The 2015 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, Arson Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Military Dogs, Guide/Hearing Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs.
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.
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.
Over the past several weeks I have highlighted some of the eight finalists for this year’s Hero Dog Award, sponsored by the American Humane Association. “Axel” is nominated as a Service Dog, “Harley (the Puppy Mill Dog)” represents the Emerging Hero Dog category, “Glory” is an Arson Dog, “Dax” represents Law Enforcement Dogs, the Military Dog is a Marine veteran named Rambo; and a Pit Bull-mix known as “Hudson the Railroad Puppy” is a Therapy Dog.
The remaining two finalists represent the more commonly noticed service dogs.
Chara, a Norwegian Elkhound, is a Hearing Dog. Her handler was born deaf and needed a trained dog to alert her to sounds around her. Then Chara’s handler developed a neurological condition due to a work injury. Chara taught herself to alert her owner about oncoming seizures. She is also credited with saving the life of her owner’s infant son, alerting her when the baby stopped breathing. Her charity partner is the Guide Dog Users, Inc.
Two dogs named “Glory” are Hero Dog finalists this year. One, a yellow Lab, represents the Arson Dog category. The other Glory is a California girl nominated in the Search and Rescue Dogs group. She is an eight-year-old Bloodhound certified to trail and locate lost dogs and cats. Her owner says Glory loves her job as a pet detective; she is always ready to search and find. The challenge often is to keep up with her, as she heads under, over, around and through obstacles or underbrush, following the scent of one particular animal, distinguishing it from all the other scents that may distract lesser dogs. The pet owners who call needing her help are immensely grateful for her tracking expertise. Glory’s Facebook page is “Glory the Bloodhound”. Her charity partner is the National Search Dog Alliance.
Learn more about the wonderful animals that are nominated for the 2015 Hero Dog Award by visiting website at HeroDogAwards.org. 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.