The 2018 Hero Dog Awards seek to find and recognize dogs who help people in many important ways. Dogs are nominated in one of seven categories: Service Dogs, Emerging Hero Dogs, Law Enforcement/Arson Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Military Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs, Guide/Hearing Dogs.
Interacting with an animal can be very theraputic for humans. While other animals can be great therapy animals, dogs really excel in helping humans who are going through a difficult or troubling time. A certified Therapy Dog can make a significant contribution to many treatment programs.
Dogs began helping our military forces as early as World War I, but it wasn't until World War II that the Army established its first K-9 Corps. They serve as scouts, detection specialists for explosives, and assist on guard duty to protect US service men and women around the world. Nowadays, dogs have their own military service records and can be awarded commendations for outstanding service. It is not possible to count the number of lives military dogs have saved, sometimes at the extreme cost of their own. The Military Dog category seeks to recognize the dedication and valor of these extraordinary animals.
Last week I highlighted two dogs that are among the seven finalists for this year’s Hero Dog Award, sponsored by the American Humane Association. “Roxy the PTSD Service Dog” was nominated in the Service Dog Category, and “K-9 Flash” represents the Law Enforcement/Arson category.
An amazing Golden Retriever named Chi Chi is nominated in the Therapy Dog Category. In 2016 she was discovered in South Korea in a garbage bag, with her legs bound so tightly that the only way to save her life was to amputate her feet.
Between the animals workers who found her, and the Arizona family who adopted her, Chi Chi not only survived, she blossomed. Fitted with custom prosthetics on all four legs, she learned to walk and run and trust and love. In fact, she has such an easy-going temperament, she is now a certified therapy dog. Her inspiring story, her “dogged” determination and her joyful attitude encourage the people she meets at hospitals and rehab facilities, giving them hope to overcome whatever obstacles they are facing. She’s also great with the elementary school students who read to her to improve their skills.
Sgt. Fieldy, an eleven-year-old black Labrador Retriever, is nominated in the Military Dog Category. He served four tours in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2014 as a bomb-detecting dog, uncovering numerous explosive devices and IEDs and saving countless lives. After his last tour, his first handler in the military adopted him, with the help of the American Humane Association.
You can find out more about the Hero Dog Awards and this year’s finalists by visiting the website at HeroDogAwards.org. And cast your vote for the finalist you think should be America’s Hero Dog, because some heroes have four legs, when we’re speaking of pets.