‘Patrick’ movie about adorable pug dog set for one-day-only North American release in addition to international release

January 16, 2019

The following is a press release from Screen Media Films:

“Patrick,” centered around an adorable pug, to over 100 cinemas in North America  for a one day only event on Tuesday, February 19, 2019.  Sarah (Beattie Edmondson) is unlucky in love and a bit of a mess. The last thing she needs is a mischievous dog. When she inherits Patrick the pug, not only does he turn her life upside down, but he also changes it forever. Written and directed by Mandi Fletcher (“Absolutely Fabulous”), “Patrick, ” a must-see for dog lovers, reunites newcomer Beattie Edmondson (“Drunk History,” “Bridget Jones’s Baby”) and  real-life mother Jennifer Saunders (“Absolutely Fabulous,” “Shek 2,” “Coraline”), and on screen, alongside Ed Skrein (“Deadpool,” “Maleficent 2”) and Tom Bennett (“Love & Friendship”) Tickets for the special one-day event are available on January 18, 2019, at: www.pugactually.com

Prior to the wide North American release, “Patrick” will be released theatrically in 10 markets on February 15, 2019. Follow “Patrick” on Instagram @pugactually.

Gymboree is closing all of its stores after bankruptcy problems

January 14, 2019

by Patricia Garrett

Gymboree

Gymboree, a prominent retailer for children’s clothing and toys, is closing all of its remaining stores (about 900) after the company failed to rebound from a bankruptcy. According to Market Watch, Gymboree is expected to file for a second bankruptcy, which will shutter its remaining stores.

In 2017, Gymboree closed about 350 of its stores in the U.S. as part of its first bankruptcy reorganization. The San Francisco-based Gymboree also operated the retail stores Gymboree Outlet, Crazy 8 and Janie and Jack. According to the Wall Street Journal, the fate of Janie and Jack is uncertain since Gymboree is still seeking a buyer for the brand. If no buyer is found, Janie and Jack stores will also be closed.

Gymboree, which was founded in 1976, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June 2017. The company reported $1.25 billion in sales for 2016. In July 2016, The Gymboree Corporation sold the Gymboree Play & Music business to Zeavion Holding.

Ashley Judd, Bryce Dallas Howard embody family love for pets in ‘A Dog’s Way Home’

January 11, 2019

Jonah Hauer-King and Ashley Judd in “A Dog’s Way Home” (Photo by James Dittiger)

The dramatic film “A Dog’s Way Home” chronicles the heartwarming adventure of Bella (voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard), a dog who embarks on an epic 400-mile journey home after she is separated from her beloved human. The film, which is directed by Charles Martin Smith, has a cast that includes Jonah Hauer-King as Lucas and Ashley Judd as Lucas’ single mother Terri, who are Bella’s owners; Alexandra Shipp as Olivia, Lucas’ co-worker who is with Lucas when they find her as a stray puppy; and Edward James Olmos as Axel, a homeless veteran who takes ownership of Bella during her journey. The adult Bella is played by Shelby, a mixed breed that in real life was a stray dog rescued from an animal shelter. “A Dog’s Way Home” opens in North American cinemas on January 11, 2019. Here are photos and videos from the movie:

 

2018 National Dog Show: photos and videos

November 23, 2018

Whippet “Whiskey,” Best In Show Winner, at the 2018 National Dog Show Presented by Purina (Photo by Bill McCay/NBC)

The following is a press release from NBC:

A top-ranked, energetic Whippet named “Whiskey” captivated judges and fans to win the Best In Show title for 2018 at NBC’s “National Dog Show Presented by Purina,” which NBC televised on November 22.

A three-year-old male from the Hound group, the athletic canine topped a talented pool of 1,992 dogs entered in the tradition-rich, all-breed show hosted by the Kennel Club of Philadelphia.

Whiskey’s registered name is GCHP Pinnacle Tennessee Whiskey, and he is owned by Justin Smithey (pictured) and Dr. Ken Latimer of Toano, Virginia.

The Best in Group winners also featured King, a Wire Fox Terrier (Terrier group); Bogie, a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel (Toy group); Ducky, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever (Sporting group); Billy, a Lhasa Apso (Non-Sporting group); Irupe, a Doberman Pinscher (Working group) and Bella, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi (Herding group).

An encore presentation of “The National Dog Show Presented by Purina,” hosted by John O’Hurley and David Frei, will air Saturday, Nov. 24 (8-10 p.m. ET) on NBC.

2018 National Dog Show: details announced

November 1, 2018

John O'Hurley and David Frei
Pictured from left to right: Nederlandse Kooikerhondje, Bergamasco Shepherd, John O’Hurley, Papillon, David Frei, Great Dane, Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen (Photo by Simon Bruty)

The following is a press release from NBC:

NBC will celebrate man’s best friend in the 17th anniversary edition of the family favorite holiday special “The National Dog Show Presented by Purina®” airing on Thanksgiving Day (noon-2 p.m. in all time zones), Nov. 22, following the telecast of NBC’s “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.”

“The National Dog Show Presented by Purina®” will be hosted by award-winning TV personality, author and Broadway star John O’Hurley (“Seinfeld,” “Dancing with the Stars”). Returning to offer expert analysis is American Kennel Club-licensed judge David Frei, who has officiated at dog shows worldwide and, alongside O’Hurley, has co-hosted the competition since its inception in 2002. NBC Sports correspondent Mary Carillo will report from inside the show ring, and former U.S. Olympic figure skaters Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir will offer behind-the-scenes access as digital contributors.

“For 17 years, the ‘National Dog Show Presented by Purina®’ has been at the forefront of the purebred dog world,” said O’Hurley. “I’m proud to be a part of a legacy that not only celebrates such a rich history of dog breeds, but also being part of a tradition that entertains everyone from 4 to 94.”

