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John O'Hurley talks national dog show

Actor John O'Hurley, famous for his role as J. Peterman on "Seinfeld," remembers the first words when NBC called to ask whether he wanted to host a televised version of The National Dog Show.

"Woof! Woof! That's how they started the conversation," said O'Hurley, who has been acting for 30 years. "I always listen to opportunities, and my imagination was telling me to do this."

Ten years later, O'Hurley is still here hosting the TV show, presented by Purina, as 2,000 of the nation's canines from more than 170 breeds compete for top honors in Philadelphia on Thanskgiving.

The televised show, broadcast from noon to 2 p.m. ET, is the brainchild of Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports.

"He took home a copy of the cult movie 'Best in Show,' and thought it would be a great idea for a TV show between the parade and before football," O'Hurley said. "He was almost laughed out of the office. But on the Tuesday morning after, I got the call."

The dog show itself has been around since 1843, but the TV broadcast has sent its popularity into the stratosphere. It's the world's most-watched dog show, drawing nearly 20 million viewers each year.

"It also has brought so many wonderful things to my life," O'Hurley said. "I got my dogs -- a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a little Havanese -- through breeders I met there. And I've written two best-selling books on dogs."

O'Hurley said dogs are special to people because "they make us all better."

"When a dog is in the room, you're always on your best behavior," O'Hurley said. "They round off our edges. They bring stillness to us. They are very calming. They actually change our chemistry."