Has Thanksgiving gone to the dogs?

If John O’Hurley has his way, then you bet!

A lifelong dog lover, the 53-year-old is slated to host the
National Dog Show on NBC on Thanksgiving for the sixth year and it’s only
getting bigger and bigger.

“It’s one of the most successful event that NBC does all year long — anywhere
between 20 and 25 million people will be watching on Thanksgiving day so it’s
become kind of a tradition and an alternative to football,” John tells OK!.
“It’s amazing — what used to be a day of football has now gone back to the
dogs.”

This year, viewers will get a Thanksgiving treat as the Dancing With the Stars
alum will have a very special someone at his side on the program — his
11-month-old son, William.

“I’m doing a whole little opening piece with him in a Dr.
Seuss kind of way, explaining the concepts of the dogs to him, so he’ll be all
through the show,” he says.

That won’t be the first piece of doggie literature young
William will be exposed to. A prolific writer, John has published two books
inspired by his canine friends. The first, It’s Okay to Miss the Bed on the First Jump: And Other Life
Lessons I Learned From Dogs
, was a motivational read
released last year and the second, Before Your Dog Can Eat Your Homework, First You Have to Do
It: Life Lessons From a Wise Old Dog to a Young Boy
, hit shelves earlier this month and serves as a guidebook
for his son written by their 16 1/2-year-old white Maltese Scoshi.

John adamantly clarifies that it was
Scoshi who penned the tome, not he.

“I don’t want to put [OK!] in the same position that Oprah
found herself in with celebrity plagiarism,” John teases. “Let’s make that
clear, I didn’t write it, my dog did.”

Scoshi left secret notes around the O’Hurley home addressed to William,
espousing life lessons “that he totally distrusts I’ll ever be able to teach
him.” In writing, er, transcribing the book, John wanted to keep in line with It’s Okay to Miss the Bed’s
theme of learning everything in life from dogs and figured his son ought to
inherit Scoshi’s wisdom.

“I think dogs teach us extraordinary things, and they have
the power to change the temperament of a human being in an instant and not many
things can do that — no matter how bad your day is, you walk in and you see
your dog and you just smile,” he says.

The family, which includes John’s wife, Lisa Mesloh, has another
dog, Betty, a black lab daschund mix, and the actor says he wasn’t too worried
about William getting along with the dogs.

“I’m more concerned about how he relates to us,” he says. “There will come a
time when he is a little more mobile and gentle.
Right now he can pet the dogs, but he also wants to pull the ears and
also he wants to do an oral exam on the dogs as well. He just wants to put his
finger in everyone’s mouth.”

He might do the same backstage at the dog show, where up to 2,000 hounds will
be backstage carousing about. The sight may be overwhelming for some, but
probably not for William.

“He’s very comfortable being on stage,” John says, adding that he frequently
brings his son on Family Feud, of which he’s the host. “He just loves being on
stage to the point where if I have to continue with the show and I hand him off
to my wife, he doesn’t want to go with her, he wants to stay on stage.”

So does that mean William is set to follow in dad’s showbiz footsteps? Too soon
to tell, the Spamalot star says.

Something he’s less unsure of is having more
kids — one is good enough for the couple. “We did it right once. He’ll be
getting out of diapers just as I’m getting into them, so that’s funny.”

Fatherhood was worth the wait though because it is “the most
incommunicably satisfying thing” he’s ever done.

“I had never known that I had the capacity to love something as deeply as I do,”
John says. “It certainly has deepened my life and changed my life in so many
aspects. As much as I love that little kid, I am also much less tolerant and
more vigilant about the world around me than I ever was before.”

By Joyce Eng

Sound off in the comments below!

Join the conversation