Emmy Award-Winning Journalist & Host Maria Menounos and Her Dog Whinnie Team up to Encourage Dog Owners to Join Purina’s #DogThanking Movement.
MARIA MENOUNOS, Emmy Award-winning journalist and host of Apple Podcast “Conversations with Maria”
In celebration of the National Dog Show Presented by Purina and the Thanksgiving holiday, Purina invites dog lovers across the nation to share why they are thankful for their pet, using #DogThanking and tagging @Purina. This November, Purina wants to recognize the four-legged friends who make our lives so special, especially those pets that act as service animals to veterans across the country.
From November 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 La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation’s 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. Additionally, through Veterans Day, the Purina Dog Chow Service Dog Salute campaign is also paying tribute to our armed forces and the loyal dogs that serve them by sharing their stories and donating up to $500,000.
The National Dog Show will premiere on Thanksgiving Day on NBC at noon in all time zones. In its 17th year, the show celebrates man’s best friend and continues an established family holiday tradition. The show will crown one of America’s great dogs as its 2018 champion, bringing canine competition and entertainment to more than 20 million viewers. More than 2,000 dogs representing more than 175 breeds will vie for Best in Show honors. Beloved TV personality John O’Hurley, best known as “J. Peterman” on Seinfeld, will serve as show co-host, along with veteran dog show analyst David Frei. NBC sports commentator Mary Carillo will also be participating as a National Dog Show correspondent.
MORE ABOUT MARIA MENOUNOS:
As a journalist, Emmy Award Winner, Maria Menounos, holds the distinct honor of having conducted the only interview with the entire Obama family: an interview touted by ABC News as the top defining moments leading to Obama’s victory. Maria’s achievements have thus far set numerous like industry milestones. Her groundbreaking conversational style of reporting led her, at the age of 22, to become the youngest person ever to host “Entertainment Tonight.” She would go on to do the same for the “Today” show and “Nightly News" AND become the first person in the history of Hollywood to report for network news and star in a wide-release feature film. Currently, Maria hosts the leading female Apple Podcast, 'Conversations with Maria!’ Maria is also THE most viewed face in all of American cinema as Host and Producer of NCM's 'Noovie', the cinema pre-show seen daily, before each and every feature, on 70% of America's movie screens.
David Frei to be Inducted into the DWAA Hall of Fame
Iconic dog show host and award-winning author receives highest honor
(New York, NY – December 6, 2017) – The Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) has selected David Frei as the 2017 Hall of Fame Inductee for outstanding contributions to the field. He will accept the award on February 10, 2018 at the DWAA Awards Banquet at the Hotel New Yorker in Manhattan.
“I am truly humbled by this honor given to me by my peers and colleagues and friends,” Frei said. “To be a part of this collection of great and talented people who are already inductees is truly special. I know that I share with them the great fortune of having wonderful dogs making my life better every single day. I thank the Dog Writers Association of America for including me.”
Being inducted into the DWAA Hall of Fame is the latest of Frei’s many career accomplishments. New York Magazine once called David Frei "probably the most famous human in the world of canines.”
As the co-host of NBC’s National Dog Show Presented by Purina since its inception in 2002, David is seen every Thanksgiving Day by the largest TV audience for any dog show – more than 25 million viewers in 2017. It is the same role that he perfected in 27 years as the longtime (1990-2016) co-host of USA Network’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. He has now added to his duties with NBC/USA as co-host of the Beverly Hills Dog Show, which debuted on Easter in 2017.
Being America’s “dog guy” has brought him many appearances on network television, including "Today," “NBC Nightly News,” "Good Morning America," "Fox & Friends," "The View”, Martha Stewart," and more. The dogs have taken him to the White House for a visit with the President, for a ride on a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange, to throw out the first pitch at two Major League Baseball games, to a role on HBO’s “Sex And The City” and even to an appearance as a pastry judge on the Food Network’s “Best In Show” competition.
A breeder-owner-handler and judge in the world of purebred dogs for more than 40 years, he has enjoyed much competitive success with his Afghan Hounds, Brittanys and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. His dog, Ch. Stormhill’s Who’s Zoomin’ Who, was the top Afghan Hound in the country in 1989 and retired as the top-winning female in the history of the breed. As a judge, he has officiated at shows in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Denmark and China.
