Henna — Guide/Hearing
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
I am Deaf and Blind. Henna, my amazing guide dog, has given me the freedom of travel and saves my life on a daily basis. She is an extension of my body, becoming my eyes and ears. Last year, while simply crossing a familiar intersection, I was nearly crushed by the trailer of an 18 wheeler. It was a sunny warm spring day and I was waiting with Henna to cross the road. After a few moments, Henna’s ear flick indicated it was our turn. I gave the forward command and we started crossing towards the opposite corner. We had reached the midway point when Henna suddenly backed up. She reversed so fast I knew instantly something was wrong. Her movement was strong, sure and deliberate while ensuring I was not going to trip or fall.
When Henna slowed enough for me to take in my surroundings, I could see a large truck was now completing a left turn in front of us. No more than five feet away, the trailer wheels rumbled where Henna and I were only moments ago.
After the trailer passed, she guided me safely across to the opposite curb without me prompting her. Despite me being in shock from almost being hit Henna continued to perform her job perfectly. To this day, I can still see the trailer’s reflective strips in front of me and know that this was only one of many times she saved my life while allowing me freedom.
She continues to confidently guide me and acting as if it had never happened. I can almost see in her face and hear in her voice, “I got you mom! Just follow me.”
Sobee — Service
Location: Holts Summit, Missouri
Living hopelessly and suffering from human neglect with only two days left on the euthanasia list in an overcrowded shelter in Georgia to living a purposeful life with my combat veteran in Missouri, my name is Sobee.
Sobee was rescued by K9’s on the Front Line in 2016, and began her training as a service dog for a veteran seeking rescue to complete the daily tasks that each of us commonly engage. Jason Howe, a disabled combat veteran in MO was secretly fighting internal demons with PTSD and addiction after returning from two deployments in the U.S. Navy. While Jason spiraled into a dark place, he found himself in Maine talking with a high school friend that introduced him to Dr. Hagen ____ of K9’s on the Front Line, non-profit organization that rescues/trains service dogs for combat veterans.
Sobee and Jason were paired together in 2016, and an instant bond was built between each other. Jason began to feel the weight lifting off his chest, he now had a sense of responsibility with Sobee by his side. Jason would put two feet on the ground each day instead of covering up in bed and self-medicating, he felt some self-worth. Sobee is trained to assist Jason with panic attacks, and watch over Jason when in public places. Sobee has also been the reason Jason has found himself assisting and training service dogs for K9’s on the Front Line-Missouri chapter. The bonded pair are paying it forward to other veterans, and have successfully trained ___ service dogs to date
Boone — Therapy
Location: Butler, Pennsylvania
Boone survived heartbreaking cruelty as a puppy, which resulted in the loss of his back legs. His life changed when he was adopted by a family with a soft spot for special needs pets. His family had him fitted with a wheelchair to improve his mobility, and he has been a dog on a mission ever since. A mission to spread his joy to others with his infectious smile and story of resilience.
His sweet nature and enthusiasm for life despite his challenges, make him a perfect fit for his new profession as a therapy dog. They saw when you love what you do, you never work a day in your life, and that is the truth for Boone. Children light up when he enters the room.
Boone is an ambassador for the nonprofit, Joey’s P.A.W. (Prosthetics and Wheels). So far, the charity has provided mobility devices to over 700 dogs in need both in Pittsburgh, across the country, and even internationally. Boone and Joey’s P.A.W. hope to improve both the outcome for dogs with mobility issues in shelters and rescues across the country, as well as perceptions about their adoptability.
Boone deserves the title of American Hero Dog because he inspires those around him every day to overcome the obstacles that life throws at them. When he is not spreading joy as a therapy dog, he is working to make life better for dogs with mobility issues in shelters. Just look at his smile. He is going to change the world!
Summer — Military
Location: Mount Airy, Maryland
My retired canine partner’s name is Staff Sergeant Summer, a 10-year old female Labrador. Summer retired from the Marines Corps in 2013 as a Military Working Dog and proud War Dog. She most recently retired as a Police Explosive Detection Dog where she served proudly for 7 years.
