5 Things to Know About the National Dog Show
This year's event will feature several novel twists, including the addition of six new breeds, the return of an old hero and a fresh voice behind the microphone. PEOPLE spoke to the show's hosts – actor John O'Hurley, dog expert David Frei and sportscaster Mary Carillo – to get the scoop on what to look for during the broadcast.
1. Rufus returns!
The 9-year-old bull terrier who won the triple crown of U.S. dog competitions – The National Dog Show, the Westminster Dog Show and the Morris & Essex Kennel Club Show – in 2005-06 will be honored at this year's event for his work as a therapy dog. "Rufus was a great show dog, he's a wonderful dog in the community," says Frei, who founded the therapy-dog program Angel on a Leash.
2. Will the judges catch Scarlett fever?
Frei has been keeping an eye on Scarlett – or as she's known by her registered name, Ch. Winfall Brookwood Styled Dream – a boxer who has nearly two dozen best-in-show titles and is ranked among the top 20 dogs in the country of any breed.
3. Sportscaster Mary Carillo joins the team
A new addition to the crew of announcers for this year's broadcast is veteran sports journalist Mary Carillo, who will serve as a sideline reporter and interviewer. Carillo is known primarily for her tennis and Olympics work, but the lifelong dog devotee displayed her canine commentary chops while working alongside Frei on the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show telecasts in 2008.
4. Six new breeds are joining competition
The Boykin spaniel, Leonberger, cane corso, Icelandic sheepdog, bluetick coonhound and redbone coonhound are all throwing their hats, er, bones into the ring for the first time. "We're introducing more breeds than we have cumulatively in the last nine years, I believe," O'Hurley says.
5. Expect the unexpected
Dogs plus lights, camera and a lot of action can lead to some hilarious unscripted moments. "We had a dog a couple years back, one of the smaller breeds, and it was the first time on the show for this particular one," O'Hurley recalls. "At one point he just put the back legs down, and decided he wasn't going to show anymore. His handler had to drag him by his butt out of there."
Tune into NBC at noon ET on Thursday for complete National Dog Show coverage.