21 Remarkable Canines Competing To Become America’s Top Dog


Public Voting Opens to Choose Finalists for 2017 American Humane Hero Dog Awards®

America’s animal lovers have spoken, and after more than a third of a million votes from across the country, 21 courageous canines are advancing to the semifinal rounds of the 2017 American Humane Hero Dog Awards®, presented by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation and broadcast nationally on Hallmark Channel. The heroic hounds were chosen by the American public to advance to the next round from a field of 188 remarkable candidates. The public is now invited to visit www.HeroDogAwards.org between now and June 28 to vote once per day for their favorite in one of the seven Hero Dog categories. The seven finalists will be flown to Los Angeles to take part in the star-studded seventh annual Hero Dog Awards gala on September 16 at the Beverly Hilton, where one will be chosen as the 2017 American Hero Dog, the top honor a dog can receive. This must-watch event for animal lovers will be broadcast in the fall as a two-hour special on Hallmark Channel.

In both the semifinal and final rounds of the competition, the winners will be determined through a combination of votes by the general public and a special celebrity judging panel. The top dogs in each category will win $2,500 for their designated charity partner and the winning 2017 American Hero Dog’s charity partner will receive an additional $5,000 for a grand total of $7,500. Each charity partner is dedicated to advancing the role of dogs in our lives and, as with American Humane, focuses on the importance of the human-animal bond.

The seven categories for 2017 are: Law Enforcement/Arson Dogs, sponsored by the K-9 Courage Program™ from Zoetis; Military Dogs, sponsored by the K-9 Courage Program from Zoetis; Therapy Dogs, sponsored by Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food, the official pet food of the 2017 Hero Dog Awards; Service Dogs, sponsored by Modern Dog magazine; Emerging Hero Dogs, a category that pays tribute to ordinary dogs who do extraordinary things, sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, maker of NexGard® (afoxolaner) Chewables; Search and Rescue Dogs; and Guide/Hearing Dogs.

Over the past six years, Americans have cast millions of votes for more than a thousand dogs, all seeking the coveted title of American Hero Dog. The program reaches more than one billion people each year and draws the support and participation of top celebrity dog lovers from all over the world. Hosts, judges, award presenters, and entertainment acts have included Katharine McPhee, Alison Sweeney, Bindi Irwin, Derek Hough, Michelle Beadle, Victoria Stilwell, Betty White, Whoopi Goldberg, Denise Richards, Gary Sinise, Burt Reynolds, Chelsea Handler, Martin Short, Jewel, Wilson Phillips, John Ondrasik, Carson Kressley, Miranda Lambert, Pauley Perrette, Kristen Chenoweth, Naomi Judd, Lori Loughlin, Lea Thompson, Eric Stonestreet, Fred Willard, Danica McKellar, Bailee Madison, and many, many more.

“For thousands of years, mankind has had a special relationship with dogs, and the American Humane Hero Dog Awards are our way of honoring the best of our best friends,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane president and CEO. “This unique awards show celebrates the unbreakable human-animal bond, which has been a core part of our organization’s mission since 1877.”

“The Hero Dog Awards recognize some of America’s bravest heroes on both ends of the leash,” said philanthropist and presenting sponsor Lois Pope. “From those who defend our country to those who help us heal, guide us, protect us, and help find the lost, every single contender exemplifies the courage and heroism we seek to spotlight in this campaign. Our goal is not only to honor these magnificent dogs but to inspire America to reflect on the outsized contributions that animals make in our lives each and every day.”

Key dates for the 2017 American Humane Hero Dog Awards contest include:

  • Second-round voting: May 17June 28
  • Third-round voting: July 12August 30
  • American Humane Hero Dog Awards event in Los AngelesSeptember 16

Meet the 21 incredible Hero Dog Awards semifinalists!

