Awards Show Goes to the Dogs

London rolls out the red carpet for canine stars vying for new film awards.

LONDON, Oct. 22, 2007 — -- First there was the Oscars, then the Golden Globes, and now, it's time for the Fido Awards.

A newcomer to the awards season, the Fidos -- an attempt to recognize canine contributions to film -- will make its debut as part of the London Film Festival Oct. 28. The rules for nomination are simple: consistency of performance, charismatic on-screen presence, and … the ability to bark on cue.

The awards are the brainchild of Toby Rose, previously the creator of the Palm Dog Award, which is part of the Cannes Film Festival.

In an interview with ABC News, Rose said the reasons behind the Fidos were simple.

"Dogs are key, pivotal characters on the big screen, but they never get any recognition for their work," he explained.

Apparently, a bone or two just doesn't cut it with today's canine superstars.

The Nominees

The front-runners at this year's Fidos are no less than companions to "The Queen" herself.

The five corgis who performed alongside Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren in last year's box office smash "The Queen" are reported to be shoo-ins for the "Historical Hound" Fido category.

ABC News tracked down their owner, Liz Smith, at her home in Little Blakenham, England, and asked her how it felt to be living with no fewer than five celebrities under her roof.

"It's amazing," she said."News of this award nomination came right out of the blue. In fact, I can hardly speak, I am so excited!"

Along with the five corgis -- Alice, Poppy, Megan, Anna and Oliver -- nominated for Fidos, Smith also owns five other dogs who make appearances at various dog shows across the U.K.

After the success of "The Queen" -- only their second movie -- she hopes "to feature them in more films."

"The award is a lovely idea," she enthused, adding, "it will motivate them to work harder."

There was a lot of work involved in their performance, Smith told ABC News. "No one was allowed to make a fuss of them because we had to make sure they had no distractions," she said.

Despite all the work, however, the corgis enjoyed their stint on camera. According to Smith, the dogs "got on very well" with their on-screen queen, Mirren.

In an interview with Britain's Observer newspaper, Mirren herself said that she "loved those corgis because they were funny. I can understand why the queen has them. Forget winning an Oscar, I'd be more proud of an award for dog handling."

Pets Fit for a Queen

Mirren's real-life counterpart, Queen Elizabeth II, is well-known for her love of corgis.

She is said to have owned more than 30 corgis during her lifetime, beginning with Susan, a corgi who was given to her as an 18th birthday present in 1944.

The queen even introduced a new breed of dog, called a "dorgi," when one of her corgis was mated with a dachshund belonging to her sister, Princess Margaret.

And the death of one of her corgis in 2003 after being attacked by a bull terrier belonging to her daughter, Princess Anne, made headlines across the U.K., when the queen was said to have been devastated by the loss of her pet.

"The queen has popularized corgis and corgis have popularized 'The Queen!'" Rose said.

Canine Advocates Approve

Other films nominated for this year's debut Fidos include "The Holiday," "Year of the Dog" and this week's U.K. release "Control" in categories such as Comedy Canine, Blockbuster Bowser and the aforementioned Historical Hound.

News of the event has been greeted with enthusiasm by dog-welfare advocates in the U.K.

Speaking to ABC News, Sarah Wilde, public relations manager of the Kennel Club, a nonprofit organization dedicated to dogs, said she supports the idea.

"Dogs play such an important role in our lives and in the film industry," Wilde said.

Furthermore, in founder Rose's eyes, "dogs bring a sense of decency to the screen."

And, most important, as he put it, "they are useful plot devices, often bringing couples together in romantic comedies."

Doggie Divas

Now that these supporting performers are due to receive their own share of the limelight, can we expect these pooches to turn into prima donnas, desiring Louis Vuitton and Chanel dog collars and refusing to get out of their kennels for anything less than $10,000?

Not likely, according to Wilde.

"I don't think the nominated dogs are going to be aware of the award," she said, "but they will certainly enjoy the attention. That said, they are probably not thinking they are the next Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie!"

Some canine stars, however, might start to think otherwise, after the world's first "Dog Walk of Fame" opens in London Nov. 5.

Six lucky "pooch legends" are set to receive plaques commemorating their work.

The current short list of 15 nominees includes such well known characters as Lassie from the Lassie films, Toto from "The Wizard of Oz," Fang from the Harry Potter movies, and "Hooch of Turner & Hooch" fame.

The six winners will be chosen by popular vote, before the plaques are unveiled in London's Battersea Park in November. It is not known yet if any of the canine stars will be making public appearances to commemorate the event.

For those seeking to rub noses with celebrity pooches though, tickets to Sunday night's Fido awards are still available on the London Film Festival's Web site. Interested parties would do well to take along a pooper scooper to this red carpet.