The 2019 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.
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. They can truly be life savers! They can also bring comfort and closure to families who want to know what happened to their loved ones.
Over the past couple of weeks I have highlighted some of the seven finalists for this year’s Hero Dog Award, sponsored by the American Humane Association. “Alice” was nominated in the Service Dog Category. “K-9 Dax” represents the Law Enforcement/Arson category. “Jeanie” is a Therapy Dog; and “Sgt. Yeager” is a Military Dog.
The two finalists this week represent the more commonly noticed service dogs. Leader Dog Lady, a black Labrador Retriever, is a Guide Dog for Dawn Rudolph who has been blind from birth. Dawn relied on others to help her get around, but still stumbled and tripped. Finally at age 40, she decided to use a white cane. Then at a conference she heard about Leader Dogs for the Blind and it changed her life. Now Dawn and Lady cross busy intersections, travel on planes, attend conventions and fundraisers for Leader Dogs, going through life as an inseparable team. Dawn says Lady is definitely her hero!
Piglet is nominated in the Search and Rescue Dogs group. A Catahoula Leopard dog, trained and certified to discover human remains, she is one of only a handful of that breed working in Search and Rescue. She and her handler Lori Wells have traveled thousands of miles and spent countless hours working to locate a subject. One of their assignments was to help search around Paradise, California in the aftermath of the horrific “Camp Fire” there. Whether locating a missing person or helping to bring closure to a grieving family, this hard-working little dog maintains a great attitude. You can see more pictures of her on the Facebook page, “Piglet Search and Rescue Hero Dog Awards”
Learn more about the wonderful animals nominated for the 2019 Hero Dog Award by visiting the 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.