Kristi Schiller is one tough cookie. So when she was asked to appear on the popular nationally-syndicated Steve Harvey Show to be honored for founding the K9s4COPS non-profit organization that provides trained police dogs for law enforcement agencies, she didn't expect to dissolve into a blubbery mess.
But Harvey pulled a big surprise, which will be shown Thursday on Channel 26 at 3 p.m. and Channel 20 at 4 p.m., causing Houston's flashiest philanthropist to lose it on national TV. Spoiler alert: Read no further if you want to wait and be surprised while watching the show.
As Schiller tells friends, she was concerned that the show's producers showed no interest in showcasing any of the canines with officers or highlighting Ted Dahlin, the Harris County deputy constable who inspired Schiller to found K9s4COPS in 2010. (She was spurred to action after watching a TV report in which the grief-stricken Dahlin explained he had lost his K9 partner during a struggle with a suspect and there wasn’t enough money to give the officer a replacement pup.)
Schiller pleaded with producers to share the "Harvey's Heroes" segment with those who really deserved it. She even promised to bring a canine onto the set and name it for the talk show host if others could be included in the segment. But her pleas were rebuffed.
She admittedly was not a happy camper on the day the show was taped in Chicago and her mood continued to darken when she wasn't allowed to go to the bathroom located 15 feet from the green room without an escort.
Once the show began, however, she found out why there had been so much secrecy. During the segment, Dahlin and an army of K9s4COPS handlers and their gifted dogs appeared on stage to surprise Schiller.
She recalls that she burst into full blown tears — "crying like Miss America —without the talent. Most of these officers I had never met. These men and their families and their gifted K9s had driven from Iowa, Kentucky, Indiana, Virginia, Missouri, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Minnesota and of course Texas! I could not believe this had been planned all along!"
(Since it was founded in 2010, the organization has given 89 canines to 53 law enforcement agencies and seven schools in 19 states. K9s4COPS dogs have sniffed out more than $60 million in narcotics and contraband.)
She grabbed Harvey and shouted, "This is Ted I told you about — he is the reason I started K9s4COPS — we are like family now.” She recalls that the host gave her a "You are having a blonde moment" look. "Either that or I was crying on his expensive suit," she recalled.
In any event, it was an experience she will never forget.