Share on Facebook

A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

Meet the Adorable Dogs Competing in the American Rescue Dog Show

If you love a good underdog story, you’re in the right place!

1 / 17
american rescue dog showKim Nunneley/Alexx Henry Studios/Courtesy Crown Media

The underdogs who will win your heart

The purebreds at Westminster and the other prestigious dog shows aren’t the only top dogs out there. In fact, we’d venture to say that these underdogs are even more deserving of an award because they overcame some serious obstacles to get where they are now. Let us introduce you to a few of the super cute canines who are competing at this year’s American Rescue Dog Show, which airs on the Hallmark Channel on February 16 and 17.

As you can guess from the name, this show shines the spotlight on rescue dogs—the only national show of its kind to do so. Now in its third year, it features a wide variety of dogs with many different backgrounds and breed combinations, who compete in non-traditional (and pretty awesome) categories like Best in Snoring, Wrinkles, Couch Potato, and Belly Rubs, as well as Senior, Special Needs, and more. Here are some of the inspiring rescue dogs who will be vying for first place…and for your heart.

If this inspires you to adopt a dog of your own, we have some ideas for you: These shelter dogs need forever homes in 2020.

2 / 17
indiana jones indiana bones dog rescue showKim Nunneley/Alexx Henry Studios/Courtesy Crown Media

Indiana Bones

After one of this dog’s future owners became paralyzed, he and his wife began looking for a canine companion. Within minutes of meeting Indy, they fell in love. A contender in the Wiggling category, Indy loves both snow and the beach, and his favorite indoor activity is watching TV. He is especially fond of Game of Thrones. If your pup loves the beach, check out these 12 dog-friendly beaches around the country.

3 / 17
beef the dog. american rescue dog showKim Nunneley/Alexx Henry Studios/Courtesy Crown Media


The reigning Snoring champ from the 2019 American Rescue Dog Show, Beef is back, and this year he’s competing in the Wrinkles category. Adopted as a puppy from a shelter, he sadly ended up in another one ten years later. But this story has a happy ending: He’s now found his forever home, with a group of canine siblings that include a Great Dane and a Golden Retriever. He has a bedroom all to himself because he snores so loud, he’d otherwise wake everyone up! Ever wonder what dogs dream about? We’ve got the answer!

4 / 17
big rid american rescue dog showKim Nunneley/Alexx Henry Studios/Courtesy Crown Media

Big Rig

Surrendered with his brother because their cleft palates disqualified them from being sold by their breeder, Big Rig has never let that condition hold him back. He will try to gobble down anything that even remotely resembles food, and he has several thousand Instagram followers who are rooting for him to earn the title of Best in Wrinkles. Don’t miss these tear-jerking stories of rescue dogs that found the homes they deserve.

5 / 17
waylong dog rescue showKim Nunneley/Alexx Henry Studios/Courtesy Crown Media


He may have been born with a permanently sad-looking expression—like many dogs of the hound variety—but don’t let that fool you. Waylon had a rough start in life, but he’s now happy as could be, so much so that his tail wags nonstop, even in his sleep. (Happiness is just one of the things a dog’s tail can tell you.) This Best in Wrinkles contender can’t resist bacon, and he’s even learned how to open the freezer so he can steal a piece of pork!

6 / 17
marty dog rescue showKim Nunneley/Alexx Henry Studios/Courtesy Crown Media


It’s no big shock that Marty is competing in the Wrinkles division at the 2020 American Rescue Dog Show. The wrinkles on his head even form the shape of a heart! That’s fitting because he loves—and is loved by—everyone. His favorite outing is heading to the dog beach, and he is most content when he’s snuggling with his favorite toy, a stuffed baby Pug. Watch for these telltale signs that your dog is happy.

7 / 17
ravioli dog american rescue dog showKim Nunneley/Alexx Henry Studios/Courtesy Crown Media


Turning heads wherever he goes, Ravioli doesn’t let a little thing like an underbite bring him down. In fact, that signature smile is what got him into this competition, since he’ll be vying for Best in Underbite this year. The combination of his underbite and his funky mohawk makes for a distinctive look that draws lots of attention, with amused strangers often commenting that he looks like a hyena. He hates to sleep alone, but he absolutely loves the hair dryer that helps to create his showstopping look.

8 / 17
dolly dog american rescue dog showKim Nunneley/Alexx Henry Studios/Courtesy Crown Media


Originally from Korea, Dolly—who is deaf—was headed to a grim end after suffering an injury that required surgery her owners didn’t want to pay for. But that’s not all: Those owners had even sold her to a meat market. Luckily, a rescue group stepped in and brought Dolly to the United States, where she found her current owner, who offered the love and patience Dolly desperately needed. They also gave her cardboard boxes and pajamas—two of her favorite things! In return, she gives them (and pretty much everyone else she meets) lots of doggy kisses. This beauty will be competing in the Special Needs category at the American Rescue Dog Show. This is what animal shelters desperately need right now to help all of their dogs, including ones like Dolly.