Here are brief descriptions, written by the hero dogs’ owners/handlers:

Law Enforcement/Arson Dogs category (sponsored by K-9 Courage Program™ from Zoetis)

  • Quincy (Clearwater, FL) Quincy is the only Arson Dog in our county. He is a 9-year-old male and was a rescue dog out of a local shelter. Quincy has assisted all fire departments in Pinellas County and multiple surrounding counties. Being one of the few arson dogs in the state, he also gets to assist the state fire marshal’s office. Quincy has been an asset when assisting other fire departments in the county. We have been together since he was 6 months old when he was rescued from the shelter as a family pet. He amazed us with his nose at such a young age and we knew he was destined for greatness. Quincy enjoys going to schools and doing shows with all the kids. When we do programs for the kids and we set off the smoke alarm, he howls and runs to the door and the kids love that. It teaches them that when the alarm sounds they need to get out. Quincy loves to work and thinks it is a game when we go to fires. The Clearwater Fire Department supports us in every way and makes sure Quincy is well taken care of at all times.
  • cain american humane hero dog

    Cain (Lake Odessa, MI)

    Cain (Lake Odessa, MI) – The mission of Spectrum Health’s Police Authority K-9 Team is not much different than that of public police departments: to serve and protect. Our dogs accomplish this in addition to helping the communities we serve, using a different approach: the health and healing approach. They help make our commitment to “improve the health of the communities we serve” not just a motto, but a reality. This is why I feel Cain exemplifies the title of Hero, and why he should be selected as the American Hero Dog. Cain is a 4-year-old German Shepherd who patrols Spectrum Health and Helen DeVos Children’s Hospitals in Grand Rapids, MI. One minute, he’s snuggled in a hospital bed with a child, eliciting a long absent smile. The next minute, he’s running to a situation in another part of the complex. I’ve seen firsthand the positive impact that Cain makes on patients, staff, and visitors as we patrol together. Many parents have cried tears of joy after Cain tenderly cheers up their child. I have seen a man who was unable to move, reach up and stroke Cain’s head, causing everyone to break down in tears during that moment. I have also witnessed tears of absolution by patients who know that Cain’s visit may be their last. Cain knows this too, and is gentle to the end. However, don’t let Cain’s soft exterior fool you. Not only is he able to deter issues before they start, he is also able to apprehend criminals and detect explosives. In the end, he is a hero every day in the eyes of those he meets.

  • Ice (Olympia, WA) – In the early hours of July 21, 2016 a team of officers from the U.S. Forest Service and deputies from the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office were investigating an illegal marijuana garden on public lands within the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. Two suspects attempted to flee and Ice was deployed to capture one of the suspects. As Ice was apprehending the suspect, the suspect used a large knife to stab Ice twice in the chest as well as the face and muzzle. Despite Ice’s serious wounds, Ice continued to apprehend the suspect until the suspect was taken into custody. Ice’s bravery likely saved the other officers from getting stabbed or injured. Despite his trauma, Ice didn’t let out a whine or whimper. Ice’s handler and the team immediately bandaged and dressed his wounds. As the area was extremely rugged and remote, a California Highway Patrol helicopter was dispatched. Ice’s handler and other team members then took turns carrying Ice approximately three-quarters of a mile over rough terrain and through dense vegetation to a suitable landing location. Ice was airlifted to VCA Asher Animal Hospital in Redding, CA and taken immediately into surgery where the doctors and staff were able to repair his wounds. Ice has since made a full recovery and has returned to duty. This wasn’t Ice’s first scrape, and though he is a tough-as-nails working dog, Ice also has an extraordinary ability to interact and socialize with people. Both of these amazing abilities make Ice a truly special dog and partner.

Emerging Hero Dogs category (sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, maker of NexGard® (afoxolaner) Chewables)

