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. They truly are life-savers!
“Gander” is nominated as a Service Dog, “Hooch” represents the Emerging Hero Dog category, “Judge” is an Arson Dog, “K-9 Edo” represents Law Enforcement Dogs, the Military Dog is a combat veteran named Layka; and a Cairn Terrier-Yorkie mix named “Mango” is a Therapy Dog.
The remaining two finalists represent more commonly noticed service dogs.
Hook, a little Chihuahua-Jack Russel mix, is a Hearing Dog. His owner is a family therapist in Sacramento, California, and has a significant hearing loss that causes problems, especially outdoors. Hook helps alert her to important sounds. She credits this little powerhouse with saving her from being hit by an oncoming train when he literally pulled her off the track. When his owner is working, Hook is right there beside her, ready to offer comfort or bring a smile to a patient’s face. His charity partner is the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind.
From the other side of the country in York, Maine, Kobuk is nominated in the Search and Rescue Dogs group. He is a six-year-old German Shepherd certified for search and rescue. They work with law enforcement agencies and assist with missing person cases. A couple of years ago he and his owner/handler spent several days searching for an elderly woman suffering with dementia and diabetes who became lost in the woods of Maine. Kobuk found her just in time to save her life. He loves people and he loves his job of search and rescue. His charity partner is the National Search Dog Alliance.
Learn more about the wonderful animals that are nominated for the 2016 Hero Dog Award by visiting the website at HeroDogAwards.org. Cast your vote for the finalist you think should be America’s Hero Dog – but don’t delay because voting ends Wednesday, August 24th!
Whether saving a life or just enriching one, these four-legged heroes deserve our gratitude, when we’re speaking of pets.