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.
Usually a Guide Dog is part of a team that includes a dog and a person. The animal is trained to lead, follow commands, ignore distractions, and even disobey if that would put the human in danger. The human also must be trained on how to handle the dog and how to be a good leader of the team. It is a living example of a trust bond between human and animal.
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.
Over the past several 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; a German Shepherd named K9 Lakota represents Law Enforcement and Arson Dogs; the finalist in the Military Dog category is a Lab named CWD Carlos; and Elle, an American Bull Terrier is nominated in the Therapy Dog category.
The remaining two finalists are what most folks think of when they hear the term “service dog”.
Jingles is a Guide Dog that is part Lab, part Golden Retriever. She is a member of an unusual two-dog team, working alongside a diabetic alert dog, a Dachshund named Maizie, to help her human Karen Ann who has multiple disabilities. Most guide dogs are trained to work on the left side, but because Karen Ann’s left hand is weak, Jingles had to be specially trained to work on the right side. According to Karen Ann, Jingles is a sweet dog with a bubbly personality, but she’s also a hard worker. She guides her human safely across busy streets and through crowded stores. She calls Jingles her “right hand girl”. Jingles’s charity partner is The Seeing Eye.
Lola is nominated in the Hearing Dog category. Her owner Charlene says Lola is a life-saver, which is interesting considering Lola herself was rescued from an abusive situation. A hearing dog’s job is to alert its human to sounds we all take for granted – alarm clocks, doorbells, kitchen timers, even smoke detectors. Lola does all that, plus so much more. She is a companion that encourages Charlene to stay connected and involved in the world around her. Lola’s charity partner is Dogs for the Deaf.
Learn more about the wonderful animals that are nominated for the 2013 Hero Dog Award by visiting 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.