The American Rescue Dog Show: The Best Dog Show You’ve Ever Seen

This is not your usual dog show. Find out what makes the American Rescue Dog Show so special — plus, how to find it on TV.

Jackie, an 11-year-old black Lab, was named Best in Rescue at the American Rescue Dog Show in 2018. Video still via Hallmark Channel

In February 2018, the Hallmark Channel put on the first-ever American Rescue Dog Show, a competition for — you guessed it — rescue dogs.

This is not your usual breed-standard show with purebred canines being physically examined by a judge and run in circles across the stage.

Instead, the show includes 10 categories of some of the things we love most about our canine friends.

American Rescue Dog Show

The rescue dogs compete in the following categories:

  1. Best in Couch Potato
  2. Best in Fetching
  3. Best in Kissing
  4. Best in Listening
  5. Best in Senior
  6. Best in Snoring
  7. Best in Special Needs
  8. Best in Talking
  9. Best Underbite
  10. Best Wiggle Butt

Each category has 5 finalists who make it to the stage to strut their stuff.

While I have to admit I’m partial to a wiggle butt, my favorite category to watch has to be the couch potatoes. The team brings out 5 couches, 1 for each finalist, and the dogs in this category get to demonstrate their stellar couch-hogging skills.

The 2018 winner, a Saint Bernard named Lazarus, wasted no time relaxing with ease as though he were sitting in his own living room and not in front of an audience of strangers.

Lazarus is a gentle giant who, when he’s not lazing on the couch, enjoys going for car rides and meeting people on walks around his neighborhood, particularly kids and other dogs.

At 174 pounds, Lazarus loves to play with his toys like a puppy, but his favorite activity? Napping! Photo: Hallmark Channel

My Favorite Dog at the American Rescue Dog Show

As charming as Lazarus was, I think my favorite category winner of the 2018 American Rescue Dog Show was Charlie, a Dalmatian mix who won the Best in Special Needs category.

Charlie is deaf and had been in 4 different homes before his forever human finally adopted him. What makes Charlie so special? He now knows 52 commands in American Sign Language.

Charlie struggled to learn in his previous homes because he can’t hear, which made training difficult, but he’s incredibly smart. Finally finding a person who refused to give up on him, he was able to overcome his hearing obstacles.

Charlie went on to become a therapy dog, and his human says one of his favorite signs is “I love you,” and his favorite activity is to run along the beach with a group of his canine pals.

Charlie, now a hospital therapy dog, is deaf and lived in 4 homes before he was surrendered to the shelter as “uncontrollable.” Photo: Hallmark Channel

American Rescue Dog Show Prizes

So what do the winners of the American Rescue Dog Show get besides ultimate recognition?

Charlie, Lazarus and the other category winners in 2018 each earned a $5,000 donation to the rescue group that rescued them. The grand prize, Best in Rescue Champion of all the categories, receives a whopping $25,000 to their rescue.

And who won this incredible grand prize in 2018? That would be the Best in Senior winner, an 11-year-old black Labrador Retriever named Jackie.

Jackie was 10 years old when she was dropped off at the shelter and was rescued by her family only hours before she was scheduled for euthanasia.

Jackie now lives with her family and 3 other rescue dogs, and her favorite things to do are snuggle on the bed and go swimming. In fact, despite her age, her family says Jackie will spend hours swimming in the pool and catching the ball, no matter how tired she is.

Check out what the American Rescue Dog Show is all about:

YouTube player

Recognizing the Rescuers at the American Rescue Dog Show

Of course, it wouldn’t be a show about rescues without honoring the heroes of animal rescue: the people who help make it all happen.

The Hallmark Channel dedicates a segment of the American Rescue Dog Show to the hardworking men and women who help find, treat and rehome animals all over the country.

And while this part of the show is likely to make you tear up a little, it’s so important to recognize the hard work thousands of people put in every day to make sure every animal is treated with dignity, care and respect.

And rest assured the majority of the show is sure to bring nothing but smiles, laughter and heartwarming stories of truly great dogs.

If you’re interested in learning more about American Rescue Dog Show, you can check out highlights on the Hallmark Channel’s website, where you’ll also find pictures and biographies of the finalists and the winners.

And good news! The American Rescue Dog Show will return in 2019: Turn to the Hallmark Channel on Sunday, Feb. 17 and Monday, Feb. 18 at 8 p.m.

There are lots of great rescue dogs out there just waiting to have their special talents celebrated.

vet-cross60pThis article was written by a certified veterinary technician, Kristene Carroll, CVT. It was last reviewed June 5, 2018.