John Legend is one of a very few EGOT (Emmy/Grammy/Oscar/Tony) winners. Singer, producer and songwriter, he has done it all. There is one award, however, that he won’t be putting in his trophy case (maybe trophy room?), and that is the Hero Dog Award. Though to be honest, if any human could, he’d be a likely contender. So what does it take to be a canine crusader?
Many Breeds of Heroness
Ask someone for a definition for “hero dog” and you’re likely to hear about military and police K-9s. Without a doubt, they fit the bill, but there are other equally valid categories out there. Consider some of these:
Seeing eye — Typically, an 8-week old puppy is donated and sent off to a loving training home to learn the basics of things like obedience and socialization. A bit more than a year later they enter formal training with a sighted instructor to learn how to guide their eventual sight-impaired person. These pooches have helped many people move through a world they cannot see.
Search and rescue — When disaster strikes, these dogs put paws on the ground to help the trapped and injured. Countless people have been saved from the aftermath of tornadoes, earthquakes and even terrorist attacks. When the Islamic terrorists took down the Twin Towers in the cowardly attacks on September 11, 2001, 300 of these warriors joined their human counterparts in the search for victims. They are honored with a statue at ground-zero.
And here’s an interesting fact that proves even our most fearless canines have a heart. As these rescue dogs searched the rubble for victims, they encountered so many that didn’t make it alive, they became depressed. Their handlers helped them cope by burying themselves and letting the dogs find them, so the dogs could feel like they had “saved” someone.
Therapy — Much has been made about therapy (emotional support) pets in recent years, and rightly so. Who can forget the “therapy peacock” denied boarding an airplane? Other animals that have actually been allowed to accompany their owners include a kangaroo, a duck and a squirrel. And if you travel around the Middle East, you may find yourself sharing the cabin with a falcon or two. But, there are real therapy dogs out there. They can regularly be seen around hospitals bringing a bit of joy to patients who are confined there getting treated for a variety of issues. Who in that position couldn’t use a prescription for unconditional love?
Let’s meet some of the pups up for contention in round two of the voting.
Alice — She’s a service dog who helps her person, Antonio. He’s a boy who was shot in the head in a random shooting and because of those thugs, even day-to-day tasks would be impossible without her.
Piglet — This cutie works search and rescue missions. She also brings comfort to those impacted by disasters with her warm personality. She recently worked the “Camp Fire” that devastated Paradise, California.
Kannon — This beautiful black lab is a seeing-eye dog. He has been a life-saver for his “mom,” enabling her to safely navigate the world and maintain her employment. He even knows when to disobey when listening might endanger mom.
If you are inspired by these pups and others like them, you can vote in round 2 of the process here.
Dogs are known as “man’s best friend” for good reason. They’re loyal, they’re affectionate and with the right training, they can literally save a life. If that doesn’t count as heroism, nothing does. We’d love to hear about your personal canine heroes? Please feel free to share your story in the comments.