Hallmark Channel Gives Rescue Dogs Their Own Version of the Westminster Dog Show

Beloved Rescue Dogs Compete In Categories Like Best Underbite And Best In Snoring

By Si Si Penaloza

Photo: Hallmark Channel


The 142nd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, America’s second-longest continuously held sporting event recently crowned Flynn the Bichon Frise as winner. Now, at this level of competition, there is just no doubt as to Flynn’s flying high pedigree. With the rise in popularity of rescue and mixed breed pups, we are delighted to see that reflected in the Hallmark Channel’s programming. Though we can’t help but wonder why Amazon Studios, Netflix, Hulu and the networks didn’t follow through on a concept like this first.

Photo: Hallmark Channel

On Feb. 19, the Hallmark Channel aired its first American Rescue Dog Show. The landmark event featured lovable shelter dogs from a mashup of breeds and mixes. As long as a dog is a rescue, he or she can compete. The 2018 American Rescue Dog Show was hosted by pet lovers Rebecca Romijn and Rich Eisen, and will also feature celebrity judges like Linda Blair, Rick Springfield, Brandon McMillan, Andrea Arden, and Lisa Arturo. The hilarious Ross Mathews and Larissa Wohl covered all of the four-legged fun as the show’s official commentators. The show’s beloved mascot was Happy The Dog, Hallmark Channel’s own rescued and adopted pet who stars in movies and TV specials while also serving as a certified therapy dog and emotional support animal.


Photo: Hallmark Channel


This year, savvy original programming executives at  Hallmark Channel decided it was time for the underdog to finally gain wide recognition, acceptance and endearing accolades. The 2018 American Rescue Dog Show invites you to help save lives through adoption of shelter pets. This competition includes mixed breed and purebred rescue dogs competing in a variety of cute categories, all with the goal of ending pet homelessness.

The best bit? The plucky, whimsical and often hysterical competition categories!

Photo: Hallmark Channel

The mission of this inaugural national rescue dog competition is “to celebrate rescue dogs in a personality-driven competition.” Pups from coast to coast competed in categories such as Best in Couch Potato, Best in Wiggle Butt, Best in Underbite, Best in Talking, Best in Snoring, Best in Senior Dog, Best in Fetcher, Best in Kissing, Best in Special Needs, and Best in Listener. Each winner received a $5,000 donation to the rescue organization of their choice. The top 10 dogs from these groups will face off for the night’s biggest award: Best in Rescue. The Petco Foundation is providing $75,000 in non-profit grants to the winners.


Photo: Hallmark Channel

For well over a century, rescue dogs have been maligned and slighted from entry to the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. The show dog world has traditionally existed as an absurd universe onto itself – famously parodied by Christopher Guest’s Best in Show. Though some may not know it, mixed breed dogs are allowed at the Westminster Dog Show, as long as they’re competing in the agility competition, the one portion of the show event that is not reserved for purebred canines only.

Photo: Hallmark Channel

The dozens of dogs competing in the first-of-its-kind doggy showdown will be vying to win a range of adorable groups, from Best in Wiggle Butt to Best in Snoring. The ten winners of their categories then faced off in the final round of Best in Rescue. In the end, the affable and irresistible 11-year-old Jackie, who won the Best in Senior Dog category, was awarded the grand Best in Rescue prize. The glorious title comes with $25,000 donated to A Purposeful Rescue. Jackie was left at a shelter when she was ten years old and hours before she was scheduled to be euthanized, her family rescued her. This bedtime snuggler is reputed to lavish affection on everyone she meets and enjoys afternoon swim sessions.

Photo: Hallmark Channel

“It’s such an incredible idea for a show. It’s a chance to encourage people to ‘adopt, not shop,’ to showcase these unbelievable creatures and help end the epidemic of animal homelessness. A lot of people may not understand that there are so many beautiful dogs, pure breeds as well as mixed breeds, who need to be rescued,” Romijn told PEOPLE about American Rescue Dog Show.

“We are proud to honor rescue pets and raise awareness of how truly special these animals are,” said Bill Abbott, President and CEO, Crown Media Family Networks. “There are beautiful animals available at local shelters and we encourage our viewers to choose adoption through our pet programming, which is at the heart of our brand.”

Photo: Hallmark Channel

Every day, thousands of animals across the United States are euthanized because shelters don’t have the capacity or resources to care for them until these animals can find forever homes. The American Rescue Dog Show raises awareness about an important issue facing this country. It’s wonderful to see a network dedicate prime-time hours to helping animals in need.

A highly-qualified dog show judge from Salinas, California appeared on this show, giving the event much welcomed gravitas. David Alexander, 70, of Pine Canyon, was recruited for this momentous broadcast to the delight of rescue advocates and show insiders. Alexander, who has judged at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City, was reportedly on his way to a dog show in Palm Springs with his wife Carolyn when he got the call. It was from the company hired by Hallmark to produce the show, Michael Levitt Productions.

Photo: Hallmark Channel

The Hallmark production is modeled after the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, but the contest is personality-driven and meant to entertain first and foremost. And yes, because our inquiring minds wanted to know too – the scoring on Best in Snoring was judged by video captured prior to the show.

Photo: Hallmark Channel

Keller and Clementine had me crying within five seconds of Best in Special Needs, Keller is deaf while Clementine has suffered nerve damage. Edited to ‘Scars To Your Beautiful’ by Alessia Cara may have had something to do with it too. Along with watching the dogs compete, viewers wept while touching stories about the pooch players and what odds they overcame to end up in their loving forever homes.

Photo: Hallmark Channel

Peaches was literally the best part of my day, watching her snore was so tender and hilarious. Viewers may have thought Colonel the boxer was robbed, but we assure you, Peaches had it in the bag with her joker-esque lip curl at the end of her video evidence. Can’t feel too bad for Colonel, he couldn’t be happier with his adopted family. He likes to snuggle up on the sofa with them while watching movies and snores away!