Two new American Kennel Club-sanctioned breeds will be included in this year’s competition – the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje (sporting group) and the Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen (hound group) – bringing the total recognized breeds to 192. Since 2003, 45 new breeds have been introduced to the event.

Last year, Newton, a 3-year-old Brussels Griffon (toy group), took home the Best in Show title among the seven group winners. Newton impressed the judges with his superior condition and form, beautiful coat and loving personality.

A beloved holiday tradition for families across the nation, the broadcast reached more than 22 million viewers last year. Over the last two years the telecast has delivered its two biggest audiences in its 17-year run on NBC. The National Dog Show is part of a five-hour block of family programing on NBC, offering the country’s 65 million pet-owning households a full afternoon of fun entertainment while raising money for canine-related causes. In its unique format, the Kennel Club of Philadelphia offers an open environment for the esteemed event and remains one of the only “benched” dog shows, displaying all 2,000 competing purebred canines to the visiting public.

Continuing the family fun, NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) will present a Thanksgiving Day marathon (beginning 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT) of “The National Dog Show Presented by Purina®,” featuring all five Best in Show winners from 2013-17.

In celebration of Thanksgiving and the National Dog Show, Purina is inviting pet owners across the nation to share why they are thankful for their pet. From Nov. 9-25, for every unique post shared on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram that includes @Purina and #DogThanking, Purina will donate $1 (up to $25,000) to Tony LaRussa’s Animal Rescue Foundation Pets and Vets program. This amazing program helps pair shelter pets with veterans coping with PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, anxiety and other service-related challenges as they transition back to civilian life following their service.

For more information on the “National Dog Show Presented by Purina®,” visit: http://www.nationaldogshow.com

Breed descriptions and more information can be found at http://nds.nationaldogshow.com/event-info-groups.php

Please follow us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/NBC and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/NBC

Netflix reveals details of docuseries ‘Dogs’

October 29, 2018

A scene from "Dogs" (Photo courtesy of Netflix)
A scene from “Dogs” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

The following is a press release from Netflix:

“Dogs” launches globally on Netflix on November 16, 2018. An elegant, engaging and cinematic verite documentary series celebrating the deep emotional bonds between people and their beloved four-legged best friends. The series tracks six incredible stories from across the globe including Syria, Japan, Costa Rica, Italy and the U.S.—each proving that the unconditional love one feels for their dog is a beautiful universal truth. With episodes helmed by critically acclaimed directors including: Academy Award-nominated Amy Berg (“Deliver Us From Evil”), Academy Award-winning Roger Ross Williams (“Life Animated,” “Music by Prudence”), Academy Award-nominated Heidi Ewing (“Jesus Camp,” “One of Us”), Emmy Award-winning Richard Hankin (“The Jinx”) and Academy Award-winners T.J. Martin and Daniel Lindsay (“Undefeated”), “Dogs” takes us on an inspirational journey exploring the remarkable, perhaps even magical qualities that have given these animals such a special place in all of our hearts.

“Dogs” is a Netflix Original Documentary Series, developed as a documentary series by Glen Zipper with Academy Award-nominated Amy Berg of Disarming Films and Zipper, of Zipper Bros Films, serving as executive producers.

Episode 1: The Kid with a Dog

Directed by: Heidi Ewing (“Jesus Camp,” “One of Us”)

A scene from “Dogs” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

Corrine, an 11 year old girl who suffers from traumatic seizures, is forever changed when she meets Rory, a certified dog who has been trained to detect oncoming seizures. This episode highlights the depths of a closely formed friendship between a child and their dog, the unbreakable trust they have in each other and the incredible power of a dog’s ability to assist humans in health and wellness.

Episode 2: Bravo, Zeus

Directed by: Amy Berg (“Deliver Us From Evil”)

A scene from “Dogs” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

Two years after fleeing his home in war-torn Syria, Ayham has made a new home for himself in Germany.  He cannot feel at peace however, until he is reunited with his best friend, a Siberian Husky named Zeus. Ayham and his friends risk everything they have to bring Zeus across the border from Syria to Lebanon in the hopes of ultimately being reunited in Germany.

Episode 3:  Ice on the Water

Directed by: Richard Hankin (“The Jinx”)

A scene from “Dogs” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

In a picturesque town off of Lake Como, Italian fisherman Alessandro relies on his partner, Ice, a 10-year-old Labrador to help with the family business as they get ready for the busy tourist season.  The fishermen in town struggle, but Ice continues to stand guard and do all he can, even in the coldest winter months.

Episode 4: Scissors Down

Directed by: Roger Ross Williams (“Life Animated”)

A scene from “Dogs” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

In Japan, people’s relationships with their dogs is on a whole new level.  Dogs are dressed in clothing to match their owners and the craft of dog grooming is a true artform.  This episode follows two of the world’s most renowned dog groomers as they fly to California to compete in the ultimate dog grooming competition.

Episode 5: Territorio de Zeguates

Directed by: T.J. Martin and Daniel Lindsay (“Undefeated,” “LA 92”)

A scene from “Dogs” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

Territorio de Zeguates is a sanctuary deep in the Costa Rican rainforest that houses thousands of dogs and saves them from living on the streets. But with that many dogs, how long can the organization sustain without running out of resources?  The people who run the shelter dedicate their lives to making these dogs lives better, even at their own expense.

Episode 6: Second Chances

Directed by: Amy Berg (“Deliver Us From Evil”)

A scene from “Dogs” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

New York City has a love affair with adopting dogs. There are more dogs in New York than there are people in the city of Cleveland—and thousands of them are rescues. This episode follows every step of this adoption ecosystem through the charity Hearts and Bones as they go on a rescue mission to bring dogs from a kill shelter in the south to the Big Apple for a better life.

