Along with parades and football, one of Thanksgiving Day’s most successful TV franchises is “The National Dog Show,” airing Thursday (Nov. 22) right after the “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” on NBC.
As he does every year, John O’Hurley (standing, above) joins canine expert David Frei (seated) and correspondent Mary Carillo to follow the competition at the annual event, taped earlier in November in Philadelphia.
This year, two new breeds join the field of 175 American Kennel Club-sanctioned breeds.
“There’s the Russell terrier,” says O’Hurley, “which is adorable. it’s kind of a rounder version of the Parson Russell terrier. it’s a cute dog.”
Both the Parson Russell and Russell terriers (at right) are AKC-sanctioned variations of the popular Jack Russell terrier, which can come with a smooth or wiry coat, and long or short legs. Both take their name from British dog fancier the Rev. John “Jack” Russell (1795-1883), aka “The Sporting Parson.”
Less well-known is the Treeing Walker coonhound (below), a U.S.-bred descendant of English and American foxhounds, designed for the job of tracking small game, especially opossums and raccoons (obviously, one goal is that the prey would wind up in a tree).
“It’s like a beagle with long legs,” says O’Hurley, “telescopic legs on a beagle. But they’re beautiful dogs. Oh, gosh, when I saw the breed, I thought, ‘What a pretty dog.'”
Both breeds make great family pets, provided you’re able to provide plenty of outdoor exercise and appropriate discipline. Of course, any well-cared-for, well-behaved dog is a joy to have around, especially in the workplace.
O’Hurley worked with “National Dog Show” sponsor Purina to shoot some segments showing how the pet-food company runs a pet-friendly shop.
“I went to Purina in St. Louis,” he says. “It’s a corporation that allows dogs. You go to boardrooms, board meetings, you go to anybody’s office, there’s a dog there, which is kind of fun. It has this wonderfully calming effect on the people that work there.
“It’s surprising to see how the effect of having the dogs within the working environment actually pays a dividend in terms of making it a nice, comfortable, friendly place.”
O’Hurley also has personal experience with canines in the workplace. From 2000-2002, he was host of a revival of the game show “To Tell the Truth.”
“I had a big release signed for everybody,” he says, “and everybody could bring their dogs. Obviously there are legal issues, but in most cases, they sign basically liability agreements, assuming liability for your animal. You’re stating that the dog is not aggressive.
“The entire two days I was at Purina, not one disagreement among the dogs, nothing. The dogs are very happy. They’re on a 55-acre campus with a lake, so the dogs go out and play. It’s beautiful.”
Of course, all a dog really wants is to be with its human, and the feeling is mutual. That’s expressed in this video O’Hurley shot with his son, Will, illustrating a poem O’Hurley wrote called “The Perfect Dog” (with, he says, “apologies to Dr. Seuss”):