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Hero Dog Awards 2021 - Part 2

American Humane Association

The 2021 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 and Detection Dog, Therapy Dog, Military Dog, Search and Rescue Dog, Guide/Hearing Dog. 

Credit American Humane Association
Summer - 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.

Credit American Humane Association
Boone - Therapy Dog

Interacting with an animal can be very therapeutic 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 Therapy Dog can make a significant contribution to many treatment programs.


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. “Sobee” was nominated in the Service Dog Category, and “K-9 Hansel” represents the Law Enforcement and Detection category.

Staff Sergeant Summer, a Labrador Retriever, is nominated in the Military Dog Category. While serving with the Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan, and putting her life on the line to protect the troops, she was exposed to war conditions and traumatic events which left her suffering with PTSD. Returning stateside, she served as a Police Explosive Detection Dog in Mt. Airy, Maryland for the past several years, ensuring the safety and security of Amtrak trains and passengers. Recently retired, Summer still serves by visiting her fellow veterans at the local veterans home.

A very special Beagle named Boone is nominated in the Therapy Dog Category. With his sweet nature, you would never know he suffered unimaginable cruelty by having his hind legs amputated as a puppy. He was rescued and adopted by a family who understands special-needs pets. They had him fitted with a wheelchair, and now there’s no stopping this outgoing, good-natured and enthusiastic therapy dog. With his trademark bow tie and his ever-present smile, Boone is an inspiration to people every day to overcome whatever obstacles you face and meet life head-on with joy and enthusiasm. In fact, his owner has published a children’s book, “Bow Tie Boone”, available on Amazon, with the proceeds going to Joey’s PAW, an organization that helps special needs dogs. You can check out that smile on his Facebook page at “A Miracle Named Boone”.

Find out more about the Hero Dog Awards and this year’s finalists by visiting the website at HeroDogAwards.org. While you’re there, cast your vote for the finalist you think should be America’s Hero Dog, because some heroes have paws and salute with a tail-wag, when we’re speaking of pets.


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