Now this was an assignment I could sink my teeth into. On Saturday night, I attended the American Humane Association’s “Hero Dog Awards” ceremony in Los Angeles. You see, my company’s mascot, Sparky the Fire Dog, was named “official spokesdog” for this star-studded event, so when I got offered the opportunity to work the red carpet at the Beverly Hilton, I jumped at the chance.
The award ceremony recognized America’s most courageous canines – ordinary dogs who do astonishing things: saving lives on the battlefield, lending sight, hearing, or medical assistance to their human companions, unselfishly aiding law enforcement, arson investigators, and search and rescue workers, or providing uncompromising love and compassion as therapy dogs. (And before you ask – no, Otis was not nominated this year. But there’s always 2013.)
Media gather alongside the red carpet.
OK – so it's an event that celebrates the amazing ability of dogs to take on extraordinary tasks, and who regularly befriend and comfort us, combined with a chance to get-up-and-personal with some real-life Hollywood celebrities? Did this night have my name written all over it, or what? Truly, it was a thrill to be there at the Beverly Hilton, (home to the annual Golden Globe Awards), jostling for space with dozens of photographers, camera crews, and other media types awaiting for the red carpet entrances.
My assigned spot was near the end of the carpet, and there was a big concrete pillar to my left, so I couldn’t see who was approaching until they got pretty close. But I could hear the shouts and the whirring camera clicks from the big media representatives stationed near the front door. It was all really exciting, not knowing who was coming around the corner. Organizers provided us with “cheat sheets”, handouts featuring color photographs and the names of the celebrities who were scheduled to appear, just in case we couldn’t match up names with faces.
And when the march down the carpet began, it all happened fast and furious.
John Paul DeJoria, co-founder of the Paul Mitchell hair empire, and owner/operator of many other businesses, including The House of Blues.
Lois Pope, of the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, a longtime supporter of the American Humane Association.
Sparky the Fire Dog hits the red carpet.
Jake Austin from Disney’s “Wizards of Waverly Place”.
Swimmer Ricky Berens, who together with Ryan Lochte, Conor Dwyer, and Michael Phelps, won a gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London in the men's 4x200 freestyle relay.
Bailee Madison, the young star of the film “Just Go With It”.
Michael Vartan from the television series "Alias" and “Hawthorne”.
Lou Wegner from the films “Doughboy” and “Trouble with the Curve”.
The lovely and talented (and very nice) Naomi Judd. Naomi makes up one-half of the mother/daughter country singing act The Judds”. She was two feet in front of me, being interviewed by a video crew, and admittedly, I was a little starstruck. I took a few photos and then stood there smiling like a kid on Christmas morning. I caught her eye and she gave me a big grin.
Oh my god! Edie McClurg! Who doesn’t love Edie McClurg, one of America's best character actresses?
Lots of shouts from the front end of the red carpet meant somebody really important was coming my way. Suddenly, I caught sight of the blonde and tiny Kristin Chenowith, who was hosting the evening’s events.
You may know Kristin Chenoweth for her turn as the original “Glinda” the good witch in Broadway’s “Wicked”. She’s also been on a bunch of TV shows, including two seasons on “The West Wing”, “Pushing Daisies”, “The Good Wife”, and in the Emmy-nominated role of April Rhodes on “Glee”.
Megyn Price from the TV series “Rules of Engagement” and “Grounded for Life”. This photo doesn’t do her justice – she is really gorgeous.
Jake Pavelka, best known from the reality TV show “The Bachelor”.
And what’s a Hollywood party without Candy Spelling? Married to uber producer Aaron Spelling until his death in 2006, and mother of actress Tori Spelling, she’s also famous for having owned one of the largest and most elaborate mansions in Los Angeles, with more than 120 rooms. She sold it in 2011 for $85 million.
Lisa Vanderpump from the reality TV series “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” arrived at the event carrying her dog.
The very funny and down-to-earth Pauley Perrette from the TV series NCIS, who was more than happy to chat and pose for photographs.
Mark Steines, longtime co-host of TV’s “Entertainment Tonight”.
The heroes of the evening were certainly the eight canines vying to be named top dog, but in my eyes, the real hero was Betty White, who was on hand to receive the American Humane Association’s “Legacy Award” for her tireless efforts to protect the welfare of animals.
Now really, who doesn’t love Betty White? Everyone was going crazy when she arrived, and she was hustled down the red carpet pretty quickly by her handlers. Funny and vibrant at 90 (did you know we share the same birthday? Different years), it was a real treat to see her in the flesh.
OK -- that's probably enough photos for one post. More coming soon!