It's a rrr-ruff job, but somebody's gotta do it! NBC's 12th annual airing of The National Dog Show Presented by Purina (noon ET) — hosted by John O'Hurley and David Frei — will, as usual, follow the network's telecast of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Last year, the canine contest drew 19.3 million viewers. O'Hurley tells TV Guide Magazine why so many people decided to "Sit!" and "Stay!"
TV Guide Magazine: How did Turkey Day and the National Dog Show become this perfect match?
O'Hurley: Football has a tendency to divide and sequester. Dogs bring everyone together. There are 78 million of them in this country and Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks for them, as well! We do the show before 20,000 people in a convention center in Philadelphia and they all become a kinder, gentler version of themselves as a result of being around 1500 dogs. There's a great feeling of calm, a great sense of joy. The place is full of positively charged ions! We could solve the world's problems if we sat our leaders down to discuss things in the presence of a few pups.
TV Guide Magazine: Any new breeds in the contest this year?
O'Hurley: We have three — the chinook, the rat terrier and the Portuguese podengo pequeno. [Laughs] I just know I'm going to screw up that last one. In 2011 they added the xoloitzcuintli from Mexico. I practiced for three weeks in the mirror while shaving and still couldn't get it right!
TV Guide Magazine: This program has come such a long way!
O'Hurley: Boy, has it! That first year we did the show, none of us knew what we were doing. There was a huge learning curve and not just for us humans. The dogs couldn't stop barking at the cameras! Now they have it down. [NBC Sports programming chief] Jon Miller got the idea for the National Dog Show after watching the movie satire Best in Show. He was just about laughed out of the office. But here we are, still going strong.
TV Guide Magazine: It's not all about purebreds with you, is it? Your new Dr. Seuss-like children's book The Perfect Dog ends with — spoiler alert! — "The dog that is perfect is the one next to you."
O'Hurley: The book is based on a poem I wrote for my son, Will, and performed at last year's dog show. Isn't that how all dog owners feel? It's great to tune in and see all these perfect-specimen show dogs doing their thing but, trust me, a lot of people at home will be throwing things at the screen, going, "Hey, my dog's cuter than that!"