Follow DOGS:

Instagram: @netflixdogs

Universal Studios Hollywood announces its first Halloween party, opens ‘Stranger Things’ maze during the day

October 23, 2018

Halloween children party

The following is a press release from Universal Studios Hollywood:

Universal Studios Hollywood hosts its first-ever kid-friendly Halloween celebration, inviting all children 12 years of age and under to don creative costumes to Trick-or-Treat at the theme park along with some of their favorite characters on Saturday, October 27 and Sunday, October 28 from 10 am to 4 pm.

Halloween-themed characters located throughout the theme park include Hello Kitty as The Bride of Frankenstein, Illumination’s Minion Monsters, SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick Star, Scooby Doo and the gang, Curious George, Woody Woodpecker, Dracula, Frankenstein and The Mummy.

Other entertaining activities include a Halloween Party in the Plaza with a live DJ, music, games and costume showcase. Also, Halloween treat decorating will be available for purchase. All children 12 years of age and under will receive a free carnival game voucher redeemable at Super Silly Fun Land, located adjacent to the “Despicable Minion Mayhem” ride or Krustyland’s Carnival Games, located adjacent to “The Simpsons™ Ride.”

The Halloween celebration is included in the price of theme park admission to Universal Studios Hollywood. A specially-designed activity map will be provided complementary to help navigate the many memorably-ghoulish moments.

The at-a-glance schedule of events features:

10am – 4pm: Trick-or-Treat and Character meet and greets at select theme park locations

11am – 2pm: Halloween Party in the Plaza

1 – 2pm: Costume Showcase at Universal Plaza

For the first time, Universal Studios Hollywood offers guests a “lights on” walk-through experience of the all-new “Stranger Things” maze during the day, providing an authentic, behind-the-scenes look at how the Upside Down comes to life at “Halloween Horror Nights” from Monday, October 29 through Friday, November 2. The self-guided tour of the movie-quality sets featured in the “Stranger Things” maze is included in the price of daytime admission to the theme park.

“Halloween Horror Nights” continues select nights now through Sunday, November 4, adding one more terrifying night due to popular demand.

Working collaboratively with Netflix, along with the creators and executive producer of the blockbuster series—Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer and Shawn Levy, the maze is an authentic representation of “Stranger Things,” designed to transport guests into artfully recreated scenes and storylines in season one. From the menacing Hawkins National Laboratory, under the U.S. Department of Energy, to the Byers home adorned with an erratic display of flashing Christmas lights and the eerie Upside Down woods oozing a shower of floating orb-like spores, guests will discover how the chilling new maze offers surprising twists and unexpected turns around every corner – in the light of day.

Each night at “Halloween Horror Nights,” the parallel universe, referred to as the Upside Down, that terrorized the small town of Hawkins, Indiana in “Stranger Things,” brings the chittering, predatory Demogorgon to stalk unwitting guests as they encounter iconic scenes, characters and environments from the mesmerizing season one of the critically-acclaimed series.

Universal Studios’ “Halloween Horror Nights” is the ultimate Halloween event. For more than 25 years, guests from around the world have visited “Halloween Horror Nights” to become victims inside their own horror film. Multiple movie-quality mazes based on iconic horror television shows, films and original stories come to life season after season, while the streets of each park’s event are transformed into highly-themed scare zones with menacing scare-actors lunging from every darkened corner.

For the first time ever, Universal Studios HollywoodUniversal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Singapore are partnering with Netflix to bring “Stranger Things” to life at this year’s “Halloween Horror Nights” events. For more information and to purchase tickets for “Halloween Horror Nights,” visit www.HalloweenHorrorNights.com.

More information is available at www.UniversalStudiosHollywood.com. Like Universal Studios Hollywood on Facebook and follow @UniStudios on Instagram and Twitter.

Universal Studios Hollywood is The Entertainment Capital of L.A. and includes a full-day, movie-based theme park and Studio Tour. As a leading global entertainment destination, Universal Studios Hollywood delivers highly themed immersive lands that translate to real-life interpretations of iconic movie and television shows. Recent additions include “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™” which features a bustling Hogsmeade village and such critically-acclaimed rides as “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” and “Flight of the Hippogriff™”. Other immersive lands include “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem” and “Super Silly Fun Land” as well as “Springfield,” hometown of America’s favorite TV family, located adjacent to the award-winning “The Simpsons Ride™” and the “The Walking Dead” daytime attraction and the all-new DreamWorks Theatre featuring “Kung Fu Panda: The Emperor’s Quest.” The world-renowned Studio Tour is Universal Studios Hollywood’s signature attraction, inviting guests behind-the-scenes of the world’s biggest and busiest movie and television production studio where they can also experience such authentic thrill rides as “Fast & Furious—Supercharged.” The adjacent Universal CityWalk entertainment, shopping and dining complex also includes the all-new multi-million dollar, redesigned Universal CityWalk Cinema, featuring deluxe recliner seating in screening room quality theatres, and the “5 Towers” state-of-the-art outdoor concert stage.

Nickelodeon signs deal with Kevin Hart to develop and produce children’s shows

October 11, 2018

by Carla Hay

Kevin Hart at Nickelodeon's 2017 Kids' Choice Awards
Kevin Hart at Nickelodeon’s 2017 Kids’ Choice Awards at USC’s Galen Center in Los Angeles on March 11, 2017. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/KCA2017/Getty Images for Nickelodeon)

Nickelodeon has entered into an exclusive first-look deal with comedian, actor and television personality Kevin Hart (“Night School,” “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” “The Secret Life of Pets”) and his production entity, HartBeat Productions. Hugely popular among Nickelodeon’s audience, Hart will develop and produce live-action, scripted kids’ content for the network through HartBeat.