  • MacKenzie (Hilton, NY) – MacKenzie uniquely represents an emerging hero because she provides care for baby animals with birth defects as well as educates people (of all ages). On December 31, 2013, this amazing dog named MacKenzie (Kenz for short) was born with a cleft palate. She was tube fed from when she was one day old for almost a year and survived bouts of aspiration pneumonia. I have never seen such a will to live. She was sick, but always concerned with the baby animals at the rescue. When she was almost one year old, she had life-saving cleft palate surgery. She could eat and drink on her own and focus on what she was born to do. Most of the animals that we rescue are babies that can’t stay with their mother due to their medical needs. Kenz takes an interest in each baby from day one (regardless of species or size). She plays nurse and cleans, comforts, and cuddles them. She also acts as their mom and teaches them how to socialize, play, and have good manners. Kenzie’s other important emerging hero role is to interact with children at schools so they learn to be open minded toward animals and people with physical differences. They learn kindness, patience, and that you can make a difference in the world no matter how small you are. Kenz also spreads awareness about animals with disabilities to people of all ages at different animal events. In the past, the trend was to euthanize animals born with a disability. She’s working on changing that! MacKenzie is a true hero, a fighter from birth with a mission to love and teach.
  • Josh (Sun Valley, CA) – Josh was born with a cleft palate and taken into the shelter to be euthanized at birth. He lay at the shelter, hungry and cold with his umbilical cord still attached. Two well-known rescue groups, Paw Works and Leave No Paws Behind, joined paws to save him. The call came in to me, asking if I would take him. I said yes. He arrived cold and stiff. I worked on him around the clock. After 48 hours, he started to fight and thrive. I started his own Facebook page for him, and he quickly became an internet sensation, proving to the world that birth defects don’t need to be a death sentence. Josh and I ended up landing the cover of Modern Dog magazine. It was then that I knew he had a purpose. He inspired me to start a non-profit, naming it Josh & His Critters. Josh is three years old, and in just one year, he has raised over $100,000 to save the worst of the worst-off on death row, including animals with birth defects, terminal animals, and animals in critical need of emergency care, etc. Josh also saves cats, rats, turtles, birds, gophers, pigs, lambs, goats, and rabbits and we find them loving homes. Josh will save anything with a heartbeat. Josh continues to rehabilitate all creatures great and small. Josh’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. He’s made it into the local paper, and been in the news twice for his ongoing efforts here in Los Angeles, CA. Josh will continue to educate the world that all animals deserve a second chance at life, no matter how young, how old, sick, or injured they are.
  • Abigail (Lehigh Acres, FL) – Abigail is a gal that did not ask for the life she was forced to live. Abigail and her bonnets have changed the world. Abigail is a HERO because of the lesson she teaches about forgiveness and dog fighting. Abigail and her Bonnets have brought awareness to the importance of ending dog fighting. A 1-year-old pit mix, she was found as a stray in Miami FL. Brockton drove to Miami to bring her to LIFE Rescue. Upon her arrival and after further examinations we suspected she suffered from a life of dog fighting. She was anemic, she was infested with ticks, and scars covered her bloody head, neck, back legs, and half her face was missing. She smelled so bad because of infections, and was covered in dried mud. One side of her face was missing and her skin had been ripped off right down to the ear drum. Abigail had only spent a day at the shelter before she was brought to the rescue’s vet clinic. Her injuries were at least a week old and she almost lost her life. Abigail had weeks of hospitalization and daily bandage changes. How would she live a normal life? Would she need rehab? She had several major surgeries with extensive skin grafts. Day Two of her journey is when her “mission” began.TJ, her vet and her vet tech Destiny were changing her bandages. The way they held the gauze looked like a bow. Since then we called her bandages “her bonnets.” People started sending bonnets from all over the world. Abigail is on Facebook at “Bonnets for Abigail” with over 12,000 followers who love her. Abigail didn’t need therapy. Abigail is the therapy. She loves people and dogs. She has a mission to continue to teach forgiveness and end dog fighting.

