Hero Dog Awards Part 3

Over the past two weeks, I’ve told you about five of the seven finalists for this year’s American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards. “Recon” is nominated in the Assistance Dog category. “Keb” is a search and rescue dog. “K-9 Riggs” represents the Law Enforcement and Detection category. Kinley, a yellow Labrador, is a guide dog. The Shelter Dog (appropriately) is a mixed breed dog named Ethan.

Iiken, a black lab, is a military dog. Trained as a specialist search dog, he has been deployed all over the world, including two tours to Afghanistan, where he was injured, sent back to the United States for surgery and rehab, and then redeployed. He saved countless lives during his service to his country. He retired from the military several years ago and is now a celebrity in his home state of Arizona, where he works as a medical benefits advocate for retired military working dogs.

Cole, the therapy dog, is a pit bull. Deaf from birth, he was abandoned and in an animal shelter, labeled as a “special needs” dog. A local elementary school music teacher found him at the shelter and, looking past his deafness, saw the “potential.” He shared with his class Cole’s story of how he wasn’t adopted just because he was born “different.” The students related to this, and to Cole. So the teacher trained him to be a certified therapy dog. In addition to schools, he visits veterans’ homes and hospices. Cole’s mission is to encourage people to look beyond their race and disability, and instead see the possibilities.

For more information on the Hero Dog Awards and the seven finalists vying for this year’s top spot, visit the website at HeroDogAwards.org and vote for who you think should be America’s next Hero Dog. But hurry, because time is running out. Whether they’re saving or enriching lives, these four-legged heroes deserve our gratitude when it comes to pets.