Eight four-legged finalists who have already been deemed top dog in their respective category will now win the admiration of voters as the public decides which courageous canine should take home the American Hero Dog title at the American Humane Association’s 5th annual Hero Dog Awards. Dog devotees are invited to cast one vote each day through September 7th at www.herodogawards.org.
Arson Dog Category
A certified accelerant detection dog, Glory’s nose was trained to know how to identify faint traces of hydrocarbon-based accelerants in order to fight the problem of intentionally set fires, but her caring heart instinctively senses when a firefighter or paramedic who has faced a distressing situation needs the companionship of a furry friend. Also an educator, Glory and her handler helps to spread the word about fire safety, prevention, and arson awareness.
Glory’s charity partner is Project Paws Alive.
Emerging Hero Dog Category
After a decade of despair within the confines of a cramped cage, Harley found himself on the road to a promising future when he was saved from a puppy mill. His path to emotional and physical recovery was the inspiration for “Harley to the Rescue,” a fundraising campaign which has given a new lease on life to more than 500 who had been trapped inside a nightmare since its start in 2013.
Knowing the fear and confusion felt by puppy mill dogs, Harley takes part in rescue missions, silently communicating his compassion to calm their concerns. Harley’s dogged determination to create a better tomorrow for his barking buddies is also expressed through educational public appearances, where the scars of his past– which include a fused spine, a diseased heart, a broken tail, deformed legs and a missing eye (which occurred when his cage was power-washed while he was still inside)– are a testament to the need to heed the plight of puppy mill dogs.
Harley’s charity partner is New Leash on Life.
Guide/Hearing Dogs Category
Trained as a signal service dog, when Chara’s handler developed Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy type II with Dystonia the kind-hearted canine learned the abilities needed to help her pet parent. Now able to detect an impending myoclonic dystonic attack 15 – 45 minutes before an episode occurs, the diligent dog also used her skills to save the life of her handler’s baby when a cold caused the newborn to stop breathing.
Chara’s charity partner is Guide Dog Users Inc.
Service Dogs Category
Once just a week away from facing his fate at a shelter, today Axel acts as a “lifesaver” for his best buddy, retired Marines Captain Jason Hoag. Diagnosed with PTSD and traumatic brain injury after his second combat tour in the Middle East, returning to civilian life also proved to be a battle for Hoag. Weary of his fight against such foes as severe depression and alcohol abuse, he contacted K9s for Warriors, an organization which provides service dogs to veterans. Today Axel the German Shepherd can be found at his human companion’s side, his comforting presence assuring Hoag that his time in a combat zone has ended, and that peaceful days lie ahead.
Axel’s charity partner is Dogs on Deployment.
Military Dogs Category
After 994 hours of training and 622 missions, a left shoulder injury which eventually resulted in amputation may have brought Sgt. Rambo’s days as an explosive detection MWD to an end, but the courageous canine continues to serve his country– first as an Alamo Honor Flight’s mascot, accompanying World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., and serving as the official ambassador for the Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act, and now as a mascot for Gizmo’s Gift, a Texas nonprofit organization which provides financial support to families who adopt a retired working dog. Sgt. Rambo also meets with youth groups, makes pals with kids who are challenged by special needs, and pays visits to area nursing homes to bring a smile to residents who suffer with dementia.
Rambo’s charity partner is America’s VetDogs, the Veteran’s K-9 Corps.
Search and Rescue Dogs Category
Every two seconds a pet goes missing in the United States, but in the area of Sun Valley, California pet parents have a four-legged hero they can turn to for help. Glory, an eight-year-old Bloodhound, has been trained and certified to find lost companion animals, and has reunited hundreds of dogs and cats with their forever families over the years. “How does one even put words to an experience of knowing we may never have seen Paisley again?” a pet parent to a Yorkshire Terrier who had been missing for three days explains. “Without Glory’s devotion to her work, we wouldn’t be sitting here with Paisley tonight.” “When I received the devastating news Goldie was missing, I spent six nights walking through the area and calling into a megaphone, put up 300 posters and offered a $1,000 reward,” stated Derek, the pet parent of a lost Pomeranian. “Goldie was lost 60 miles away with no food or water– it was more than my family could bear. Our hearts were broken. At nine days missing Glory found Goldie alive under crates in an outdoor factory.”
Goldie’s charity partner is National Search Dog Alliance.
Therapy Dogs Category
Found nailed to a railroad track, three-week-old puppy Hudson endured a difficult start to life, but now thanks to a prosthetic paw and forever pet parents, the Pit Bull who was once so horribly hurt is helping others to heal. As a therapy dog, Hudson raises awareness about animal cruelty, visits with patients in hospice care and their families, and helps everyone he meets to see the true, loving nature of Pit Bull type dogs.
Hudson’s charity partner is Hand in Paw.
Law Enforcement Dogs Category
True blue to his fellow men and women in blue, K9 Dax saved his partner Officer Chris Alberini by being the first to face a suspect who was hiding out in an attic with a shotgun. Biting the suspect’s leg and fighting the armed man, Dax helped to apprehend the suspect, who– it was later discovered– had texted his attorney and girlfriend about killing police.
Dax’s charity partner is K9s4COPS.
This year’s Hero Dog Awards celebrity judges are Adrienne Maloof, Alison Eastwood, Ashlan Gorse Cousteau and Philippe Cousteau, Bailee Madison, Blake Koch, Jennifer Arnold, Jerry Means, Joanna Horowitz, Kristin Bauer van Straten, Laura Nativo, Lisa Vanderpump, Lou Wegner, Prince Lorenzo Borghese, Shara Strand and Victoria Stilwell.
Hero Dog Awards Gala
Each of the eight finalists will be flown to Los Angeles for the annual Hero Dog Awards gala, which will be held September 19th at the Beverly Hilton. Fans of Fidos and famous faces can watch the Rovers enjoy their red carpet moment when the two-hour presentation airs in October on the Hallmark Channel.
Photo Credit: American Humane Association/Facebook