But David’s true passion comes from the work that his dogs have been doing as therapy dogs at places such as the Ronald McDonald House and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York (where his Brittanys, Teigh and Belle, were the first therapy dogs ever allowed into these facilities), and at New York’s VA Medical Center. After Teigh and Belle passed, David’s Cavalier, Angel, and his Brittany, Grace, took over for them at many New York facilities.
While at Westminster, he created a charitable activity, Angel On A Leash, to support a therapy dog program at New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital. Angel On A Leash later became an independent charity with him as founder and president, creating and advocating for therapy dog programs many places, expanding nationwide and receiving many honors for its wonderful accomplishments.
David’s second book, Angel On A Leash (named after the charity), is his view of his world of therapy dogs and his life in dogs, and was the 2012 winner of a Dog Writers Association of America’s Maxwell Award as best depiction of the human-animal bond. David was also the co-author, with Mike Lingenfelter, of The Angel By My Side in 2002. Also a DWAA Maxwell winner, it tells the story of Dakota, Mike’s heroic Golden Retriever service dog. David’s third book, about his years at Westminster, is underway.
He also served as director of communications for Westminster from 2003 to 2015, during which time he was recognized with awards from the DWAA (its AKC Distinguished Service Award), the World Dog Press Association, the Association of Purebred Dog Writers (the Stonehenge Award), and Purina (Better with Pets Award).
Petside.com named him as the Pet Person of the Year in 2011, and in 2015, Dog Fancy magazine, in its final issue, included him in a retrospective, “45 People Who Changed the Dog World.”
He has been honored for his work with Angel On A Leash by the American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, the ASPCA, the Pet Philanthropy Circle and a number of other organizations. He is a past board member for Take The Lead and Morris Animal Foundation, and a past member of the St. Jude Children’s Hospital Sports Council. He has also been recognized for his volunteer efforts with Transfiguration Church and School in New York’s Chinatown for many years.
A native of Eugene, Oregon, David lived in Seattle for 20 years where he owned two popular sports bar restaurants and his own PR agency. He then moved to New York City in 2002, working fulltime for the Westminster Kennel Club before moving to Cannon Beach, Oregon, in 2016, and now works as a consultant for NBC Sports. Previously, he held public relations positions with the Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers and ABC-TV Sports in New York.
“David Frei is such an inspiration to the dog-writing community,” said Jen Reeder, DWAA’s president. “He is beloved not just by writers, but by dog lovers across the country and world. We’re thrilled to recognize him with our organization’s highest honor, which he so richly deserves.”
For more information, visit: dogwriters.org.
The Dog Writers Association of America is the most recognized professional writing association devoted to dogs. Founded in 1935, the DWAA has grown from eight founders to over 500 members, including journalists, authors, bloggers, publicists, photographers, illustrators and media personalities. Under the umbrella of the human-canine bond, members cover dog competitions, health, training, rescue, pet fashion, veterinary research, working dog organizations, animal welfare legislation, fundraisers and many other topics. For more information, visit: dogwriters.org.
In celebration of the National Dog Show and the Thanksgiving holiday, Purina invites dog lovers across the world to share why the dog sitting next to them is the best through its annual #DogThanking initiative. The proceeds from this social media program will be donated to support people and pets affected by hurricanes in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and other areas.
Dog owners are encouraged to log onto Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to post photos or videos showing why the beloved dog sitting next to them is the best by using the hashtag #DogThanking. For every original post submitted through November 26 using the hashtag and tagging @Purina, they will donate one dollar to GreaterGood.org (up to $50,000) an organization devoted to improving the health and well-being of people, pets, and the planet. More specifically, the donations raised will be used to support hurricane relief for pets and people.
The National Dog Show will premiere on Thanksgiving Day at noon in all time zones. For the 16th year, the show will bring canine competition and entertainment to America’s viewers and crown one of America’s great dogs as its 2017 champion. More than 1,700 dogs representing more than 175 breeds will vie for Best in Show honors. The show is watched by more than 25 million viewers annually. Beloved TV personality John O’Hurley, best known as “J. Peterman” on Seinfeld, will serve as show co-host, along with veteran dog show analyst David Frei.
