When John O'Hurley insists that "anything can happen" during NBC's Thanksgiving telecast of the National Dog Show, you had better believe him.
After all, sometimes a dog's gotta do what a dog's gotta do.
The magnificent creatures competing for Best in Show usually are on their best behavior.
But O'Hurley, who's hosting for the 11th year in a row, knows that disaster can strike at any moment.
"I think it was Year Three when a Great Dane passed right in front of me and my co-host David Frei," O'Hurley says. "The dog stopped, turned and looked at us. Then he squatted down and left us a little personal commentary on our performance."
O'Hurley, the former Seinfeld star and a Dancing With the Stars fan favorite, didn't take it personally. But he has given Great Danes a wide berth ever since. Just in case.
The National Dog Show airs at noon Thursday (and gets a prime-time replay at 7 p.m. Friday).
The purebred canine competition is hosted by the Kennel Club of Philadelphia. The competition features more than 2,000 dogs from more than 150 breeds. The show has been a hit for NBC since 2002, when the network made it the annual follow-up to its Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade telecast.
We chatted with O'Hurley about letting his career go to the dogs.
Why do you keep coming back as host ?
I'm a dog-lover. So it's the most enjoyable day of the year, to get to be around all these dogs. Also, I think it's television done well. It's two hours of something that everybody can watch. If you're 5 years old or you're 95 years old, we're providing something on television that is value-driven.
The show is a celebration of the rich history of breeding and of dogs and their presence in our lives.
Who's classier in the heat of competition: a dog show contestant or a Dancing With the Stars celeb?
Dancing With the Stars could take a big hint from the dog show. Because the dogs truly don't care who wins. They're just having a great time. Unfortunately, on Dancing With the Stars, it has become all too competitive, with the personal marketing and the tendency to develop controversies in the show.
For the dogs, it's just a sense of joy, as opposed to a sense of competition.
Are there any particular breeds that might receive favoritism from you as an announcer?
I always love the Irish setters. The auburn hair as it flies into the ring and that perfect gait -- it's one of the most stunning things you can see in a dog show. I'll parallel that with the Afghans.
But I also love the Pekingese for the cute factor. They're the closest to the ground and basically mopping up everything off the floor. But they're also the hardest little workers in the dog show every year.
Do you think you've got what it takes to be a dog show judge?
Well, a couple of years ago, I actually picked the dog that wound up winning. It was the Irish setter. I was so proud. For me, it was like winning at Powerball.
If you were a dog, which breed would you want to be?
I like to think of myself as casually elegant. So I'll go back to the Irish setter. I'd like to be running through the woods, my auburn hair flowing in the breeze. Alas, my hair isn't auburn.
But at least most of my hair is still real!