9 / 17
champion dog American Rescue Dog showKim Nunneley/Alexx Henry Studios/Courtesy Crown Media


Going head-to-head with Dolly at the American Rescue Dog Show this year is Champion. Originally rescued along with dozens of other animals in Arizona, he was only up for adoption for five minutes when he captured the hearts of the adopters who became his forever family. Champion is known as a “tripod” since he only has three legs, but that doesn’t slow him down. He loves to run and play with tennis balls, and he’s joined his family on several camping trips.

10 / 17
helen keller dog american rescue dog showKim Nunneley/Alexx Henry Studios/Courtesy Crown Media

Helen Keller

Like her namesake, this sweet girl is deaf and blind. That made her the perfect fit for her adopters, who are also deaf. The trio have a special bond, communicating through touch-based sign language. She relies on her sense of smell to check out a new place and loves outdoor activities like kayaking and hiking. Don’t miss these 13 things shelter dogs wish you knew.

11 / 17
charlie baxter dogCourtesy @chasingcharliebaxter

Charlie Baxter

Like the canine version of a teddy bear, this little guy is cuteness to the extreme. One look at his picture and it’ll be no surprise that he’s competing in the Ears category at this year’s American Rescue Dog Show. His new mom—who loves what she calls his “Chewbacca ears”—was determined to make him a part of her family, even though several other prospective adopters had also expressed interest. She didn’t give up, visiting Charlie Baxter at the shelter daily until he was able to come home with her, where the two love to cuddle and watch TV. (Charlie likes to bark at any dogs he spots on the screen.)

12 / 17
balonee rescue dog show Courtesy Amy Huzil


This lovable ball of fur enjoys spending the day with his mom at work, but he just may be happiest when going on therapy visits to senior citizens. A certified therapy dog since 2016, he has done more than 750 therapy visits. And he’s perfect for the job: Balonee is a senior himself, and he, of course, knows what it’s like to be alone. He has one blue eye and one brown eye, and he loves munching on Cheerios. This year, he’s competing in—you guessed it—the Senior category at the big show. Balonee was adopted just this year, and the same is true for all of the other dogs competing in the Senior category. Talk about a fairy-tale ending! Senior pets still have a lot of love to give, and that’s just one of the reasons you should consider adopting an older dog.

13 / 17
turtle dog american rescue dog showKim Nunneley/Alexx Henry Studios/Courtesy Crown Media


Watch out, Balonee—this adorable dog is also a contender in the Senior category. Rescued from a hoarding situation with more than 100 other dogs, Turtle is now living his best life, thanks to his adoptive mom. He loves letting the wind whip through his hair as he rides in a convertible, and he has his choice of five different dog beds at home. Speaking of which, these are the best dog beds for every type of dog.

14 / 17
maia dog rescue showKim Nunneley/Alexx Henry Studios/Courtesy Crown Media


Found abandoned and unable to walk in a California orchard four years ago, Maia seemed to have the odds stacked against her. Thankfully, a rescue got her the surgery she needed, and now she gets around with a set of wheels—when she isn’t enjoying a swim or skiing. (Yes, you read that right!) She loves squeaky toys and French fries. Check out these hilarious photos of dogs acting like people.

15 / 17
ritchie the dog Kim Nunneley/ Alexx Henry Studios/Courtesy Crown Media


Abandoned by his former owners at a shelter without the wheels he needed to get around, Ritchie’s faith in humans was restored when a group of kindhearted supporters raised money to him get him a new set of wheels. His foster mom quickly fell in love with him, and she soon made Ritchie a permanent part of her family. Fun fact: When you make a whooshing sound while Ritchie is rolling, he’ll go even faster. That just may be what it takes to put him in the lead in the Special Needs category at the American Rescue Dog Show. Go, Ritchie, go!

16 / 17
abby american rescue dog showCourtesy Sunny Saints Saint Bernard Rescue


Her favorite activity is sleeping, so it’s not a huge stretch for Abby to compete in the Couch Potato category. Surrendered to the shelter after her family’s home went into foreclosure, Abby is now an ambassador for the rescue group that helped save her. She is wild about bananas and would actually pick a banana over a piece of prime rib any day. She doesn’t play with toys often, but she loves belly rubs and, of course, napping. In case you were wondering, these human foods are actually good for your dog.

17 / 17
clyde dog american rescue dog showKim Nunneley/Alexx Henry Studios/Courtesy Crown Media


This gentle giant found himself at a shelter with another large dog with whom he was bonded. Many adopters were leery of taking in two large dogs, but one special couple wanted them both and named the pair Bonnie and Clyde. A certified therapy dog and “the sweetest and most compassionate dog” you’ll ever meet, according to his owners, Clyde loves volunteering at a children’s hospital and has visited more than 10,000 patients. We’re sure those kids will be cheering him on to win in the Belly Rubs category. And hey, you never know—Clyde just may join the ranks of these other shelter dogs who got famous.

Bobbi Dempsey
Bobbi Dempsey is a freelance writer, editor and content specialist whose credits include NY Times, Forbes, Family Circle, Good Housekeeping and many others. She has written both consumer-facing and B2B content for numerous companies in the technology, healthcare, education, and personal finance industries.