Kevin Hart noted, “For me, Nick has always represented everything fun about being a kid, and it’s still at the forefront today of kids’ and family entertainment. I’ve been slimed at Kids’ Choice, won a lot of Orange Blimps and my kids are my very own built-in focus group, so I’m ready to dive in and make some next-level shows with Brian and everyone at Nickelodeon.”

Added Brian Robbins, Nickelodeon’s newly named President: “I’m excited to inherit this terrific content deal with Kevin Hart just as I step into my new role at Nickelodeon. Kevin is an incredible talent whose appeal cuts across practically every age group and every member of the family. He knows how to create unforgettable characters, and I can’t wait for him and HartBeat Productions to focus their creativity on making great new content with us.”

Hart is no stranger to Nickelodeon and its audience, having garnered numerous Kids’ Choice Awards nominations and Orange Blimp wins. In 2014, Hart won for “Favorite Funny Star.” In 2017, he took home two awards in the categories of “Favorite Villain” and “Most Wanted Pet” (Snowball, The Secret Life of Pets), and one for “BFFs” (Central Intelligence).

About HartBeat Productions

Founded by Kevin Hart, HartBeat Productions is multi-platform production company creating unique content for worldwide audiences. With a focus in Feature Films, Television and Digital Content, HartBeat aims to provide content from culturally diverse storytellers that resonate on a global scale. HartBeat currently has a First-Look deal with Universal Studios to produce Feature Films. Their first production together, Night School, had the highest grossing opening weekend for a comedy in 2018. Other projects include “The Next Level” and “Hart of the City” on Comedy Central, and “Cold as Balls” and “What the Fit” on LOL Network. HartBeat currently has numerous Film, and Television projects in various stages of development.

About Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon, now in its 39th year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The company includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, digital, recreation, books and feature films. Nickelodeon’s U.S. television network is seen in more than 90 million households and has been the number-one-rated kids’ basic cable network for 22 consecutive years. Nickelodeon and all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIAB).

Netflix acquires film and TV rights for ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ series

October 3, 2018

by Carla Hay

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
Georgie Henley, Anna Popplewell, William Moseley and Skander Keynes in “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” (Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Films)

Netflix has acquired the rights to do movies and TV shows adapted from C.S. Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia” children’s book series. The first three books in the series have already been made into feature films: 2005’s “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” (which made $745 million in worldwide box-office sales, according to Box Office Mojo); 2008’s “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” ($420 million worldwide); and 2010’s “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”  ($416 million worldwide). The first two “Narnia” films were directed by Andrew Adamson and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, while the third “Narnia” film was directed Michael Apted and by distributed by 20th Century Fox’s Fox 2000.

In 2017, it was announced that Sony would be making “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair” into a feature film with director Joe Johnston, and the movie was aiming for a 2019 release, but those plans fell apart. At the time he had signed on to direct the movie, Johnston said in interviews that he didn’t want “The Silver Chair” to look anything like the previous “Narnia” films, and he didn’t want “The Silver Chair” to even reference the previous “Narnia” films.

Before the movies, BBC had a “Chronicles of Narnia” TV series based on four “Narnia” books: “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” in 1988, “Prince Caspian” and “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” in 1989 and  “The Silver Chair” in 1990.

According to a Netflix press release: “Under the terms of a multi-year deal between Netflix and The C.S. Lewis Company, Netflix will develop classic stories from across the Narnia universe into series and films for its members worldwide. All series and films produced through the deal will be Netflix productions, with Mark Gordon of Entertainment One (eOne) alongside Douglas Gresham and Vincent Sieber serving as executive producers for series and as producers for features.”

It hasn’t been announced at this point if Netflix will continue with plans for a “Silver Chair” movie. There also hasn’t been an announcement yet about which directors, actors or screenwriters will be involved in the Netflix “Narnia” projects. And there’s no word yet on a timeline for when these Netflix “Narnia” projects will be filmed and ready for release.

One thing is clear: It’s very unlikely that the stars of the original “Narnia” films will reprise their roles in the Netflix “Narnia” movies and TV series. If Netflix does remakes of the first three “Narnia” films, the four Pevensie siblings (the central characters in the “Narnia” series) will have to be recast, since the original actors who played the underage characters are now too old for the roles that they played in the first three movies. William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Skandar Keynes and Georgie Henley played the Pevensie siblings in the first three “Narnia” movies. If “Netflix” does “The Silver Chair,” the central role of Eustace Scrubb (played by Will Poulter in “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”) will also have to be recast, since that is an underage character.

Netflix’s “Narnia” deal comes nearly a year after it was announced in November 2017 that Amazon had signed a multi-year deal to make J.R.R. Tolkein’s “The Lord of the Rings” books into a TV series.

 

2018 American Humane Hero Dog Awards: Golden retriever Chi Chi wins top prize; Hallmark Channel to televise awards

September 30, 2018

American Humane Hero Dog Awards
Therapy Dog of the Year: Chi Chi (Photo courtesy of American Humane Hero Dog Awards)

The following is a press release from American Humane:

Following more than a million votes by the American public and the opinions of an expert panel of celebrity animal lovers and dog experts, “Chi Chi,” a four-year-old Golden Retriever from Phoenix, Arizona has been named this year’s most heroic dog, besting 265 other brave canines and capturing the top title of “American Hero Dog” at the 2018 American Humane Hero Dog Awards®. The eighth annual Hero Dogs Awards is sponsored by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc. and Zoetis Petcare (a U.S. business unit of Zoetis) and will be broadcast nationally on Hallmark Channel October 24 at 8:00 pm ET/PT.