Guide/Hearing Dogs category

  • Pierce (Palm Bay, FL) – I’ve used a cane for the past 25 years, and when I first took hold of the harness of my new Fidelco guide dog, I felt free.”– Don O., Fidelco clientWhile serving with the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division during the first Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm), Don sustained an injury that eventually claimed his vision. In the more than two decades that followed, Don navigated through life with his white cane, along with the support of his wife, Peggy, and two children. As an experienced cane traveler who moved about the world quite well, Don had not seriously considered getting a guide dog until one day he now remembers as a turning point in his journey. Last year, on a family vacation, Don and his son, Jordan, set out to explore historical monuments together. At the conclusion of the trip, Don asked Jordan to describe his favorite part of the tour to which the twelve-year-old responded, “Dad, I wasn’t paying much attention…I wanted to make sure you didn’t fall.” Heartbroken at this admission, Don knew Jordan needed the freedom to be a kid and not a sighted guide. And the payoff in having his guide dog, “Pierce,” has been even greater than relieving this burden from his son; Don is experiencing life with refreshed independence and freedom. His wife, Peggy, shares, “I have seen a new confidence in Don and I can’t thank Fidelco enough for their part in it. Don’s guide dog is a very loving companion and dedicated to his work. We have all fallen in love.”
  • Kannon (Madison, WI) – Kannon & I are an unforgettable duo. Her sophisticated Japanese name reflects the true meaning of the treasure she offers. It means observing for others, the sounds and cries of the world. She empowers me with confidence, independence and courage; opening doors of opportunity to survive and thrive in the sighted world. With her I can step out of my comfort zone and try new things. Together we stand up for compassion, diversity, justice, inclusion, solidarity, unity & peace. She is: An adventurer, brave, communicator, devoted, exuberant, friend, guide, hero, intelligently disobedient, joyous, kiss-giver, loyal, mentor, navigator, obedient, protective, queenly, reliable, smart, trustworthy, unconditionally loving, volunteer, watchful, xenial, young-at-heart, zippy.  As Lions, we are called to serve one another in our community. To commemorate our centennial year, we: Rang Salvation Army bells; Sold dinner tickets & rolled Pfeffernusse cookies at Good Shepherd Parish; Encouraged ETF colleagues to take action on their health and well-being; Tutored students in literacy at Lincoln Elementary School; Walked in the Crazy Legs Classic, Puppy Up, Spartan Stampede and national Kidney Foundation runs; Promoted preserving sight/preventing blindness by influencing individuals to get dilated eye exams and to give the gift of sight/life by becoming an eye, organ & tissue donor at Madison Mallards Games; and more to come in the future. Pieced together, we make a difference in the jigsaw puzzle of humanity.
  • Swifty (Cape Coral, FL)

    Swifty (Cape Coral, FL) – I am nominating my retired Guide Dog, Swifty, with whom I worked together as a team for eight memorable years. Swifty was my first Guide Dog and when I received him I did not know the future we would have together. Besides the amazing guide work he provided me for our time together he also gave me confidence, motivation, and a bond unlike any other. Swifty was and still is a special dog and met his job duties above and beyond any other guide dog I knew and know today. Swifty is my hero, not only for guiding me and keeping me safe, but for saving me from a life of loneliness and depression. He gave me the ability to be independent, to get out in the world and be a part of society. He would happily put that harness on and take me anywhere. Even though he is now retired he is currently working as a mentor for my new guide dog, Bug. Swifty has accepted Bug into his home and spends many hours with her sharing his secrets and helping her keep me safe and remain independent. I have had Bug for about nine months now and these two dogs are inseparable and a true gift from god. Swifty deserves to be a Hero Dog because of his dedication to me and now dedication to Bug.

Military Dogs category (sponsored by K-9 Courage Program™ from Zoetis)