For more information please visit www.purina.com
MORE ABOUT ANDY COHEN:
Andy Cohen is an Emmy Award-winning host, producer, and author best known as the host and executive producer of “Watch What Happens Live,” Bravo’s late night, interactive talk show. The series is the only live show in Late Night, and features everyone from “Bravolebrities” to big names in pop culture, including Oprah Winfrey, Cher, Lady Gaga, Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lopez, Will Ferrell, and Jimmy Fallon. He also serves as executive producer of “The Real Housewives” franchise and hosts the network’s highly rated reunion specials. In 2014, Details Magazine called the show, “compulsively engrossing,” while touting Cohen as a “genius;” possibly “the smartest man on TV;” GQ describes “Watch What Happens Live” as “the most primitively authentic ting on television” and TV Guide thinks it’s late night’s “unlikeliest success story.” In his ten years as an executive at Bravo he was responsible for an aggressive slate of unscripted series and specials including hits such as "Project Runway,” “Top Chef,” “Queer Eye,” "The Millionaire Matchmaker,” “Million Dollar Listing,” “Being Bobby Brown,” “Shahs of Sunset,” “Flipping Out,” “Top Design,” “Work Out,” “Make Me a Supermodel,” “Blow Out,” “Kathy Griffin My Life On the D List,” “The A List Awards” “The Rachel Zoe Project,” “Work of Art: The Next Great Artist,” “Bethenny Ever After,” “Tabatha’s Salon Takeover,” and “The Real Housewives” franchises.
NATIONAL DOG SHOW THERAPY DOG AMBASSADOR TEAM ADDS FOUR NEW MEMBERS FOR 2016
Philadelphia, PA— The Kennel Club of Philadelphia’s Therapy Dog Ambassador Team will add four new members in 2016, with Aladdin, Butler, Xena and Willow joining the five returnees from last year.
This seven-year tradition now brings together a dynamic team of nine canines, who make regular visits to hospitals and healthcare facilities, including the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House, where they help to comfort patients and their families. The Kennel Club of Philadelphia’s National Dog Shows involve the canine stars as members of its Therapy Dog Ambassador Team to promote the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House and the annual dog shows hosted by the Kennel Club of Philadelphia each November.
The 2016 National Dog Show Therapy Dog Ambassador Team includes:
v Lil’ Abner, age 6, and Stella, age 8, are Dogues de Bordeux who together create a memorable 280-pound experience whenever they walk into a room. Lil’Abner won a blue Ribbon in the novice Dogue de Bordeaux class at the 2011 National Dog Show. Abner and Stella are owned by Steven & Donna Kramer of Langhorne, and Steven is a certified evaluator for Therapy Dog International.
v Waylon, age 11, is a Belgian Sheepdog and son of the late, former Therapy Dog Ambassador, Eli. He is a retired show dog and visits each summer at the Ronald McDonald Camp in the Poconos. He is owned and handled by Sherry Hanley of Allentown, a retired Lehigh County deputy sheriff.
v Vivian, age 6, is a Staffordshire Terrier mix who was named the Philadelphia Federal Credit Union’s Neighborhood Hero for 2014. She spent time with the New Leash on Life USA program, being socialized by incarcerated individuals before their release back into society. Vivian is owned and handled by Michele Pich, a grief counselor at the University of Pennsylvania School Of Veterinary Medicine, who has been directing the VetPets Animal-Assisted Activities program at the Ronald McDonald House since 2010.
v Benny, age 2, is a 57- pound English Bulldog who regularly visits the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House as well as St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. Along with Abner and Stella, Benny is owned by Steven & Donna Kramer.
v Aladdin, age 5, has been recognized by American Humane Hero Dog Awards and was a finalist in the Hero Dog of the Year in Therapy category. He is the ambassador for nationwide animal abuse campaign Show Your Soft Side. Aladdin is owned by Michele Shaffer-Stevens, who is chairperson of the National Dog Show Gala organizing committee.
v Xena, age 3, Shih Tzu – Yorkie mix and Willow, age 2, rescued Shih Tzu – Poodle mix. They visit the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House on a weekly basis and are also active members of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Pet Therapy program. They also make home visits to kids in hospice care. Xena and Willow are owned and handled by Emily Martin of Philadelphia, PA.
v Butler, age 4, Shepherd mix, is a spokesdog for American Humane Association and the official therapy dog of The Weather Channel. Butler serves as a first responder for both organizations, providing comfort to children and families whose lives have been adversely affected by disaster. He was rescued from a shelter by owner and handler Dr. Amy McCullough, national director of Humane Research and Therapy for American Humane Association, the country’s first national humane organization.