Chi Chi is a quadruple amputee who is inspiring people all over the world. She was left for dead in South Korea where she was found in a garbage bag with her legs bound, worn to the bone, and already necrotized. The only way to save her life was to amputate portions of all four of her legs. When she first arrived at our home, she was afraid of people, but with time and lots of love and grace, she realized that she is safe and no one will ever hurt her again. She forgave and decided to trust people again. She quickly adapted to her first set of custom prosthetics and now loves spending her days as a certified therapy dog sharing her joy and cheerful demeanor with people of all ages. Recently, she had surgery to remove cancer tumors, so she is a cancer survivor. When people meet Chi Chi, they are inspired by her courage, perseverance, ability to overcome adversity and her never-give-up attitude. She exemplifies resilience and forgiveness, and openly shares her love and compassion in abundance. Her sweet-tempered and gentle spirit opens people’s hearts and her perceptive spirit senses where her love is needed. When people hear Chi Chi’s story and experience her attitude of joy, they are often inspired to face their challenges with renewed courage and a fresh perspective. Chi Chi brings joy everywhere she goes and her optimism and smile spreads quickly to others. She positively impacts thousands of people all over the world via her online therapy work through her social media account.

For her extraordinary bravery and good works, Chi Chi won the American Humane Hero Dog Awards’ “Therapy Dog” category. This year, the Therapy Dog category is sponsored by Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food, the official pet food sponsor of the 2018 American Humane Hero Dog Awards. We thank them for helping draw attention to Chi Chi’s story and spotlighting the remarkable ways dogs are capable of forgiveness and moving on to do good things for others even when they themselves were in need of help.

A Galaxy of Stars Honors Hero Dogs

The sold-out, star-studded awards honoring America’s most courageous canines were hosted at the Beverly Hilton Hotel last night by television and film star James Denton and model and animal advocate Beth Stern, accompanied by a galaxy of celebrity stars and presenters including TV star Erik Estrada; actress Danielle Fishel; TV and film personality Carrie Ann Inaba; actress Bailee Madison; TV actress Kellie Martin; TV host Debbie Matenopoulos; TV host Cameron Mathison; TV host and animal trainer Brandon McMillan; actress Barbara Niven, actress Denise Richards; actress Rebecca Romijn; TV host and actress Alison Sweeney; “Modern Family” actress Ariel Winter; and TV actress Larissa Wohl. “Lois and Clark” star Dean Cain brought his super powers in the form of heroic voiceovers of the individual finalists’ tribute videos.

Wildlife conservationist and popular TV personality Jack Hanna provided a delightful pre-taped video congratulating all the dogs and urging everyone to support the animals of the earth. Before the show, the audience was treated to the artistry of The Alex Donner Band, the Nunziata brothers, and a special appearance by Hallmark Channel’s Goodwill Ambassador Happy the Dog.

The Hero Dog Awards were created to celebrate the powerful relationship between dogs and people and recognize extraordinary acts of heroism performed by ordinary dogs. The event will be broadcast nationwide by Hallmark Channel on October 24 at 8 pm ET/PT, 7 pm Central. The program will air as part of Hallmark Channel’s Pet Project, the network’s cross-platform advocacy campaign designed to celebrate the joy and enrichment animals bring to our lives. During American Humane’s annual “Adopt-a-Dog Month” this October, the organization is teaming up with Hallmark Channel’s “Adoption Ever After” campaign to help get more of the millions of beautiful animals left in shelters each year into forever homes. All throughout the month, animal lovers can go to www.AmericanHumane.org to find adoptable dogs in your area, tips on preparing their home for a new four-legged companion, and other vital information, social media campaigns and blogs to help build a better world for our best friends.

“The American Humane Hero Dog Awards were created to honor some of the most extraordinary heroes the world has ever known, the very best of our best friends,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization. “These heroic canines have gone above and beyond the call of duty, saving lives on the battlefield, comforting the ill, aged and afflicted, bringing hope to those who have lost it, and reminding us of the powerful, age-old bond between animals and people. All seven category winners tonight exemplify what it means to be a hero, and we hope that their stories – and Chi Chi’s – will inspire people to value our animal friends and to recognize and honor how much they do for us every day.”

“It is an honor to support an effort to recognize the best of our ‘best friends,'” said philanthropist Lois Pope, who has been the awards’ presenting sponsor for seven years. “From those who defend our country to those who help us heal, guide us, protect us, and help find the lost, every single contender exemplifies the courage and heroism we seek to spotlight in the Hero Dog Awards campaign. Through this national forum we have helped educate America about the lifesaving, life-affirming work of our nation’s canine heroes.”

The winner is chosen through a combination of public votes and voting by a panel of animal advocates and celebrity judges including Michelle Beadle, Prince Lorenzo BorgheseKristin ChenowethJamie Chung, Philippe and Ashlan Gorse Cousteau, Erik EstradaDanielle FishelCarolyn HennesyCarson KressleyMiranda LambertBailee MadisonAdrienne Maloof, Agent Jerry MeansLaura Nativo, Carlos and Alexa PenaVega, Mark Steines, and Lisa Vanderpump.

