MANVILLE: Manville woman walks red carpet with Rin Tin Tin

As star dog’s handler, she accompanies him to Hero Dogs award show

By Mary Ellen Zangara, Special Writer
    Manville resident Lorraine Zdeb had the thrill of a lifetime as she had the honor to walk the red carpet in Hollywood with the favorite childhood dog, Rin Tin Tin.
    Ms. Zdeb accompanied Rin Tin Tin to the first American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards. Ms. Zdeb has worked with Daphne Hereford, Rin Tin Tin’s pet-sitter, since 1997 and has been helping her with the dog.
    The Hero Dog Awards ceremony was taped before a live audience Oct. 1 in the Beverly Hilton’s International Ballroom. The awards paid tribute to eight dogs and their handlers and will be aired tomorrow night, Nov. 11, Veterans Day, at 7 p.m. on the Hallmark Channel.
    Following its premiere on TV and in salute of Veterans Day honoring the enlisted servicemen, women and dogs overseas, the awards show will be broadcast for the troops worldwide through Armed Forces Network.
    After a nationwide online search that elicited 400,000 votes, dogs were nominated in eight categories: law enforcement and arson dogs; service dogs; therapy dogs; military dogs; guide dogs; search and rescue dogs; hearing dogs; and emerging hero dogs, a category that includes ordinary pets who do extraordinary things.
    The finalists and their handlers were flown to Los Angeles where they walked the red carpet, mingled with celebrities and took the stage to accept their special Hero Dog Award following a special video tribute telling each of their incredible stories.
    Ms. Zdeb dressed up in the fancy attire, and for her, that was a big deal.
    “It was hard getting ready as I am a sneakers-and-jeans person,” she said. “To have red nail polish on was a big step for me. I will do anything for the dogs.”
    She added, “It was a whole different society, but for them to be there for their love of animals, they all put that first, which was kind of cool.”
According to the news release, the Hero Dog Awards are presented by Cesar Canine Cuisine, was produced by Emmy Award-winning MRB Productions and hosted by Emmy Award-winning Carson Kressley.
    Whoopi Goldberg, winner of Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy awards and the celebrity judge for American Humane Association’s Hero Dog Awards was joined by Victoria Stilwell, star of Animal Planet’s TV series, “It’s Me or the Dog.”
    There was a performance by singing NYPD policeman Daniel Rodriguez, whose rendition of “God Bless America” stirred hearts after 9/11, and special guest Rin Tin Tin, the national spokesdog for American Humane Association’s Red Star Animal Emergency Services. Other celebrities at the awards included Betty White, Peter Fonda, Faith Ford, Pauley Perrette, Michael Vartan, Jason Lewis, Candy Spelling, Victoria Stillwell and Joey Lawrence as celebrity judges and presenters.
    The awards show itself was memorable for Ms. Zdeb.
    “I have never seen a show where they got it all right and they honored the animals in such a way,” she said. “That was such a tearjerker, and they really explained the human-animal bond. We are so proud to be associated with them.”
    She said her mission is “to carry on the legacy of the ýPage=011 Column=004 OK,0010.04þ
dogs and what they stand for.”
    “As I child and watching him on TV, like Lassie, who would have imagined to come full circle and to be here and walking the red carpet with the dogs I have always dreamed of?” she said. “It is an honor. We all volunteer our services, and we don’t get paid for any of this. It is coming from the heart.”
    At the end of the presentation, one dog was named the overall American Hero Dog.
    Rin Tin Tin was presented the legacy award by Ms. Stillwell.
    “Mickey Rooney did a hysterical clip on Rin Tin Tin — it was so funny — and Carson Kressley narrated the whole thing,” Ms. Zdeb said. “It was so heartwarming. I have never seen anything so heartwarming and comical.”
    One of the comical parts of the show, according to Ms. Zdeb, was when Betty White was announcing an award recipient, and she told the audience she could not see the words on the teleprompter.
    When the award recipient came on stage to accept the award, he was being led by his guide dog. As he spoke to the audience, he told Ms. White her glitch was OK because he couldn’t see the teleprompter either.
    “We just roared. It was stuff like that and to sit there in awe,” Ms. Zdeb said.
    Ms. Zdeb said she felt the show “is going to be the beginning of the Emmy awards for dogs. This is it. They already have a date in the Beverly Hills Hilton set up for next year. You have all these stars coming out supporting all the hard work that the dogs did.”
    Ms. Zdeb also accompanied Rin Tin Tin to the 10th anniversary Tribute to the Hero Dogs of 9/11 in New York in September where she first met Whoopi Goldberg.
    Ms. Zdeb said there is one part on tomorrow night’s show where she advises everyone to “bring the tissues because there are moments in there that it is hard to hold back.”