By Steve Dale
If you have a dog, there's no doubt your best friend is a hero to you. But some dogs' heroic exploits are downright amazing.
Heroic canines and their accomplishments will be celebrated October 1 in Los Angeles at the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards (sponsored by Cesar brand dog food). Finalists will walk the red carpet (plastic bags provided) at the star-studded event.
Anyone may nominate a dog to be honored. Entries must be received, May 31.
Then, starting in June, members of the public can go online and vote for their favorite candidates in eight categories: Search-and-Rescue Dogs, Guide Dogs. Service Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Hearing Dogs (who signal people who are hearing impaired), Military Working Dogs, Law Enforcement/Arson Dogs, and Emerging Hero Dogs.
Here's a warning: Reading the hero dog stories may require tissue. (click continue reading)
For example, Bud is a service dog from Union City, CA. "I was in a near
fatal car accident," says the contest entrant. "I was in an induced coma
for two months.
My brain injuries caused me to have seizures. In 2001, I
got a Bull Mastiff puppy (Bud), and over the years he seemed to know
when I was going to have a seizure. His normal calm nature would change,
he would whine and scratch at me, and soon after I'd have a seizure. I
don't know how he knows, but I'm grateful. Bud is my pal, confidant and
savior. I can now live my life the way I used to."
Another service dog, named Johnny, from Phoenix, AZ, alerted her owner to a fire, perhaps saving her life.
It can be tough for a young teenager to pay attention, but Muggs,
another service dog, has A.J. covered. Whenever A.J., from Peoria, IL
slips toward a diabetic low, Muggs warns him.
Under the category of Law Enforcement/Arson Dog, Sadie, of Westminster,
CO, has sniffed for evidence following 400 fires. Her body of work has
led to many arson arrests.
"Sadie has worked in extreme environments
(high rise buildings to mountains) and never missed a call to duty," the
entrant writes. Sadie also conducts about 50 K-9 demonstrations a year
to promote fire safety and prevention.
Steven, a wounded veteran in Friendswood, TX, says his dog, Sonny,
provides balance support and guide dog (or seeing eye dog) assistance.
Those who know Steven give equal credit to medical science and Sonny for
Steven's remarkable progress.
In Plano, TX, Mr. Bojangles is a Bloodhound with an impressive resume,
beginning with finding several wandering Alzheimer's victims. He's also
helped police nab murderers, not once but twice. When a taxi driver was
found murdered and the cab was dumped about a mile from the crime scene,
Mr. Bojangles picked up the perpetrator's scent from the car's steering
wheel and trailed the bad guy for nearly two miles. When a woman was
found stabbed to death, Mr. Bojangles was taken to the fence the
attacker jumped over to escape. Again with just a few sniffs, he was
able to find the killers. Both murderers are now behind bars serving
life sentences thanks to the heroic pooch.
Chef H067, a Military Working Dog, is a retired Navy explosives
detection and patrol dog.
He served two combat tours in Iraq, one tour
in Africa, and assisted in numerous Secret Service missions during his
active duty career. Now retired from active service, he continues to
visit hospitalized veterans. Many are Vietnam vets, some of whom have
opened up to Chef H067 for the first time as a result of finding a
Victoria Stilwell, from Animal Planet's "It's Me or the Dog," is a
national ambassador for the American Humane Association and among the
judges for the Hero Dog Awards.
In the days following 9-11, Stilwell
helping arrange for "comfort dogs" who accompanied families on boats
that passed by the site of the World Trade Center so loved ones could
toss wreaths or flowers into the river. During one trip, a little boy
lay side by side with a Cocker Spaniel, contentedly hugging the dog.
"I can still picture that boy's mom, who told me it was her boy's first
smile since his dad had died," says Stilwell. "Yes, we definitely need
to recognize these dogs. They are heroes. Dogs give us so much."
Other celebrity judges include Whoopi Goldberg, Fabio Viviani (from TV's
"Top Chef") actor Orlando Brown (Disney Channel), plus others still to
"This is a wonderful opportunity to recognize the powerful relationship
between dogs and people," says Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of the
American Humane Association. "The Hero Dog Awards are about elevating
the status of animals in society by celebrating our relationships in the
world we share."
Submit nominations and then vote for your favorite canine heroes here.
©Steve Dale, Tribune Media Services
Tags: actor Orlando Brown, American Humane Association, and Emerging Hero Dogs, Fabio Viviani, Guide Dogs. Service Dogs, Hearing Dogs (who signal people who are hearing impaired), Hero Dog Awards, Law Enforcement/Arson Dogs, military working dogs, Robin Ganzert, Search and Rescue dogs, September 11, Steve Dale, Steve Dale archives, therapy dogs, Victoria Stilwell, Whoopi Goldberg