All Finalists Are Winners

Chi Chi was the one chosen as 2018 American Hero Dog, but all seven finalists were winners in their categories, and we salute them for their courage, service and compassion. Here are their official nominations, as told by their handlers and owners:

Law Enforcement/Arson Dog of the Year (category sponsored by K-9 Courage from Zoetis Petcare)

Law Enforcement_Arson Dog of the Year: K-9 Flash (Photo courtesy of American Humane Hero Dog Awards)

K-9 Flash (Detroit, MI) – K-9 Flash was found in an animal shelter when she was only 9 months old. She was picked up on the streets of Everett, Washington, with no home, no name, and no family. We were starting a Narcotics K-9 course at the Washington State Patrol Academy in Sept of 2005, when we were evaluating dogs in shelters who possess a good hunt, air scent, retrieve, and prey drive. Flash excelled in all of those areas, so we took a chance on her and included her in the class just one day before she was to be euthanized. Once she had her chance, Flash excelled in Narcotics detection and graduated as the only dog to score 100 percent on her certification. She was assigned as the first Narcotics K-9 on Patrol at the Yakima Police Department while assisting two DEA Narcotics Task Force Teams, Regional SWAT Team, and the Patrol Division. K-9 Flash had over 3,000 deployments in her career with over 2,200 narcotics-related finds and seizures. When Flash retired in 2013, she was just getting started. Because of her fortitude and her will to be successful, she inspired her handler to start a national nonprofit to take care of retired K-9 heroes like her with medical assistance, food, and end-of-duty services. Most people don’t know that when K-9 heroes like Flash retire they lose all funding from the agencies they served. Therefore in 2016, K-9 Flash was the sole inspiration for the start of Project K-9 Hero. She now has her own children’s book and travels the nation reading it at schools and inspiring children.

Emerging Hero Dog of the Year

Emerging Hero Dog of the Year: Willow (Photo courtesy of American Humane Hero Dog Awards)

Willow (Las Vegas, NV) – Willow is a survivor of the South Korean dog meat trade. His owners turned him in to the slaughterhouse because he was old. Neglected, with cut ears, matted hair, a mouth of bad teeth and an infected tongue, he was allowed to be rescued because he “didn’t offer much meat.” He was one of the lucky ones. Arriving in September of 2016, Willow is spreading awareness on social media and making public appearances to educate people on animal welfare topics (including the dog and cat meat trade) through non-traumatic and non-graphic ways, and presenting resources to help more of his four-legged friends. Willow travels internationally in foamboard form and poses with trade survivors. His campaign, “I Am Willow, I Am Not Food” raises flight funds for dogs. He is the mascot for a newly created Animal Rights Club at a local school, helping students advocate for change in the classroom and aiding their school in becoming the first vegan option cafeteria in the State. We are developing educational tools to use in an animal welfare speaking series for schools and conferences. He is also getting therapy dog certification to spread awareness to disabled children through animal-related books/reading programs. Willow is a voice and inspirational leader for millions of animals, not just those subjected to the dog and cat meat trade. People listen, learn and respond to Willow. He is a vehicle for raising awareness. Willow is an EMERGING HERO who will grow that status into something that makes a lifelong paw print in the animal welfare world.

Guide/Hearing Dog of the Year

Guide/Hearing Dog of the Year: Frances (Photo courtesy of American Humane Hero Dog Awards)

Frances (Staten Island, NY) – At the age of 32, I lost my eyesight from a rare complication after battling breast cancer. Over the next six months, I would have to relearn everything from crossing the street to sorting laundry. Then, the universe threw me the ultimate curveball – I found out I was pregnant! When people asked me how I planned on traveling with my baby, I responded, “I’m going to get a guide dog.” In September of 2016, Guiding Eyes for the Blind matched with me with Frances, a female yellow Labrador. Since then, “Franny” and I have become partners in both parenting and advocacy work for visually impaired parents. Now the mother of two daughters, I depend on Frances to help guide me to pre-school, doctor’s appointments and extracurricular activities. When “Franny” is not helping me meet the demands of motherhood, she accompanies me to help educate kids through our Visually Impaired Education Program (VIEP). Aimed at grades K-2, VIEP’s mission is to engage school-aged children through classroom interaction with the blind/visually impaired community; helping diminish stereotypes associated with blindness. Frances attends every presentation, a beautiful reminder about the important work of guide dogs. I believe Frances deserves to be the American Hero Guide Dog because her partnership allows me to be the woman I want to be. She helps me juggle all that comes with being a working mom while educating our community about living with vision loss.

Military Dog of the Year (category sponsored by K-9 Courage from Zoetis Petcare)

Military Dog of the Year: Sergeant. Fieldy (Photo courtesy of American Humane Hero Dog Awards)

Sergeant Fieldy (McAllen, TX) – Sgt. Fieldy is an 11-year-old Black Lab with the heart and energy of a 3-year-old who served in the U.S. Marine Corps and retired in August 2014. I am his handler and I met him in South Carolina as part of a group of specialized units formed to combat the number-one threat in Afghanistan: Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). We were deployed to Afghanistanin February 2011. We both experienced first-hand the effects of IEDs when a vehicle struck a pressure plate during a patrol and injured the occupants. Knowing that we were both targets for insurgent observers, we worked tirelessly to detect explosives. He alerted me and found yet another IED, a 60-pound plastic barrel containing homemade explosives. During our deployment, Sgt. Fieldy found several more IEDs and their components, which helped save countless lives during our tour. After his deployment, he was taken back for refitting and training, and I returned home. I later found out that Sgt. Fieldy deployed two more times to Afghanistan and continued to find more IEDs and save many more lives. After serving four tours, on Aug. 7, 2014, I was finally able to adopt him. Since then he has very much enjoyed his retirement. In Nov. 2014 he participated in the Veterans Day Parade in New York City. And in July 2016, he was honored with the K-9 Medal of Courage award on Capitol Hill, and has been recognized for his bravery and courageous sacrifice on several other occasions. He has made a life-changing impact on my life. He is my hero!