The National Dog Show Therapy Dog Ambassador Team was founded by the late Rufus, the accomplished, Colored Bull Terrier who retired to a celebrated career as a therapy dog after winning the National Dog Show Presented by Purina in 2005 and following that up by triumphing at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show three months later in New York City. Rufus was joined two years later by the late Eli, the Belgian Sheepdog who showed in Philadelphia before retiring to therapy work. Eli was one of the last few living therapy dogs who comforted victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City.
All nine dogs play a vital role in helping to make a difference in people’s lives. In addition to their weekly work at hospitals, nursing homes, and institutions, the Therapy Dog Ambassadors will be making therapy visits and media appearances in conjunction with National Dog Show activities in Philadelphia and New York City.
After 27 years of exploring the wonder of man’s best friend with millions of dog-loving television viewers around the world as the broadcast co-host, David Frei said goodbye to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show this past February with nary a tinge of sadness or regret.
“The dog world is a big place,” Frei offers gleefully from his new home in Cannon Beach, Oregon. “Much bigger than when I started and growing still. And now I’m a part of guiding that growth for the good of the sport. This is that rare moment in time when I truly have the best of both worlds.”
One of those worlds is The National Dog Show Presented by Purina, the now 15 year-old NBC Thanksgiving Day special that has become appointment television for millions of families together for their traditional, November holiday celebration. Another is Frei’s newest challenge, The Beverly Hills Dog Show presented by Purina, a newly-minted endeavor hosted by the Kennel Club of Beverly Hills, headed for USA Network television screens in 2017 – on Easter Sunday.
Where he once had limitations about what he could and could not work on (Frei was also the fulltime Director of Communications for Westminster), he now has the freedom to survey the landscape, pick his spots and apply his decades of marketing, public relations and television knowledge to projects that embody his passion for pets.
As the expert analyst of The National Dog Show, he is known as the voice of the dog show world, but he recently hosted a cat show on the Hallmark Channel, The Kitten Summer Games. He is the executive in charge of the Beverly Hills project, able to marry his passion for the sport to its appeal to the masses through television. His newly-liberated schedule includes advocacy work as America’s leader in the growing therapy dog movement, judging at dog shows across the United States and appearing regularly as a spokesperson for the sport, responsible pet ownership and the importance of the human-animal bond.
“Anyone who spends time with dogs will tell you those are their best moments of the day,” Frei asserts. “I’ve seen miracles in hospital rooms when an ill child encounters the love, innocence and energy of a trained therapy dog. I get to work with dogs. I get to work with dog people. And I get to do it in new and different ways while continuing in my role as an on-air commentator talking directly to the audiences.”
Frei’s relationships in the dog world have been particularly useful as he develops this newest TV product with a celebrity component in America’s entertainment industry capital of Hollywood. John O’Hurley, the popular Seinfeld and Dancing With The Stars personality and host of The National Dog Show, lives in Beverly Hills and is playing a role in recruiting celebrity dog lovers for the project. Kennel Club of Beverly Hills officials are thrilled with the TV exposure on tap for their annual show and appreciate working with Frei, who speaks their language and understands the intricacies of producing the Best In Show competition among thousands of entrants encompassing more than 200 breeds and varieties.
“My dogs have changed my life,” Frei says. “And they have changed the lives of a lot of other people, too -- formally as therapy dogs but also informally, ‘on the street,’ through their spontaneity and unconditional love for everyone. I want to inspire people to get their own dogs out there doing something for people in need.
“The dogs are truly the stars in my world. And our shows on NBC and USA Network are truly a celebration of the dogs in our lives -- show dogs, therapy dogs, purebreds and mixed breeds. We should thank them every day for letting us be on the other end of their leashes.”
