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Alice - 2019 Hero Dog of the Year

American Humane Association [Facebook]

The  2019 winner of the American Humane Association's Hero Dog Award shows the power of a service dog to change a boy's life.  Because of his specially-trained dog, Alice, Antonio is able to enjoy life much like any other teenager.  No wonder he calls her his "guardian angel"!


A couple of months ago I highlighted the seven truly incredible finalists for the American Humane Association’s 2019 Hero Dog Award.

Alice” was nominated in the Service Dog Category; “K-9 Dax” represented the Law Enforcement/Arson category; “Jeanie” is a Therapy Dog; “Sgt. Yeager” is a Military Dog; “Leader Dog Lady” is a Guide Dog; the Search and Rescue Dog is “Piglet”; and "Gus" represents the Shelter Dog category.

These seven finalists should be recognized for their unique contributions to their people. This week the Hallmark Channel broadcast the star-studded awards ceremony to announce the winner of the Hero Dog Award for 2019.

And the winner is – “Alice”, the Therapy Dog!

Four years ago at age nine, a normal, playful soccer-loving boy named Antonio was shot in the head while riding in his parents’ SUV. As a result, he suffers from seizures and balance issues, even after five brain surgeries that have left him with a permanent traumatic brain injury, and an artificial flap that covers a large portion of his skull.

Three years ago his community raised funds to get Alice, a dog custom-trained by Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs to help Antonio. She goes wherever he goes, alerting him to oncoming seizures and helping with his balance issues, since a fall could be fatal. She makes it possible for the teenager to do many of the simple things we all take for granted. No wonder she was named Hero Dog of the Year.

Your dog may not be a hero to anyone except you, but this is the time of year when you can be a hero for your pet, by taking care to protect it on Halloween. Keep candy and other treats away from your furry buddy, especially if they contain xylitol (an artificial sweetener) or chocolate, both of which are poisonous to dogs.

Also, keep your pet safely indoors or on a tight leash - it may become spooked by all the strange comings and goings.

This Halloween, you can be a hero to your furry friend by keeping it safe, so you can both enjoy all the seasons together, when you’re speaking of pets.


Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.
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