The 2013 Hero Dog Awards seeks 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, Search and Rescue Dogs, Law Enforcement/Arson Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Military Dogs, Guide Dogs and 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.
For the past couple of weeks I have highlighted some of the eight finalists for the Hero Dog Award, sponsored by the American Humane Association. SD Bronx was nominated in the Service Dog Category, Cassidy represents the Emerging Hero Dog category, John D is a Search and Rescue Dog, and a German Shepherd named K9 Lakota represents Law Enforcement and Arson Dogs.
An American Bull Terrier named Elle is nominated in the Therapy Dog category. Her breed is more commonly known as “Pit Bull”, which can be scary – unless you’ve met Elle. She has been a Registered Therapy Dog for three years, and currently helps children in a reading program as a Reading Education Assistance Dog. Elle has a sweet and gentle disposition, which makes her a great friend for children and a true ambassador for her breed. She is on Facebook as “Elle the Pit Bull”. Elle’s charity partner is Hand in Paw.
The Military Dog category is represented by a ten-year-old Lab named CWD Carlos, who is a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan. Trained to sniff out weapons, he worked checkpoints and on the front lines with U.S. Special Forces. He is credited with saving the lives of countless American Soldiers. As he aged, Carlos developed arthritis and a cataract in one eye, and was retired two years ago. A Colorado family adopted him and his human comrades made sure he could get home. Since then, he has survived several health challenges, including cancer. In his life Carlos has been a soldier, a decorated war veteran, a cancer survivor and now a rescued dog, and he still has a zest for life. He never meets a stranger, which is just another reason he serves as a Goodwill Ambassador for Military Working Dog Adoptions, which helps civilians find and adopt retiring military canine heroes. On Facebook, you can find him as “CWD Carlos Hero Dog”. Carlos’s charity partner is Military Working Dog Adoptions.
Learn more about the Hero Dog Awards by visiting the website at HeroDogAwards.org. Cast your vote for the finalist you think should be America’s Hero Dog. In my opinion it seems like an impossible choice because they are all heroes, when we’re speaking of pets.