Pumi dog

Behind the Velvet Ropes of 2016 National Dog Show

This Thanksgiving is going to the dogs once more. In true time-honored tradition, NBC will present the 15th anniversary edition of its popular holiday special, “The National Dog Show Presented by Purina®” on Thanksgiving Day (noon-2 p.m. in all time zones), Nov. 24, following the telecast of NBC’s “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.”

The dog show is a yearly viewing tradition in our house. Fidose of Reality has a behind the velvet ropes insider scoop for you, as we were privy to a teleconference with hosts, David Frei, an American Kennel Club-licensed judge and former host of USA Network’s “Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show,” and award-winning actor, author and Broadway star John O’Hurley (“Seinfeld,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “Devious Maids”).

David Frei
Me with David Frei.

What is the Kennel Club of Philadelphia’s National Dog Show?

Over 20 million viewers are reached in this dog show, attendees of the event are privy to a benched dog show, meaning the public can interact with the dogs and their owner/handlers ahead of time. All of the competing breeds are on display for attendees to see.

“We have upwards of 30,000 people a day that come through there and it’s wonderful and they’ve got the idea that a benched show like ours is a place that children will have a full day of fun and that’s what they – that seems to be the way that it’s grown,” O’Hurley said during a recent press conference.

Famous broadcaster, David Frei, will once again bring his suave descriptions and jovial humor to the ring as co-host. He said one of the new breeds in this year’s show is the Pumi.

“The Pumi looks like a koala bear more than any other breed of dog,” Frei stated. “It’s a little, curly black-coated dog and its standard says its supposed to have a whimsical look about it…it creates that with its facial expression and ears.”

Getting to Know Three Canine Competitors

There are three new breeds making their debut in this year’s show: The American Hairless Terrier, the Pumi, and the Sloughi. With these first-time additions, a total of 43 new breeds have been introduced to the competition since 2003.

This year’s Pumi that viewers will watch strut his stuff is Bali, Cypress Bay’s Balint At Kadarka”  born 8/17/2015. His breeder is Debra Thornton, also an AKC judge, who lives in Virginia.

His co-owners (Theresa Weber, Marie Arechaederra and Neil Berger) told  Fidose of Reality that Bali has a true zest for life.  He loves to run and  fetch to show off his natural agility skills. Oh, and he is a snuggler, dog lovers! While he is a very active boy he is also loves to snuggle.

Pumi at dog show
Photo courtesy Florence Tambone, Tambone Associates

Another pooch with some punch to watch in the ring this week is Ronin, a miniature Bull Terrier. He has spent his entire life in Nottingham, New Hampshire, where mother and daughter team Kathy Brosnan and her daughter Erin are longtime breeders of miniature Bull Terriers.

This 31-pound ball of energy is a total people’s pooch, who adores flirting with fans and finagling food (particularly bananas and donuts) from his doting family. Despite his youth (he celebrated his first birthday November 5th), Ronin has already launched a secondary career as a print model in dog catalogs.

Miniature Bull Terrier Ronin
Photo courtesy Florence Tambone, Tambone Associates

Golden Retriever, Tracker, will appear on the Today Show this Wednesday, November 23rd, with John O’Hurley in anticipation of the big show. Tracker is ranked 14th in the breed, which is a waggy big deal, meaning he is the #14 best Golden Retriever in the country.

This 5-1/2-year-old Golden lives in Philadelphia with Nancy Lewine, who travels the country on weekends to show her famous pooch. With over 16,000 likes on his Facebook page, Tracker has amassed quite the following in conjunction with his popular YouTube video.


Tracker the Golden Retriever smiling
Tracker photo courtesy GoldenSouldDogs Facebook page.

Breeds of the Broadcasters

With all of this pomp and dog show circumstance, O’Hurley and Frey dished about the dogs who share their lives.

Frei has a Britney Spaniel named Grace, a retired show champion who also is a certified therapy dog and does lots of therapy work. “And my Cavalier, Angel, who has dabbled in the show world but makes her impact as a therapy dog.”

Before that, Frei had an Afghan Hound, so those are his three breeds of record. He admits, however, he is supposed to like all breeds, and he does.

Side note: This long-time dog mom and writer/blogger is a self-admitted Freinatic and told him so when he hosted the BlogPaws Nose-to-Nose Awards Ceremony.

O’Hurley has the cousin to David’s cavalier.

“Her name is Sadie and she’s just about the same age,” he shared.” She has a little bit of an overbite, so she is not show material but she doesn’t know that and we don’t tell her. And I find that that’s healthy if she has the healthier self-image. We also have a breed called a Havanese which is a wonderful breed and a little larger than a Maltese would be.  I have come to love that breed as the absolute – if there is a perfect breed for families that just want a good, family dog that is the one I would recommend.”

David Frei with fans
I am a true Frei-natic (seen with Amy Jo Hanna Eckenrode on left)

During the Competition: Behind the Scenes

As a member of the press, this dog show attendee can absolutely attest that there are many fun and engaging moments that happen with the competing dogs off camera. The National Dog Show is no different.

O’Hurley says that though the dog is in the ring for two minutes, it takes awhile to get him to that point.

“For some people, it’s a lifetime of involvement with the breeds,” he shared, “But there’s conditioning, tradining, road work, grooming, bathing, and stuff that goes on at the day of the show to get the dog ready for the ring. Then they must compete at three different levels.”

The duo are also enthused about the soon-to-launch Beverly Hills Dog Show.

Frei explains it this way: “The basic background is that there were the three major dog shows and they were all east coast based: The Westminster Kennel Club, the National Dog Show in Philadelphia, and the AKC National Championship in Orlando, Florida. So it made sense to look to the west. When the contract at the NBC and USA Network ended with Westminster they said, “What are we going to do for this?” and they chose Beverly Hills partly because it’s just down the street from where John lives and we knew they could commit him right away and we thought it would be fun to be there with the celebrities and having a nice, warm weather climate to do a dog show in and John I know is very excited to have that be there in his backyard.”

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

Will you be watching the dog show on Thanksgiving Day?



  1. I showed my Chinese Crested Powderpuff (the one fully covered in hair), Tyson at the National Dog Show. Our favorite part was visiting with all the spectators! Tyson LOVES people! He is named in honor of Neil deGrasse Tyson the Astrophysicist who runs the Hayden Planetarium in NYC. His full registered name is Lejo’s Keep Looking Up at Blue Star.

  2. The dog demonstration is a annual seeing tradition in our household. That is overwhelming. Happy Thanksgiving

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.