In October 2008, Gabe and I were flown to Hollywood as finalists in the Worldwide Fido Awards, an innovative online contest sponsored by Nickelodeon TV. By the time the hour-long TV Special was wrapped, Gabe had been crowned the “2008 Worldwide Fido” and we flew home $15,000 richer!
Host, Fred Willard, announces Gabe the winner of the “Best Trick” category
Watch Gabe’s debut on national TV during the 2008 Worldwide Fido Awards:
Behind the scenes of The Worldwide Fido Awards:
Gabe waves “Bone Voyage” as he prepares to board his flight to “Hollywoof”
The Contest: We were told about this contest by friends on a Bulldog forum that we frequented. People were encouraged to upload videos of their pets in one of six categories on the Worldwide Fido website, where the public could view and vote for their favorites. By the time Gabe’s video was uploaded, the contest had been underway for several weeks, but, as many of our forum friends began to pass the link around and cast their daily votes, his video quickly became a frontrunner.
A screen shot of Gabe’s page during the Worldwide Fido Awards voting phase (*not a live link*):
Whittling Down the Competition: After several months of voting, the nearly 3,000 wild and crazy entries were narrowed down to the top four from each category. Gabe would go nose-to-nose against some of the toughest competition in the contest: Jesse-a very talented and well-trained Jack Russell Terrier, Dazzle-a gung-ho Border Collie, and Petie-a mixed breed with some mean dance moves. During this final month of the contest, vote tallies were removed to keep the element of surprise alive for the TV audience when the show aired in early October 2008.
The TV ad announcing the Semi-Finalists in the “Best Trick” Category:
Hollywood, Here We Come! About a week before the filming of the Fido Awards, we received the call that Gabe had won the vote for the Best Trick Finalist and we began making arrangements for our flight to California. We were told to bring any props along with us as they might be used during the taping, however when they discovered Gabe’s horse, “Ol’ Sliver”, would be “oversized baggage” they told us to forgo packing it up for the trip.
Worldwide Biggies, the sponsor of the awards, was gracious enough to allow my son, Micah, to accompany me–especially fun for him as he’d had a passion for all things Hollywood ever since he was 6 or 7 years old–when he’d saved up his money to purchase his first video camera and began his quest as a filmmaker. Micah, of course, brought his camera along to film some fun “behind the scenes” moments (see “Gabe Goes to HollyWoOF!” below)
Gabe, as the winner of the Best Trick category, was joined by the Best Dressed, Best Voice, Cutest Dog, Most Outrageous and Owner Look-alike finalists.
Fido Finalists L-R:
Cutest Dog: Samson (French Bulldog) , Most Outrageous: Tommy (Labrador Retriever), Best Trick: Gabe (Bulldog), Best Voice: Sunny (Golden Retriever), Owner Look-alike: Kaine (German Shepherd) and Best Dressed: Phoebe (Boxer)
The six finalists and their People were housed at the fancy Le Merigot Hotel in Santa Monica, CA, where they catered to our every need. They had thought of everything, including a fenced Private Potty Garden!…This was The Life!
Gabe relaxes in his private suite prior to the taping of the 2008 Worldwide Fido Awards
Gabe was a hit with the Le Merigot staff, and while we weren’t at liberty to share any details of the filming, they knew they were in the presence of a Star!
On the eve of the Awards taping, Gabe & I, along with my son, Micah, took a whirlwind tour of the classic Hollywood sites, topped off by an impromptu skateboard ride down the Walk of Fame by Gabe! In the brief few minutes Follow Gabe during his adventures in Hollywood for the filming of the 2008 Worldwide Fido Awards in Santa Monica, CA.
This “DOGumentary” was filmed by Micah Knapp of Knapp Brothers Entertainment, my son and filmmaker extraordinaire!
The next morning we reported to Barker Hangar for the Dress Rehearsal in preparation for the hour-long TV special to be filmed before a live audience the following day. We were given our special “Talent” passes and sent to wait in the “Green Room” until time for our curtain call.
Once we settled in we had several hours to get acquainted with the other finalists. It was fun to meet at last after watching their videos and comments on the Worldwide Fido website, and we felt like we were old friends, rather than competitors.
Gabe hangs out with his new pals, Phoebe, Kaine and Jesse.
Along for the trip, was the very talented little Jack Russell Terrier, Jesse, with his owner/trainer Heather Brook, who had been among the four semi-finalists in our Best Trick category. Heather was the sister of Ashley, whose adorable routine with German Shepherd Dog, Kaine, had nabbed them the Owner Lookalike Finalist position.
Gabe and his new little pal, Jesse, take a bow for the camera
On the day of the taping, each of the “Stars” were assigned to their very own trailer on set, where they could hang out, rest, and get ready for their big TV debut. Each dog even had a private “Porch Potty” for answering Nature when she came calling. (Gabe eagerly gave a generous tutorial to his fellow Finalists, who were a bit shy at first in taking advantage of their personal portion of Toiletry Turf!)