  • Adak (St. Cloud, MN) – Adak is a 13-year-old German Shepherd. His longevity and accomplishments as an explosive detection dog are unmatched. During his career he has provided support to dignitaries, celebrities and events across more than 10 states and three countries. He was a Contract Working Dog (CWD) for the U.S. State Department (DoS) in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Army, Ft. McCoy and for a private business, Dogs for Defense Inc. (D4D). Adak’s first assignment was in Iraq in 2006. Adak was assigned to support the U.S. embassy and dignitaries. Adak performed a sweep of the Baghdad Central Station prior to the arrival of a dignitary. While performing the sweep Adak alerted to a vehicle in the area, canceling the event. On January 14, 2008, the Kabul Serena Hotel was subjected to a complex terror attack. During the attack numerous guests were trapped in the hotel. Adak’s was the first K-9 team to arrive, with terrorists still inside the hotel. Adak led a team of Americans who went room to room inside while terrorists were still active. Adak came across dismembered, deceased victims during his search and performed flawlessly. Over 20 people were evacuated, a total of six people died, including one American.  In 2009 Adak was conducting a sweep of the Ministry of Agriculture when he had an alert. The Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit arrived and identified the threat as a mortar shell. Working for D4D gave Adak constant opportunities to do unique detection work across the U.S. until he was 13. His transition from war to family member was incredible.
  • Coffee (Waynesville, MO) – My name is Coffee and from the age of two until just before my twelfth birthday I trained and served in the United States Army as a Specialized Search Dog.  In April of 2006, I was paired with my one and only partner with whom I would spend the next 10 years traveling wherever we were needed. I started my military service at Lackland Airforce Base where both my partner and I learned to become a team and understand our responsibilities to one another.  My first duty station was Fort Eustis, Virginia, where we worked rigorously to prepare for our first trip to Afghanistan in 2007. That deployment to Afghanistan taught me that my role was bigger than just finding bombs.  Every night after working I would just sit around with all the soldiers and let them pet me and play fetch.  I wasn’t only their guardian but I was also their friend and a reminder for many of home. Both my partner and I spent two more tours in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011 and 2013 to 2014.  I never forgot the role I played beyond finding explosives and watching out for the soldiers who I unselfishly chose to protect.  No matter how long a mission was or how tired I may have been I always found time to enjoy play time with those who needed it. While I have had the privilege of supporting countless secret service missions, sweeps for numerous VIP’s, and executing frequent law enforcement call outs, the time spent with my partner and the soldiers will always be my fondest memories
  • Suma L469 (Houston, TX) – Hi, my name is Suma L469. I retired from the U.S Air Force on October 17, 2014 after nine faithful years of service. I worked hard as dual-purpose Patrol Explosive Detection Dog. I dedicated my first five years overseas, mostly in Afghanistan, protecting base camps and going outside the wire to look for improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. I was responsible for saving for between 150-200 military and civilian lives during my career as a warrior with paws. My last four years I spent at Lackland Air Force Base training the younger dogs for their careers in the military. I served my country and I only asked to be showed love and kindness. In return, I would lay down my life for yours!

Search and Rescue Dogs category

  • Luca (Grand Prairie, TX) – On March 15, 2016, Fort Worth Police were dispatched to a missing endangered male. Two elderly men visited a large salvage yard when one suddenly realized that his elderly friend with Alzheimer’s was missing. After a brief search, he realized he needed help and called police. Many officers responded due to the age/medical condition of the missing man. After an extensive search, Sgt. Medrano asked Officer Brock if Luca would be of any help. Luca is Officer Brock’s retired Search-and-Rescue (SAR) German Shepherd, who was 10 years old at the time of this call. Luca excelled in area, water, avalanche and forest/desert searches. Officer Brock believed Luca excelled in this and it meant a helicopter ride, which Luca loved. Officer Brock picked Luca up from his home and Luca fell back into his training and used his SAR skills to search for the missing man. Luca alerted at an opening of brush at the Trinity River, which led to a very steep hill followed by a steep dropoff. Due to terrain, a PD helicopter responded and immediately observed the lost man in the river, stuck in waist-high mud on the opposite bank of the river where Luca alerted. Officers shed their gear, swam across the river, rescued the man and brought him to safety. Had Luca not tracked the man’s trail and located him, the man would have drowned in the river, which still had very cold, high, fast-paced water or succumbed to the temperature. Luca’s love and  dedication to SAR shows the resilience of older dogs and how training doesn’t go away just because they retire.
  • Abby (Jamestown, RI) – Abby is an 11-year-old bloodhound trained to find missing humans and pets. Through her career she’s reunited over 100 pets alive and well and given closure to four families. There are two rescues that stand out among the many Abby has been on. One was with Ivy, a missing cat, who was owned by a 91-year-old gentleman who was devastated that Ivy was missing. Since Ivy went missing the man was losing weight, which concerned his doctors, friends and family. There was an urgent need to reunite the two. Abby did just that. Abby never gave up searching for three months! Abby keeps in touch with Ivy and her human friend (95 now). The other case was Bruschi, who was lost during back-to-back snow storms, while his owners were stuck at the airport. Abby and her team found Bruschi a white Lab, laying down, with his fur frozen to the ground. Bruschi was dying, slowly freezing to death. Abby and the team had to break him from the ground to save him. He could not walk so they carried him to the waiting truck and slowly warmed him. A call was made to his owners, still stuck at airport, to say he was home safe, which made them cry in happiness!
  • Piglet (Lancaster, CA) – “Piglet” is a 6-year-old Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog. Rigorously trained and certified to find human remains on land and in water, Piglet and handler Lori Wells, are dedicated volunteers serving many communities. They’re frequently called to assist local law enforcement in their search for the missing. Lori and Piglet commit hundreds of hours annually to training and testing. This ensures they’re always ready when called to search. Piglet has built a reputation with law enforcement throughout California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah, not only for her unswerving work ethic and talented nose, but also for her infectious “smile.” She makes friends at PR events and fundraisers. Everyone wants to “Kiss the Pig.” But it’s out in the field where she’s most effective, an unparalleled search resource and comfort to the families she’s helping. An example was on a mission where she deployed in a remote wilderness area to find a missing father and husband. After long hours in the field, Piglet found the subject who, sadly, was deceased. Though this is not the outcome wished for on any search, Piglet’s diligence and tenacity in making the find allowed the wife and nine children the answers needed to move forward. She did the same on a lake. Piglet was called and we deployed on day eight of the search and located the subject. Like her smile, Piglet doesn’t fade or give up!