While deployed she conducted a substantial number of routine patrols, searching and positively identifying countless weapons caches and improvised explosive devices, swept, and cleared routes for the troops and involved in limitless fire fights with insurgents. Summer put her life on the line to protect, defend and saved countless troops lives. As a result of these types of exposures in the war zone environment and other traumatic events Summer experienced in Iraq & Afghanistan, was diagnosed with canine PTSD in December 2015. She copes with this diagnosis daily.
For her heroic, extraordinary valor and service, Staff Sergeant Summer received the Lois K Pope K9 Medal of Courage in May 2018 by demonstrating exceptional valor and service to our Country. She received the PDSA Commendation Award in July 2017 for her unparalleled devotion and enrichment to all that served with her.
In retirement, SSG Summer continues to serve her country and fellow Veterans by visiting them at Charlotte Hall Veterans Home, located in St. Mary’s County Maryland. The Veterans who reside at that location truly admire her story of service and enjoy the love and pets given as she walks through their rooms.
K-9 Hansel — Law Enforcement and Detection
Location: Millville, New Jersey
K-9 Hansel was only 7 weeks old when he was seized from an alleged dog fighting ring in Ontario, Canada. He never fought. He along with 20 other Pitbulls were slated for euthanasia. After a 2 year long battle with Ontario courts, Hansel was then transferred to Dogs Playing for Life down in Florida. Throw Away Dogs project was then notified of a potential working dog candidate for their program. Hansel was accepted into the program for more training. Millville Fire Department was looking for an accelerant detection K-9, Hansel was the perfect fit.
Hansel and I went through 16 weeks of scent training, we were later certified as an arson detection team. Hansel is the first Pitbull certified in accelerant detection in the United States. Hansel can recognize 14 different ignitable liquid odors. He really is the best partner and a rock star. He was also honored as one of the dogs of the year featured on the CW network. If you google K-9 Hansel you can see all the obstacles he has overcome, it will also tell his story in more detail. Thank you for reading and considering Hansel.
Little Man — Search and Rescue
Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
All dogs are heroes, but Little Man takes it to a new level. NASAR certified he ranges off-leash for a specific human scent or the scent of any human, Articles or human remains. His joyous spirit and amazing work ethic have won him friends with law enforcement and SAR personnel in multiple states. But his story did not begin well.
In 2013, a monster tornado ground the City of Moore, OK into rubble. The carnage was terrible. Molly Gibb, a professional SAR volunteer, worked with Animal Control and American Humane‘s rescue team to serve the animal response needs. 5 days after the storm a tiny pit bull puppy was found buried, a miracle he survived. He came to be known as Little Man. When he went unclaimed Molly adopted him as he had something special. His intelligence, drive, curiosity, athleticism and upbeat nature made him a great candidate for search and rescue.
Little Man’s trainability, determination and affinity for people epitomizes just what can make many pit bulls great working dogs. He balances SAR training and deploying with serving as a neutral helper dog for shelter and adjudicated dogs in need and participating in youth programs.
For him searching is the great game, but in reality it can mean life or death. In 2020 he found a missing traumatized assault victim alive, bringing his life to a full circle. He has grown from tornado survivor to hero fully blossomed in public service, eagerly paying it forward helping families and communities in crisis and graciously welcoming their love in return.
Deputy Chance — Shelter
Location: Cape Coral, Florida
Chance was a victim of animal abuse in Lee County, Florida. The Lee County Sheriff’s Office investigated the animal cruelty case and use forensics evidence to identify a suspect and subsequently get a conviction. Chance was adopted by Lieutenant Castellon and deputized by Sheriff Carmine Marceno.
Deputy Chance is the spokes dog for the Public Affairs Unit at the Sheriff’s Office. Deputy Chance was also titled as the Good Will Ambassador by County Commissioners. He regularly visits schools, children hospitals, and community events. He promotes goodwill and has become an advocate against animal cruelty and helps promote adoption of shelter pets. Deputy Chance is the face of the Deputy Dogs Pets on Patrol program in Lee County, Florida.