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, Guide/Hearing Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs.
A Guide Dog is trained to lead, follow commands, ignore distractions, and even disobey a command that would put its human partner in danger. The human also must be trained on how to handle the dog and how to be a good leader of the team. A Hearing Dog is specially trained to alert its deaf owner to sounds we all take for granted. Unlike a Guide Dog that must be of a certain body size in order to lead a person, a Hearing Dog can be large or small, pure-bred or mixed breed. Many are shelter animals who are determined to have the intelligence and temperament to serve as a Hearing Dog. It is a perfect blending of needs - deaf individuals have the opportunity to live an independent life, and dogs who may literally die for lack of homes are given a purpose and owners that will love and care for them. Guide dogs and hearing dogs are living examples of the trust bond between human and animal.
In the world of Search and Rescue operations, dogs have a very special place. Their keen sense of smell, excellent night vision, extremely sensitive hearing and endurance have made them crucial in efforts to locate people or animals who are missing or trapped. They truly are life savers!
Over the past couple of weeks I have highlighted some of 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, “K-9 Flash” represents the Law Enforcement/Arson category. “Chi Chi” is a Therapy Dog; and “Sgt. Fieldy” is a Military Dog.
The two finalists this week represent the more commonly noticed service dogs.
Frances, a yellow Labrador Retriever, is a Guide Dog for Holly Bonner who became blind six years ago after undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. Then she learned she was pregnant. When asked how she would cope, she said she was going to get a guide dog.
Now Holly and her faithful companion “Franny” are inseparable. Franny even works with Holly to educate kids about blindness and dealing with blind people. Frances’s charity partner is the Guiding Eyes for the Blind.
Ruby is nominated in the Search and Rescue Dogs group. A mixed breed dog, she was adopted and returned to the animal shelter four times because she was so rowdy and unmanageable. A volunteer dog trainer persuaded a state trooper to consider her for the K9 unit.
It took a few months and a lot of hard work, but eventually Ruby responded to her now-stable environment and became a first-class search and rescue dog. In fact, she successfully located a missing teenager who was found in serious condition; he was taken to the hospital where he made a full recovery. The best part? The teen’s mom was the volunteer dog trainer who campaigned for Ruby and saved her life six years ago. Ruby’s charity partner is National Search Dog Alliance.
Learn more about the wonderful animals nominated for the 2018 Hero Dog Award by visiting the website at HeroDogAwards.org. Cast your vote for the finalist you think should be America’s Hero Dog. Whether saving a life or just enriching one, these four-legged heroes deserve our gratitude, when we’re speaking of pets.