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Hero Dog Awards 2020 - Part 3

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 Dogs, Shelter Dogs, Law Enforcement/ Arson Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Military Dogs, Guide/Hearing Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs.

Credit American Humane Association
Aura - Hearing Dog

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.

Credit American Humane Association
Remington - Search and Rescue Dog

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 can truly be life savers!  Human Remains Detection dogs help locate bodies and may be instrumental in solving crimes or bringing closure for family members.


Over the past couple of weeks I have highlighted some of the seven finalists for the American Humane Association’s Hero Dog Award. “Dolly Pawton” was nominated in the Service Dog Category. “K-9 Cody” represents the Law Enforcement/Arson category. “Olive” is a Therapy Dog; and “Blue II P491” is a Military Dog.

A beautiful black Labrador Retriever named Aura is a Hearing Dog for Gretchen Evans, a Command Sargeant Major in the Army who lost her hearing in a rocket attack in Afghanistan. After struggling with her deafness for ten years, she finally contacted America’s VetDogs. They had never trained a hearing dog but agreed to find a way. Five years ago, Gretchen was paired with her “furry guardian angel” Aura, who alerts her to sounds like the doorbell, alarm clock, even text messages on her phone. This decorated Army hero now has her own canine hero, who has her back all the time.

Remington is nominated in the Search and Rescue Dogs group. He is Labrador Retriever mix, trained and nationally certified in Human Remains Detection, working many high profile cases and assisting law enforcement in five states. And he became a public relations officer for his local fire department.

Two years ago, he developed a limp that turned out to be a major medical issue – and an expensive one. His owner could not afford the needed veterinary surgery and was facing the prospect of having "Remi" euthanized. Then on a bag of Sport Dog Food, she saw information about Project K-9 Hero. So she called and was told to “get him the treatment he needs – we’ll worry about the money.” After surgery to remove his leg and part of his hip, this hero dog gets around just fine, appearing at events to raise awareness and funding for other retired service dogs.

Learn more about the wonderful animals nominated for the 2020 Hero Dog Award by visiting the website at 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.


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