KLG and Hoda

Kathie Lee: Why I named my dog Regis

Oct. 4, 2013 at 4:16 PM ET

Kathie Lee Gifford
TODAY

We know all about Bambino, Kathie Lee’s beloved Maltipoo. But long before he and several other pooches joined the Gifford household, a sweet mutt named after KLG’s close friend and former “Live!” co-host, Regis Philbin, served as her trusted companion.

Kathie Lee explains why she named the dog Regis in the upcoming essay compilation, “No Better Friend: Celebrities and the Dogs They Love.” An excerpt from KLG's essay was released online Friday by Parade Magazine.

Kathie Lee recalled how Regis used to hound her relentlessly during each of her two pregnancies to name each child Regis. She didn’t, of course.

“Cody and Cassidy — what is that? Some freakin’ Wild West Show?” KLG remembered him exclaiming.

Finally, KLG asked Regis whether he would get off her back if she got a dog from the pound and named it after him instead.

“I thought he’d be offended by such an offer, but I couldn’t have been more wrong,” she writes — Regis was honored.

“We arranged to play the Doggy Dating Game on our TV show, and three scroungy mutts from a pound in New Jersey came to the studio,” she explains. “I ended up falling hopelessly in love with the puppy that looked like a Labrador/husky/German shepherd mix. He came home to Connecticut with me, we named him Regis Champagne Gifford, and he joined our two kids and two bichon frises, Chardonnay and Chablis, as one of the family.”

Regis, the dog, turned out to be the perfect pet, and spent the next 14 years as part of the family, providing “endless hours of devotion and happiness” until he died from cancer.

“We still miss him, and every time we get together with Regis — the man — he still talks about his furry namesake, and I thank him again for the greatest friend a family could ever have."

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