beautiful dogs prance around at the National Dog Show presented by Purina, but also to enjoy the expert hosting of John O'Hurley. The talented actor has been the announcer for the celebrated canine competition since it launched in 2002 and believes it was one of the greatest decisions of his career. We had the chance to chat with O'Hurley about his experiences. Find out what he had to say about the prized pooch presentation — and don't miss his heartwarming dog poetry!
My involvement started 11 years ago with a phone call from NBC that started off with "Woof woof." As odd as the opportunity seemed at the time, I sensed it would be a success. Today, I still believe it is one of the best programming decisions that I can remember. I'm proud to be attached to such a quality show.
I have certain dogs that are favorites of mine that are show favorites, but not necessarily dogs that I would own or would be correct for my lifestyle. There are a couple of breeds that I can't help but turn my head when they come into a ring. It's like looking at a beautiful woman. I've always loved the Irish Setters. I think the auburn hair, as it flies into the ring — and the perfect gait on that dog — is one of the most stunning things you can see at a dog show.
Also, parallel that with the Afghans. I love them. I think they are just as beautiful in the ring. Then, there's the cute factor. I love the [Pekingese] — the thing that's closest to the ground and basically mopping up the floor. It's just a joy to watch them. They're the hardest little workers, because they have to cover the most ground.
We had one year where a Great Dane passed the NBC booth, stopped, turned around to look at us, then squatted down and apparently left us a personal commentary on our performance. It did stop the show. Someone with equipment used for an elephant had to come out and clean things up.
This is not only a source of great family entertainment, but it's television done well. It's two hours of something that everybody can watch, from five-years-old to 95-years-old. We're providing something on TV that is so value driven, and it supports so many of the right things that we should be doing on Thanksgiving.
On top of that, it's become such an educational format. It has shed light on the way that dogs are just a wonderful service to us as medical therapy dogs, psychological therapy pets [and more]. Dogs do so many extraordinary things that people are not aware of, and part of the show has been a format to celebrate the rich history of breeding, [as well as to show] what dogs do for us and their presence in our lives.
I am a Red Sox fan and have met people who can't speak about anything that is not about that team. I am an actor and have met other actors who can't discuss anything but their careers. Obsessiveness has no boundaries in the human experience. Obsessive dog owners are more of a cliche in the world of dog shows than the rule. For many exhibitors, it is a family affair and a genuine community of people who love their dogs.
Next: Q & A: Cesar Millan
John O'Hurley shared a poem with us that he recently wrote about a conversation he had with his son about the idea of a perfect dog. You can enjoy it, too — see below!
THE PERFECT DOG
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.
"He’d have ears that were floppy … or cropped and alert
And eyes that were sleepy … or perky and pert,
He’d leap like a bunny or sit in your lap
And run fast as horses … or opt for a nap.
"A dog that is perfect would be covered in spots
Or maybe one-color … and then have spots-not.
"He’d be small as a teacup … or big as a house,
With a nose that seemed flattened … or long like a mouse,
"He’d swim and he’d hunt with a coat flying free
Or be dainty and delicate … and ‘He’d’ be a ‘She’"
As I struggled to answer, and not with a clue,
My son, with a smile, said, out of the blue,
With the wisdom of children, what he already knew …
The dog that is perfect … is the one next to you.