An awards show honoring a local hero dog for his efforts in locating a hunter on Blair Mountain will be aired tonight.
Soot, an 8-year-old black Labrador retriever from Big Chimney, was named Search and Rescue Hero Dog of the Year earlier this year after receiving the most votes in the American Humane Association's online contest. Soot was honored in October in a star-studded ceremony in Beverly Hills, Calif.
The dog flew with his owner/handler, Lorrie Burdette, 54, from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles for the awards show in October. Burdette, who was accompanied on the trip by her husband, Randy, said Soot received star treatment when they arrived at Pittsburgh International Airport.
"I guess they knew we were coming because they treated him like a movie star," Burdette said. "It was all 'Oh there he is,' and 'There's our boy.' "
They flew Jet Blue, and Soot, who weighs about 90 pounds, was permitted to sit up front with Burdette and her husband. She said flight attendants gave Soot a pillow and blanket, which he used when lying on the floor. He slept for most of the flight but would stir when other passengers stopped by to visit.
"Everybody had to come by and pet him," Burdette said. "He was in hog heaven. He just loved the attention."
At the Beverly Hilton Hotel, Soot was the center of attention. She said the other dog owners played with Soot and he was friendly to all.
At the awards show, hosted by starlet Kristen Chenowith with special guest and animal rights activist Betty White, dogs from eight categories were honored. Those categories are search and rescue, law enforcement and arson, military, service, therapy, hearing, guide and emerging hero.
White met with each of the dogs and their handlers, Burdette said.