Search and Rescue Dog of the Year

Search and Rescue Dog of the Year: Ruby (Photo courtesy of American Humane Hero Dog Awards)

Ruby (East Greenwich, RI) – In October of 2017, a teenage boy went missing from his home in the town of Gloucester. After 36 hours and failed attempts to find him, the Gloucester Police Department requested the services of the Rhode Island State Police K-9 Division. K-9 Ruby and I answered the call and responded to the scene along with other K-9 teams. As part of normal protocol, I briefly interviewed the boy’s mother. During the conversation, it was revealed that the boy’s mother had volunteered her services working with Ruby six years ago at the RISPCA and fostered her each time she was returned. After hours of searching, K-9 Ruby and I were ultimately successful in finding the missing teenager, but unfortunately, he was found in grave medical condition. The state police and EMS services removed the boy from the scene and transported him to a local hospital where he made a full recovery. If it were not for the effort of the state police and especially K-9 Ruby, that young boy’s life may have been lost. You can think what you may, but I believe that was Ruby’s way of saying thank you to the boy’s mother for taking care of her during her rough beginning. Ruby was given a chance at life and ended up saving a life. With the efforts of two organizations (RISP and RISPCA) and a handful of amazing and dedicated people, great things can happen. Ruby will also be featured in a soon-to-be-released award-winning film, which documents her rescue, her rigorous training to become a certified Search & Rescue K9, and accompanies her on her first official searches with her handler, Daniel O’Neil.

Service Dog of the Year (category sponsored by Modern Dog magazine)

Service Dog of the Year: Roxy (Photo courtesy of American Humane Hero Dog Awards)

Roxy (Canton, NC) – Hello, everyone. My name is Justin. I am a disabled veteran from the Iraq war. I was deployed to Iraq as a U.S. Army infantry soldier. While in Baghdad during my 2006 deployment, I was blown up by an IED. I now suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Once I was out of the military, I received Roxy as a fully trained PTS Service Dog from Off Leash K9 Training in Asheville, North Carolina. Roxy is trained in basic and advanced obedience, with three Canine Good Citizenship Awards. Roxy has been trained to indicate on my anxiety, so she can help alert me before the PTS gets out of control. She helps provide a distraction, so I can concentrate on something else besides the PTS. She helps me on a daily basis with simple life tasks. If it wasn’t for her showing me that it’s okay to be in society, I probably wouldn’t be here today. I take Roxy to our local V.A. hospital to help share Roxy’s ability with other Veterans. We enjoy bringing happiness and joy to the veterans of the V.A. Most people have never seen a pit bull as a service dog, but once they meet Roxy and see what she does, you can tell how much they really enjoy meeting her. We really hope Roxy can be the next top Hero Dog, to help continue to show the world that pit bulls are good dogs, but also amazing service dogs. We appreciate your time in reading our story. Please help Roxy get to the top! Thank you for your support. God bless our Troops and our veterans until they all come home.

Each of the seven finalists received $2,500 to be donated to one of American Humane’s charity partners. Chi Chi won an additional $5,000 for her charity, Pet Partners. In this way, more heroes may be nurtured.

Efforts Featured to Help Repay Our Best Friends and Those Who Protect Our Country

During the awards, two special video packages were presented about efforts by American Humane to help repay the debt we owe mankind’s best friend and those who protect our country. The first featured American Humane’s “Pups4Patriots” program, a national effort supported by Hallmark Channel, that rescues abandoned animals in need of forever homes and trains them to become lifesaving service dogs for veterans coping with Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury. Saving lives at both ends of the leash, the Pups4Patriots program seeks to help stem the tide of pet euthanasia and veteran suicide. Following the presentation, Dr. Ganzert led the audience in an ovation to recognize and honor the 130 veterans and their families in the audience. A second video featured a recent effort to assist more of the animals around the country who desperately require medical care after being abandoned or whose owners cannot afford to have them treated. In August, American Humane rallied an army of volunteers to the help animals at St. Landry Parish Animal Shelter in Louisiana.  Seven veterinarians, including Dr. Mike McFarland of Zoetis Petcare and the renowned Dr. Marty Becker, as well as more than 50 veterinary and veterinary nursing students volunteered their time for this project. Zoetis Petcare provided all the medicines and supplies needed to treat 230 dogs, 45 cats, and six horses. Not only did their efforts help prepare these animals for adoption locally; several were flown to Los Angeles for the Hero Dog Awards, where they were presented for adoption by an enthusiastic audience all too willing to take them home.

Heroes Who Save and Keep Our Hero Pets Healthy All Year Round Honored

Behind every hero pet is a hero vet or vet tech.  Each year at the Hero Dog Awards, American Humane also announced the winners of its Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Nurse Awards. Dr. David Chico from Albany, New York, as named 2018’s American Hero Veterinarian, and Tammy Boland of Oceanport, New Jersey was declared 2018’s American Hero Veterinary Nurse.

“To us, all vets and vet techs are heroes and this is why we want to honor the best of the best in their fields,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane president and CEO. “Indeed, Dr. Chico and Ms. Boland are tremendous animal welfare advocates and we are so proud to learn of their laudable accomplishments aiding the animals in need in their communities and beyond. And our thanks go out to our friends at Zoetis Petcare for sponsoring this special national campaign because we know how committed they are to recognizing the achievements of the veterinary community.”

“Zoetis Petcare is honored to sponsor these awards that recognize the extraordinary veterinarians and veterinary nurses who help keep the pets in our lives happy and healthy, strengthening the powerful human-animal bond between pets and the families who love them,” said J. Michael McFarland, executive director of Zoetis Petcare marketing. “Dr. Chico and Tammy have raised the bar for other veterinary professionals in the field through their inspiring service and compassionate care for animals.”

