The 2013 Hero Dog Awards seeks to find and recognize dogs who help people in many important ways. Dogs are nominated in one of eight categories: Service Dogs, Emerging Hero Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs, Law Enforcement/Arson Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Military Dogs, Guide Dogs and Hearing Dogs.
The Service Dog category includes animals that assist people with disabilities other than sight and hearing. Most have received special training.
The Emerging Hero category honors the partnership that often develops between human and dog. Some of these animals are trained in such areas as detection of diseases such as cancer, while others are just pets who, without any special training, instinctively assist their human companions.
Earlier this year the American Humane Association set out once again to find America’s top hero dogs. Over a million votes were cast online, narrowing the field down from more than 140 nominees to just eight finalists, each a separate category. In the coming weeks, I’ll highlight these eight extraordinary canines. And you will have the opportunity to join others in voting online for your favorite.
Let’s begin with SD Bronx, a Shepherd nominated in the Service Dog category. SD Bronx is trained as a seizure alert and response service dog for his human, Christopher, who suffers from seizures. Having a constant and loyal companion who not only alerts Christopher and others about impending seizures but also helps him cope with his limited vision has changed the teenager’s life. Texas Hearing and Service Dogs is the charity partner for SD Bronx. He is on Facebook as “SD Bronx”.
Cassidy represents the Emerging Hero category. This beautiful Sheltie was found under a pile of garbage beside the highway. He had been hit by a car and was dirty, matted, injured and frightened. His front leg had to be amputated. Sheltie Rescue of Utah helped Cassidy, and found him a new home with Kathy. But that’s not the end of his story. Kathy and Cassidy do presentations to groups to show that animals are not disposable, that everyone, animal and human, has value. Even with a disability, each has something special to offer. As if to reinforce his message, Cassidy will settle into anyone’s arms and remind them that they are loved and accepted. It’s an amazing example of how this dog has overcome adversity and maintained trust and love for humans. Cassidy’s charity partner is Sheltie Rescue of Utah. His Facebook page is “Three Legged Cassidy”.
To learn more about the Hero Dog Awards, and the eight finalists competing for the top spot, visit the website at HeroDogAwards.org. While you’re there, cast your vote for the one you think should be America’s next Hero Dog. It’s a great way to celebrate these special animals who make our lives better in so many ways, when you’re speaking of pets.