Service Dogs category (sponsored by Modern Dog)

  • Atlas the Wonder Dog (Dayton, OH) – After coming home from Iraq, struggling with PTSD and dealing with the effects of a TBI from a roadside bomb, I was virtually lost, locked in my own personal prison. I began getting treatment while still Active Duty, which consisted of talk therapy and a single prescription. After getting out of the Marines, I continued treatment with the VA system, and nearly a decade later, the “treatment” consisted of more than eight different prescriptions totaling more than 33 pills a day.…my life felt very sad, hazy, and hopeless……I was lost. Until I found Atlas. Atlas is not only my service dog but my lifesaver. Atlas is a grounding and solid presence when flashbacks, hypervigilance, and the lingering effects of war begin again to creep up my spine. Atlas has been trained to sense these changes in me and then acts to redirect my attention and focus during these overwhelming instances. Whether it is to nudge my hand if I am getting anxious, wake me up in the throes of a nightmare or just stand behind me so I know someone has my back. With his presence, I am able to take an active, positive role in my children’s lives. Atlas has not only completely changed my life, but as the “face” of, and inspiration behind the creation of The Battle Buddy Foundation, he is also a beacon of hope for so many others struggling to cope. A regal reminder that there is hope, that there IS a way to find yourself again after combat and trauma, and that your pains and struggles have value.
  • Roxy Tucker (Waynesville, NC) – My name is Justin. I am 30 years old and I am an Iraq war veteran with PTSD. I use Roxy for a PTSD therapy dog. I’ve had Roxy since she’s been 11 weeks old and now she’s three. Roxy is truly a life saver. Without her I am sure I’d be dead. She’s saved me from a few scary PTSD moments in life that could have been fatal. She is a very loving and caring soul with lots of joy to spread. that’s why I wanted to submit my entry. God bless all our troops and our veterans!
  • Earle (Danvers, MA) – Earle is my link to independence. He does the typical tasks of a Service Dog, including fetching dropped items, opening doors and calling elevators. Earle travels with me internationally, flying in the cabin with me and helping me to negotiate new environments while educating the public about the role of service dogs and the importance of public access. In addition to the tasks that Earle performs, he also goes to work with me. As a staff member on a memory care unit, Earle not only allows me to do my job, but he assists our residents in many ways. Earle is a friendly, comforting presence when our residents are lonely or confused. He encourages his friends to leave their apartments and socialize with him, and their neighbors. Earle has dried many tears, comforted his elderly friends during loss or illness, and provided endless opportunity for laughter, fun and play. Everyone agrees that Earle is their best pal and makes waking up to face the day worthwhile. He is a special dog with a special heart, and shares his love worldwide.

