News Item | PAWS Chicago

LOVE on the “Today Show”

by Patty Donmoyer | May 01, 2013

Hoda Kotb Adopts PAWS Chicago Homeless Pup

True love finally made its way to reality TV. On Wednesday March 27, “Today Show” co-host Hoda Kotb televised her search for the perfect lifelong companion and found her match in an adorable five-month-old cockapoo from PAWS Chicago. 

As is often true in the quest for a life companion, preconceived notions of aesthetic or personality preferences don’t mean much when faced with a real connection. “It was not a dog I thought I was going to select,” said Kotb. 

In the weeks before the, “Today Show” producers coordinated with PAWS Chicago and Petfinder to select a variety of 10 dogs for Kotb to meet in a Central Park introduction. “The six dogs that we brought to New York all came to PAWS Chicago in a two-week period from Chicago’s city pound, which shows how many wonderful pets come into shelters every day,” said PAWS Chicago founder Paula Fasseas. 

The ten lucky pooches lined up in New York’s Central Park on Tuesday March 26, a brisk spring afternoon. “This is a life changing day for me, I am going to choose my dog,” said Kotb. “I’m trying to think when I was in this good of a mood.” When asked what she was looking for, she replied, “I’m looking for a dog that likes to sleep. I kind of want a blobby dog. I don’t want a runner.” 

One by one, co-host Kathie Lee Gifford walked each dog out and introduced the contender to Kotb, seated on a bench. “For a long time, she’s wanted a dog,” said Gifford. Kotb spent quality time with them to determine who would be the perfect fit for her lifestyle. 

After the initial introductions, Gifford and Kotb sat on the bench together holding four of the homeless pups. “I think this is going to be an extremely tough decision,” said Kotb. Gifford replied, “If you’re lucky, they’ll be with you for a long, long time and will be the best friend you ever had.”

Following the filming, Fasseas encouraged Kotb to choose her favorite three and spend one-on-one time with each of them to be sure she was selecting the right pooch. Kotb loved the idea of quiet time with the dogs and chose to have Kevin, a one-year-old peppy Havanese mix, Reeves, a mellow, loving six-month-old Shitzu-Maltese mix, and Goldfish, an excited and curious fivemonth-old Cockapoo join her for a little one-on-one time at her home. All three were homeless pups from PAWS Chicago. 

Kotb reported back on her “master dates,” as she called them. Kevin was so energetic, he kept charging the mirror, thinking it was another dog,” Kotb said as she laughed about his effusive energy. Reeves was the perfect lap companion, not venturing far from Kotb during the visit. But it was Goldfish that won the day. “There was an immediate connection,” Kotb said.

Kotb kept her final choice a secret until the big reveal on the show the next day. “Today is finally the day that I am getting a dog! I am totally busting because this is one of the decisions you make in your life that is huge,” Kotb said on air. “Every single dog we looked at were rescues. They came from PAWS Chicago and from Petfinder—great organizations. They were found near housing projects, they were abandoned. All ten of these dogs are great dogs.” Gifford added an appeal to viewers, “We’ll give everyone else an opportunity to adopt the others if they fall in love today.” 

Kotb and Gifford invited Fasseas on camera to introduce the 10 dogs, who were lined up in the studio. “So many amazing dogs! How can you make your choice, Hoda woman?” Gifford asked.

“What I realized is when you know, you know,” Kotb replied. “It was not a dog I thought I was going to select. Honestly, I didn’t. Knowing me, what kind of dog did you think would be best for me?” Kotb asked Fasseas. 

“Any of these dogs would succeed in your home because you love animals and dogs are so adaptable,” Fasseas said. “Get a good trainer. Get a good dogwalker. Because you have a busy lifestyle, being prepared so when you bring them to your house you’re good to go.” 

Kotb walked down the line of pets, saying hello to each one—stopping only when she arrived at Goldfish, the black Cockapoo with white markings who won Hoda’s heart.

PAWS Chicago rescued Goldfish from the city pound after he was found as a stray on the streets of Chicago. Thousands of homeless pets are euthanized in Chicago each year. Fasseas is thrilled that Hoda decided to make her decision to adopt part of her show. “When public figures and celebrities adopt and draw attention to the tragic reality that so many wonderful homeless animals are killed every year, it brings the importance of adoption to the public’s attention and saves thousands of lives,” said Fasseas. “Since the segment aired, the phones at PAWS Chicago have been ringing non-stop with people wanting to adopt.”


With a Little Help from Some Friends

Hoda promised to reveal her new PAWS Chicago rescue pup’s name on Thursday March 27. “Last night it was a big deal in our house. We sat around and tried to come up with names,” said Kotb. She aired a home video, debating the value of names with her niece, Hannah. 

“Blake,” Hannah suggested. “We can’t do Blake,” said Hoda. 

Hannah went on to suggest Ninja, Coca Cola, Cole, Mack, Boom Boom, Coco Puff, and Charlie. “That’s the name of a stripper,” Gifford said after hearing the name Boom Boom. 

To decide, Hanna and Hoda put five names in a hat and the winner was Charlie. But Gifford had a surprise in store. “There’s someone on the phone who is incredibly disappointed, Hoda Woman. Good morning Blake.” 

“You didn’t name your dog after me? I can’t accept this,” said country music star Blake Shelton through speaker phone. 

Hoda was shocked, laughing: “Wait a second, it’s only been named for 30 seconds. We can unring this bell. Do you want me to name the dog Blake?” 

“I do because Charlie sucks,” said Shelton. “Since we have the kiss from Blake Shelton, we are going to officially name the dog Blake,” said Kotb. “I wanted that name, but everyone said you can’t do it. It’s a little freaky. They said I was becoming a little stalkerish.” 

“And I’m perfectly comfortable with that,” said Shelton. “I saw a picture of Blake and you did good—that’s a good looking dog you got there,” he continued. 

Hoda was elated: “This just totally escalated into the best day ever, again!” 

“We don’t want any emails about how Hoda’s now going to be sleeping with Blake,” said Gifford. 

Congratulations Hoda and Blake!