“David Frei unplugged,” the subject mused. “Okay. Unplugged. But with the electricity and excitement of our canine friends energizing me every day.”
David Frei, one of the most authoritative voices in the dog show world, is a natural choice to serve as the expert analyst for NBC’s The National Dog Show Presented by Purina®.
An American Kennel Club (AKC)-licensed judge who has officiated dog shows all over the world, Frei has hosted USA Network’s coverage of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show from Madison Square Garden since 1990 and has a myriad of other television credits. He has co-hosted the National Dog Show since its inception in 2002.
In 2011, Frei published Angel on a Leash (BowTie Press), which tells of his years of experience and work with therapy dogs. His first book, The Angel By My Side (Hay House), published in 2002 with Mike Lingenfelter, tells the true story of the Delta Society Service Dog of the Year that helped save a man suffering from numerous heart complications. The book claimed two Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) awards in 2002.
In the dog show world, Frei has enjoyed much competitive success as a breeder/handler/owner of Afghan Hounds and Brittanys. Despite this competitive success, Frei is most proud of the work that his dogs do in therapy efforts, visiting patients and families at the Ronald McDonald House of New York and at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
Frei is the Director of Communications for the Westminster Kennel Club, and before that, was the Director of Media Relations for the American Kennel Club. He is the founder and chief executive of Angel on a Leash, a non-profit foundation that facilitates therapy dog visits to patients in hospitals and healthcare facilities around the country. He is a member of the Sports Council for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis and volunteers at Transfiguration Church and School in New York’s Chinatown.
Frei has held public relations positions with the Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers and ABC-TV Sports in New York. He lives in New York City with his wife Cherilyn, the Chaplain and Director of Family Support at the Ronald McDonald House in New York.
Traditional holiday TV special, hosted by John O’Hurley & David Frei,
has become America’s showcase for the canine, man’s best friend
New York, NY (October xx, 2011) – NBC will present the 10th edition of its popular holiday special “The National Dog Show Presented by Purina®” this Thanksgiving Day, reaching an unusual milestone for a broadcast television offering that has shown uncommon staying power in the volatile landscape of network TV.
The family-oriented celebration of dogdom airs from noon - 2 p.m. in all time zones following the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade again this year, providing America and its 65 million pet-owning households a show with mass appeal before football takes over the day.
It is a celebration of America’s fascination with man’s best friend, hosted by John O’Hurley, the Seinfeld ensemble actor (catalogue king J. Peterman) and ultimate champion on ABC’s inaugural “Dancing With The Stars.” O’Hurley is joined by expert analyst David Frei, who is the voice of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on USA Network and America’s foremost authority on the sport.
Unlike traditional dog show coverage, the special offers family-oriented features, facilitated by the open format of the Kennel Club of Philadelphia event, one of only five remaining “benched” shows in which dogs from over 170 breeds are on display all day for the visiting public.
“We have actually generated a legion of long-term fans and established a family holiday tradition,” stated Jon Miller, President of Programming for NBC Sports and VERSUS, who conceived the idea. Miller had rented the movie Best In Show, the Christopher Guest-produced “mockumentary” which famously pokes fun at the character-rich show dog world. “I believed that a major dog show could attract and entertain the mass audience that network TV provides.”
The show more than quadrupled the previous year’s time slot rating and ten years later is averaging almost 20 million total viewers as part of a five-hour block of family programming on the most family-centric holiday of the year.
“My hope is that my grandchildren get to watch the show with their grandchildren on Thanksgiving Day,” Miller concluded.
The host of the National Dog Show (www.nationaldogshow.com), O’Hurley, has written two humorous books on the subject and provides the whimsical, “everyman” viewpoint. Frei is the industry’s most knowledgeable voice, an owner, handler, judge, author and social media personality who advocates for the increased use of therapy dogs in hospitals and medical care facilities.
But the stars of the show are the purebred dogs, up to 2,000 of which compete for the title of “Best In Show” during the telecast, which will introduce to the American viewing public six new American Kennel Club-sanctioned breeds - Entlebucher Mountain Dog, Norwegian Lundehund, Xoloitzcuintli, American English Coonhound, Cesky Terrier and Finnish Lapphund.