Thursday, May 30, 2024


Hero Dogs

On November 11th at 8 pm Eastern, Hallmark Channel will be televising the first ever American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards.  With over 750 entries in eight categories, competition was fierce.  Although the winner was chosen in October, we’ll never tell.  What we will share, however, are short descriptions of the finalists, chosen by 400,000 voters from the public at large.

Cesar Canine Cuisine, the show’s presenter, donated $200,000 to the American Humane Association’s charity partners, including The Pine Street Foundation, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Dogs for the Deaf, National Fire Dog Monument, U.S. War Dog Association, National Search Dog Alliance, Canine Companions for Independence, and Paws & Effect.

Without further ado:  here are the eight finalists.

Sadie, an arson dog living in Westminster, CO, is competing for the National Fire Dog Monument fund in the category of Law Enforcement / Arson dogs.  Sadie is certified as an accelerant detection K-9 and works in the Major Crimes  Unit of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, where she has worked on over 400 fires.  She also does demonstrations to promote fire safety and prevention.  She was nominated by her partner.

Harley, a hearing assistance dog living in Fountain Hills, AZ, is competing for the Dogs for the Deaf charity in the category of Hearing Dogs.  The person Harley helps has been severely hearing-impaired for his whole life, but didn’t acquire Harley until he was 52.   After being diagnosed later in childhood than most, and was often seen as lacking in intelligence due to his undiagnosed and untreated problems communicating.   He credits Harley with giving him self-confidence and a feeling of equality with others, making him proud to nominate Harley for a Hero Dog award.

Sage, a 12-year old disaster and human remains specialist, lives in Hagerman, NM and is competing for the National Search Dog Alliance in the category of Search and Rescue Dogs.  Sage passed the FEMA Canine Readiness Evaluation at 18 months of age and participated in the 9/11 rescue efforts at the Pentagon, where she located the remains of one of the terrorists.  Sage also helped look for Natalee Holloway in Aruba and for numerous victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  Probably as a direct result of her work, she was diagnosed with two types of lung cancer at age 9.  Now cancer-free, she inspires cancer patients and survivors with her resilience, enthusiasm, and zest for life.

Bino, a 13-year old Dutch Shepherd from Las Cruces, NM, is competing for the US War Dog Association in the category of Military Dogs.  Bino served the 35th MP Detachment at Ft. Gordon, GA in narcotics detection and patrol, including 14 months in Iraq and several missions with the Border Patrol in the war on drugs.  Now retired from the military, Bino is the Official Mascot of  MWD Adoptions and works as a PTSD demo service dog.  He teaches Ft. Bliss Wounded Warriors and their shelter dog partners in Public Access, showing them how to navigate public places such as grocery stores, malls, and airports.

Roselle, a yellow lab from Novato, CA, competes for Guide Dogs for the Blind in the category of Guide Dogs.  Roselle’s human worked on the 78th floor of Tower One at the World Trade Center.  When American Airlines flight 11 crashed into the building 11 floors above their office, Roselle had to remain calm in order to guide her human down 1,463 stairs to the first floor.  After evacuating to safety, the pair were across the street from Tower Two when it collapsed.  In the midst of falling debris, Roselle stayed calm and took them to a subway entrance where they could find shelter from the ensuing dust cloud. Roselle’s human credits her with saving his life on that fateful September day in 2001.

Stacey Mae, a 4-year old Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, lives in Guffey, CO and is competing for Paws and Effect in the category of Therapy Dogs.  Her mission is collecting teddy bears and stuffed animals for hospitalized children.  Calling on friends around the world, Stacey Mae has collected nearly 2,000 toys for distribution.

Ricochet lives in Escondido, CA and is competing for the Pine Street Foundation (a Canine Cancer Detection organization) in the category of Emerging Hero Dogs.  Ricochet started out in life trying to be a therapy dog, but an intense interest in prey made that impossible.  Now she uses her surfing skills, Ricochet helps special needs kids and people with disabilities learn to surf without fear.A YouTube video chronicling her journey “From Service Dog to SURFice Dog” went viral, collecting over 3 million views.  Ricochet’s message is simple:  be who you truly are, focus on what you CAN do, and turn negatives into positives.

Zurich, a Labrador Retriever, lives with his human, Patti, in Des Plaines, IL, and is competing for Canine Companions for Independence in the Service Dogs category.  Patti has survived six years beyond what her doctors thought was possible, with Zurich by her side since 2004.  He was certified as a CCI service dog and helps Patti with her everyday living challenges.

So, there you have them.  The eight finalists.  Who will be the winner?  Tune in Friday, November 11, 2011 at 8 pm on the Hallmark Channel to find out.

If you have a hero dog:  Although this year’s competition is over, look for the 2012 competition to begin in mid-March.  Check our blog for details, which we’ll post as soon as they’re available.





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