The 2017 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, Emerging Hero Dogs, Law Enforcement/Arson Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Military Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs, Guide/Hearing Dogs.
Interacting with an animal can be very theraputic 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 certified Therapy Dog can make a significant contribution to many treatment programs.
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.
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. “Atlas the Wonderdog” was nominated in the Service Dog Category, and “Ice” represents the Law Enforcement/Arson category.
An amazing Pit Bull named Aladdin is nominated in the Therapy Dog Category. Four years ago he was brought to an animal shelter with broken back legs, a broken tail and missing twelve teeth. He weighed only eighteen pounds, shocking for an animal that should have been forty pounds or more. A volunteer who specializes in fostering pit bull rescues agreed to take this pitiful dog.
Even with expert attention, Aladdin’s recovery was long and difficult, but within a year he was doing great. He still walks awkwardly because of his injures, but he is now a certified therapy dog, and a trained crisis response dog – with lots of love for everyone he meets. You can read more of his story on his Facebook page, “Aladdin Nation”. His charity partner is Hand in Paw.
Adak, a thirteen-year-old German Shepherd who has spent most of his life as a Contract Working Dog for the United States State Department, is nominated in the Military Dog Category. He served in Iraq in 2006, performing a sweep of the Baghdad Central Station in advance of a dignitary’s arrival, when he alerted his handler to a suspicious vehicle. In Afghanistan in 2008, at the scene of a terror attack, with terrorists still inside the hotel, he led his team from one room to another, eventually helping to evacuate more than twenty people.
He has helped ensure the safety of dignitaries, celebrities, and events in more than ten states and three countries. Learn more about this handsome hero on his Facebook Page, “K9Adak”. His charity partner is Paws and Stripes.
You can learn more about the Hero Dog Awards and this year’s finalists by visiting the website at HeroDogAwards.org. You can vote for the finalist you think should be America’s Hero Dog, because some heroes have four legs, when we’re speaking of pets.