Therapy Dogs category (sponsored by Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food)

  • JJ (Albany, OR) – JJ is a six-and-a-half-year-old golden retriever female who has been a therapy dog from the tender age of one. She is prone to sassiness and constantly in search of bacon, while often confused with a male Irish Setter of unknown origin. JJ serves as the primary therapy dog for our inpatient hospice facility, where I am a hospice nurse. She works three 12-hour shifts each week, providing comfort to patients, families, staff and volunteers, passing out hugs along the way. During her off time, JJ also is a HOPE Crisis Response canine, responding with me to national and local crises while offering support and comfort. JJ also serves as a virtual therapy dog, helping others through her stories and antics. We balance heart-wrenching stories with more lighthearted moments to educate and support not only families we have served in hospice, but the public. End of life is a very difficult topic for people and we’ve found stories including animals can be a non-threatening bridge to the conversation that everyone will eventually need to face. In an unexpected turn, patients and families now are relating to JJ in a different way. This last December, she was diagnosed with lymphoma. She is currently in clinical remission after starting chemotherapy. The staff at the veterinary teaching hospital continue to be charmed by her hugs and love while she receives her treatment, including a radiology tech whose mother we cared for at hospice. Once a therapy dog, always a therapy dog.
  • Norbert (Los Angeles, CA)

    Norbert (Los Angeles, CA) – Norbert, my three-and-a-half pound registered therapy dog, has a simple gift. He makes people smile. Not just a few people, but over a million people around the world. As I discovered when I adopted this tiny mixed breed dog eight years ago, though small, he has a huge heart. Through his work in hospitals, nursing homes, on social media, television, and in publications, Norbert has become a global symbol of goodness of spirit, care, and compassion. Norbert embodies the idea that you don’t have to be big to make a big difference in the world. His kind of hero brings out the best in others despite their hardships, challenges or differences. I know because he receives thousands of email and social media messages every week from all kinds of people. Here are some other ways Norbert has made a difference in the world: By donating over 4,000 ‘Norbert Plush Toys’ to children in need, advocating for the work of therapy dogs everywhere, donating hundreds of copies of his picture books to spread their positive messages, raising money for homeless animals, visiting schools and special needs programs, and by selflessly giving his time and energy. Norbert’s current primary place of volunteer is at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. The world has embraced and taken to heart this little dog’s giving nature. Norbert makes it cool to be kind. His love and acceptance of all is exactly the kind of therapy that is needed in our world today. High-Five Norbert!

  • Aladdin (Haddonfield, NJ) – Aladdin was found severely emaciated in 2013. Both of his back legs and tail had been broken. He was missing 12 teeth and had open wounds. I foster emaciated dogs and he came to me. From the moment I met him, his little tail never stopped wagging, despite his horrific condition. Aladdin had a rough recovery but he overcame the obstacles put before him. He greeted every person with a lot of hope and despite the abuse he suffered he trusted enough to learn that no one would hurt him again. Within the year he was a certified therapy dog bringing love to everyone he meets. Aladdin is a Ronald McDonald House Ambassador dog, his favorite duty! He visits schools doing a humane education, anti-bullying program. He is a trained crisis response dog and spent a week in Orlando last year after the shooting doing therapy visits and fundraising for the Victims Fund. He works with the Philadelphia Police fundraising for the Fallen Officers Fund and attending the events they do with special needs children. He is an ambassador dog for Tito’s Vodka for Dog People Campaign and together they have raised over 300,000 for rescues and shelters all over. He also works with veterans and PACT for Animals. Most importantly he is a model/ambassador for Show Your Soft Side, a nationwide animal abuse campaign and he is the spokesdog for the rescue I work with, Lilo’s Promise. Lilo’s takes in medical needs dogs like Aladdin. Heroes come in all shapes & sizes, Aladdin has taught me that each time I watch him work.

Source American Humane


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