Hero Dog Awards Host and Animal Advocate Beth Stern Wins Surprise Award

Longtime Hero Dog Awards co-host and animal advocate Beth Stern was surprised with Hallmark’s “Adoption Ever After” for her work in helping thousands of shelter animals find forever homes. The award, which brought an ovation from the 700+ guests at the Hero Dog Awards gala, was presented by Real Housewives of New York’s Carole Radziwill.
                                                                

And Thanks to Sponsors

Finally, American Humane honored the many generous sponsors who support the Hero Dog Awards and made them possible. “We thank the animals, their dedicated owners and handlers, and the generous sponsors who have helped bring about that recognition,” said Dr. Ganzert. “Thank you to Lois Pope and the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation; Hallmark Channel; Zoetis Petcare, the Hero Dog Awards corporate sponsor and sponsor of the Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Nurse Awards; Military Dog sponsor K-9 Courage Program from Zoetis Petcare; Law Enforcement/Arson Dog sponsor K-9 Courage Program from Zoetis Petcare; Emerging Hero Dog sponsor, the maker of NexGard® (afoxolaner) Chewables; Service Dog sponsor Modern Dog Magazine; and Therapy Dog sponsor Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food, the official pet food of the 2018 Hero Dog Awards. Dogs may be our best friends, but these caring organizations are theirs.”

About American Humane
American Humane is the country’s first national humane organization, founded in 1877. For more information, please visit www.americanhumane.org.

About Lois Pope, The Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc., and LIFE (Leaders in Furthering Education)
As one of America’s leading philanthropists, Lois Pope has positively impacted the lives of individuals at the local, national and international levels. She has established three separate organizations dedicated to helping those in need. These organizations are the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc., Leaders In Furthering Education (LIFE), and the Disabled Veterans’ LIFE Memorial Foundation.  For more than 20 years she has been the driving force behind the Lois Pope LIFE Center at the University of Miami School of Medicine, The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, and a groundbreaking new program with American Humane in Palm Beach County. Lois Pope has recently donated several Lois Pope Rescue Vehicles. Each rescue vehicle is a 50-foot long response unit, complete with a Ford F-350 truck and trailer, which is specifically designed and outfitted to provide an array of animal emergency services and cruelty responses within the region.

On October 5, 2014, Mrs. Pope saw the completion of a decades-long dream – the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, which was dedicated by President Obama in Washington DC.  It will stand in perpetuity as a reminder to the public and legislators of the courage and sacrifices of the four million-plus living disabled veterans and all those who died before them, as well as the need to be vigilant in assuring their support and understanding the human cost of war.  Through her advocacy, October 5 every year will serve as a National Day of Honor for disabled veterans.

A mother and a grandmother, Lois has trained for and completed five New York City Marathons.

About Hallmark Channel
Hallmark Channel is Crown Media Family Networks’ flagship 24-hour cable television network, distributed nationwide in high definition (HD) and standard definition (SD) to 88 million homes. As the country’s leading destination for quality family entertainment, Hallmark Channel delivers on the 100-year legacy of the Hallmark brand. In addition to its signature new, original movies, the network features an ambitious lineup of other new, original content, including scripted primetime series, such as “Good Witch,” “When Calls the Heart” and “Chesapeake Shores“; annual specials including “Kitten Bowl” and “Hero Dog Awards”; and a daily, two-hour lifestyle show, “Home & Family.”  Additionally, Hallmark Channel is the exclusive home to world premiere presentations of the acclaimed Hallmark Hall of Fame franchise. Dedicated to helping viewers celebrate life’s special moments, Hallmark Channel also offers annual holiday programming franchises, including “Countdown to Christmas,” “Countdown to Valentine’s Day,” “Summer Nights,” “Fall Harvest” and “Winterfest.” Rounding out the network’s diverse slate are some of television’s most beloved comedies and series, including “The Golden Girls” and “Frasier.”

Hallmark Cards, Inc. owns and operates Crown Media Family Networks.
To visit the network website, please visit www.hallmarkchannel.com 
Hallmark Channel on Social Media: FacebookTwitterPinterestYouTube

About Zoetis
Zoetis is the leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses. Building on more than 60 years of experience in animal health, Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and markets veterinary vaccines and medicines, complemented by diagnostic products, genetic tests, biodevices and a range of services. Zoetis serves veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for farm and companion animals with sales of its products in more than 100 countries. In 2017, the company generated annual revenue of $5.3 billion with approximately 9,000 employees. For more information, visit www.zoetis.com.

About Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food
Chicken Soup for the Soul understands the unique relationship between people and pets. Health conscious consumers have been feeding their cats and dogs Chicken Soup for the Soul wholesome and balanced, super premium pet food for over 15 years. Holistic in nature, the entire line of products is made from only the finest ingredients: real meats, fruits, vegetables and herbs. With no added corn, wheat, soy, artificial coloring, flavoring or preservatives, Chicken Soup for the Soul pet food is inspired by your love for pets, and promotes overall health and well-being for dogs and cats. The products are proudly made in the USA, and feature rescued shelter pets on every bag. Core and grain-free formulas and a line of treats are available in independent pet specialty stores nationwide and online.

A portion of all proceeds from the sale of Chicken Soup for the Soul pet food goes to help shelters and pets in need through Chicken Soup for the Soul’s Fill-a-Bowl … Feed-a-Soul™ program. The program, which was launched in association with the American Humane, aims to provide over a million meals to shelter pets annually. www.chickensouppets.com.

About Modern Dog magazine
Modern Dog — “the best dog magazine ever” and the #1 dog publication in North America — is a must-read for dog lovers. Your source for the best ideas and solutions for life with dogs, Modern Dog features training tips, insight into your dog’s behavior, the best gear, wellness, rescue, DIY how-tos, contests and more! A large part of Modern Dog’s mission is to support rescue and the organizations that work tirelessly to help dogs in need. Find Modern Dog online — www.moderndogmagazine.com — on newsstands across North America, and on all major social platforms. Modern Dog, your guide to a better bond with your dog!