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Hero Dog Awards 2020 - Part 2

American Humane Association

The 2020 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 Dog, Shelter Dog, Law Enforcement/Arson Dog, Therapy Dog, Military Dog, Search and Rescue Dog, Guide/Hearing Dog. 


Credit American Humane Association
Olive - Therapy Dog

Interacting with an animal can be very theraputic for humans. While other animals, such as horses and cats 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.

Blue II P491 - Military Dog


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. “Dolly Pawton” was nominated in the Service Dog Category, and “K-9 Cody” represents the Law Enforcement/Arson category.

A special (and lucky) little dog named Olive is nominated in the Therapy Dog Category. When Olive was picked up by animal control she was hungry, dirty, and covered with fleas and ticks. Brandon McMillan from the CBS show, “Lucky Dog”, saw something in her eyes as she sat in that cage at the animal shelter. He trained her to be a unique therapy dog for Court Appointed Special Advocates, an organization that works with abused and neglected children. She provides comfort and assurance to frightened children as they testify in court about abuse they have suffered. More than three hundred traumatized youngsters have experienced Olive’s love for them as she sits by their side, calms their nerves and eases their anxiety. This hero dog is changing kids’ lives.   Olive's sponsor is World Pet Association.

Blue II P491, a black Labrador Retriever, is nominated in the Military Dog Category. As an Improvised Explosive Detection dog, she served with the Marines in Afghanistan, going on more than three hundred combat missions, locating many explosive devices and saving countless lives. When her first handler was honorably discharged, he had to leave Blue behind, but promised he would adopt her when she retired. Six years later, he did just that. She now lives with her former handler, his wife, their two children, and several dogs and cats. She received an award for her military service from the United States War Dog Association. Now she is hoping for your vote to be America’s next Hero Dog.

You can find out more about the Hero Dog Awards and this year’s finalists by visiting the website at 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.


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