David Frei’s recollection of his first dog is no sepia-toned boy-and-his-dog story. Quite the contrary, in fact.
The analyst on NBC’s coverage of The National Dog Show, airing Thursday, Nov. 26, after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, did not grow up with a dog and didn’t have one until he was 20 and living off campus at the University of Oregon in the late 1960s. And it took an offer he couldn’t refuse to get one.
“My girlfriend said, ‘Let’s get a dog,’ ” he recalls. “And … I’m gonna do whatever the girlfriend wants, of course. And I said, ‘OK, what kind of dog?’ And she says, ‘I want an Afghan Hound.’ Well, I don’t even know what that is. But we got the Afghan Hound and three weeks later the girl moved out and the dog stayed. And it was the best thing that could have happened to all three of us.”
For Frei, it became a lifelong pursuit as a dog owner, breeder and handler of Afghans, licensed judge with the American Kennel Club, communications director with the Westminster Kennel Club and author of two dog-related books – “The Angel by My Side” and “Angel on a Leash.”
He also has a football background. He worked in public relations for the Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers and ABC Sports on Monday Night Football and his father Jerry was the head football coach at his alma mater of Oregon. Both pursuits, he says, are still in his blood as he’s a Seattle Seahawks fan.
“I grew up selling ice cream bars at (Oregon’s) Hayward Field and being the ball boy for the football games,” he says. “I always say I thought my career path was paved with Astroturf and now I have found that it’s paved with wee-wee pads. So I’m a dog guy but I’m still a football guy.”
Name: David Frei
Birth date: April 4, 1949
Birthplace: Portland, Ore.
Family ties: He and wife Cherilyn live in Cannon Beach, Ore., with two dogs – Grace, an 11-year-old Brittany Spaniel, and True Dat, a 10-month-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Alma mater: University of Oregon
Military service: Was a veterinary technician for the U.S. Army at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., from 1971 to 1974
TV credits include: Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (1995-2010); World Dog Show (1999); National Dog Show (2002-present); Beverly Hills Dog Show (2019-present)
Philanthropy: His dogs have served as therapy dogs at Ronald McDonald House, New York’s VA Medical Center and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York; created Angel on a Leash, which advocates for therapy dog programs