The 2014 Hero Dog Awards seek 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, Law Enforcement Dogs, Arson Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Military Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs, and Guide/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 a hundred nominees to just eight finalists, each a separate category. For the next few weeks, I’ll highlight these eight extraordinary canines. And you will have the opportunity to join others in voting online for your favorite to be named Hero Dog of the Year.
Let’s begin with JJ Krawczyk, a former shelter dog nominated in the Service Dog category. JJ is trained as an alert dog for Kaelyn, a child who suffers from a rare disorder that causes her to have severe allergic reactions to things around her. In fact, when Kaelyn needed a surgical procedure last year, the doctors invited JJ into the operating room to help monitor their young patient’s status. Freedom Service Dogs is the charity partner for JJ Krawczyk.
Xena the Warrior Puppy represents the Emerging Hero Dog category. This Bull Terrier was close to death when she was brought to a Georgia animal shelter. She had been confined in a cage and starved to the point that the veterinarian gave her only a 1% chance of survival. A shelter worker took her home and literally loved her back to life, calling her Xena the Warrior Puppy. When Xena was ready, she was taken to an adoption event where she spotted Jonny, an autistic boy who didn’t respond to much of anything. But he immediately connected with Xena and now the two are inseparable. Visit Xena’s website at XenatheWarriorPuppy.com to read her “story of survival, love, friendship and hope”, and to see some amazing before-and-after pictures. Xena the Warrior Puppy’s charity partner is Sheltie Rescue of Utah. Her Facebook page is “XenaandJonny”.
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.