The 2018 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, Law Enforcement/Arson Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Military Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs, Guide/Hearing Dogs, and Emerging Hero Dogs.
The Service Dog category includes animals that assist people with disabilities other than sight and hearing. Most have received special training.
Law Enforcement dogs include what we often think of as police dogs, animals specially trained to patrol, search buildings, track criminals, and to detect drugs, narcotics and explosive devices. Arson dogs are animals trained to sniff out accelerants that may have been used to start a fire.
For the eighth year, the American Humane Association wants to find America’s top hero dogs. Thousands of votes were cast online, narrowing the field down to just seven finalists, each a separate category. For the next few weeks, I’ll highlight these seven extraordinary canines. And once again you will have the opportunity vote online for your favorite to be named Hero Dog of the Year.
Let’s begin with Roxy the PTSD Service Dog, a Bull Terrier nominated in the Service Dog category. Her human, disabled veteran Justin Tucker, came home from Iraq struggling with PTSD. Trained to sense changes in Justin and redirect his focus, together they visit their local VA hospital, bringing encouragement to other veterans and showing America’s heroes that a Pit Bull can be not just a good dog but an amazing service dog. Roxy’s Charity Partner is Paws and Stripes. Her Facebook page is “Roxy the PTSD service dog.”
K-9 Flash, a thirteen-year-old German Shepherd mix, is nominated in the Law Enforcement/Arson category. At 9 months old, she was rescued from a local shelter one day before she was to be euthanized, and went into training for narcotics detection. She was a star pupil, and had a great career with over 3,000 deployments and more than 2,200 narcotic finds and seizures. Most folks don’t realize that K-9 heroes often lose all funding support when they retire. So when Flash retired five years ago, she was still so healthy and active that her handler decided to start a national nonprofit to care for retired K-9 heroes like Flash, helping with things like food and medical care. You can learn more about it at “projectK9hero.org”. Flash’s charity partner is K9s4Cops.
For more information about the Hero Dog Awards, and the seven finalists competing for this year’s top spot, visit the website at HeroDogAwards.org. While you’re there, cast your vote for the one you think should be America’s next Hero Dog.
It’s a great way to celebrate these special animals who make our lives better – and sometimes safer - in so many ways, when you’re speaking of pets.