Meet 5 Amazing Hero Dogs

Hero Dogs
Meet 5 Amazing Hero Dogs
These courageous canines will warm your heart and bring a tear to your eye


For many of us, our dogs are our best friends, confidantes, and comfort. But for some, they are daily miracle workers and team members, transforming and saving lives; it’s these dogs the American Humane Hero Dog Awards sets out to honour, bringing attention to the “life-changing, life-saving power of the human-animal bond,” says Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane president and CEO. “All of our semifinalists are heroes who exemplify the courage and heroism we seek to spotlight...We hope that their accomplishments not only bring much-deserved attention to these courageous canines, but inspire America to reflect on the outsized contributions that animals make in our lives every day.”

This year saw 408 dogs nominated for the Hero Dog Awards. After nearly half a million votes, 21 remarkable dogs advanced to the semi-final rounds. Another round of voting will determine the top dog in each category—Guide/Hearing, Military, Law Enforcement, Search and Rescue, Service, Shelter, and Therapy—and the finalists will be featured on the Hallmark Channel this fall. The star-studded feel-good Hero Dog Awards special airs in conjunction with Hallmark Channel’s Adoption Ever After initiative, which aims to empty shelters and end the epidemic of pet homelessness—especially fitting as many of these dogs were rescued. Here we profile six of the amazing canine semi-finalists.  

1. Amy Sherwood + Dolly Pawton, Cardiac Alert Dog

“Dolly Pawton is my cardiac alert dog, trained to alert if my blood pressure drops or heart rate rises to an unsafe level, writes Amy Sherwood of Naples, Maine. Being confined to a wheelchair due to multiple medical conditions has been difficult, to say the least. At times, my body will physically not allow me to do everyday tasks. I try to remain as active as my body will allow. With Dolly's help I am able to do that. Before having a service dog, I went out very little but Dolly changed that. She helps me to function without having to depend on others. Dolly helps in every aspect of my life, including reducing my social anxiety. I was a victim of domestic violence which caused PTSD. I struggled to get out of bed, not just because of my health but because my self-confidence was horrible. Because of my fears, it was much easier and safer for me to stay home. People have no idea the pain I was in before Dolly. Living with so many medical issues along with PTSD takes a real toll on me both physically and emotionally. I wake up with nightmares, terrified to go back to bed but now I have Dolly right by my side to keep me safe...She is truly my most crucial medical equipment with a loving, beating heart. I don't know what I would do without her in my life. She is my hero.”


“I was in despair after my injuries. I needed a helper. What I received was a fur guardian angel.”


2. Lisa Edge + Noah, Anti-Bullying Dog

“What would you do if you were a pup born without eyes and used a wheelchair due to handicapped back legs?” queries Lisa Edge of Mineral Point, Wisconsin. “You become the world's most beloved anti-bullying dog, and an ambassador for blind and handicapped animals!”

“This is Noah, a pup who travels to schools with lessons about acceptance, tolerance, disabilities, and kindness,” she writes. “He is an outstanding visual for kids to see that it's okay to be different, just like he is! Known as ‘The Anti-Bullying Pup,’ Noah sends a strong message that it's never okay to pick on people who may have disabilities, look or dress differently, or have different beliefs. Rescued by Saving K9 Lives, given a Muffin's Halo to protect his head, and a wheelchair donated by Mango on a Mission, Noah has proven to the world that even with handicaps, he can do anything a ‘normal’ pup can do....just a little differently. When he's not in the classroom, you can find Noah at nursing homes, freely giving his love to seniors. His innate ability to love makes him a favourite guest. He also enjoys skiing on the slopes of Wisconsin with custom skis to fit his wheelchair! Noah has been a semi-finalist in the American Humane Hero Dog Awards in 2016, 2017, and 2018. He has been featured in People magazine, interviewed by Inside Edition, named a Wisconsin Hero Dog, and chosen as ASPCA Dog of the Year 2018-19 for the work he does in schools. Noah can show you a thousand reasons why he was spared from certain death. He is a champion for the ‘underdog,’ as he, himself, is one. Roll on, little guy!” 

3. Penn Street + Beethoven, Service Dog

"I suffer from Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS),” shares Penn Street of Loveland, Colorado. “SJS burns you alive from the inside out. At age nine, 75 percent of my body was covered in second- and third-degree burns. My parents were told that if I survived I would be blind, deaf, permanently on a feeding tube, and would never be able to breathe on my own. Boy, were they wrong! Not only did I survive, but I also lived. Yes, my eyes, ears, lungs, heart, etc. don't work great all the time, but it does not keep me from being the best person I can possibly be. Beethoven fills in the gaps so that all my broken parts are whole. 

“Service Dog? Beethoven is the definition of a service dog. Each morning he nudges me a few minutes before my alarm goes off. He waits patiently as I get my painful body moving. He stands in front of the stairs until I find the railing and we begin our day. He guides me to the bus to head to work at the non-profit No Barriers. In the office he greets everyone making sure their workday starts off with a smile. When we are not working for No Barriers we are volunteering for the Lions. We visit clubs and share our story inspiring them to continue to be Knights of the Blind. Beethoven shakes everyone's hand who donates. Beethoven is my hero every moment of every day. Beethoven is a Guide Dog because I cannot see, but he is so much more to me and everyone who meets him.”


“I have no regrets about losing my hearing; I would trade my ears for Aura any day.”


4. Gretchen Evans + Aura, Hearing Service Dog

“Aura is a trained hearing service dog,” writes Gretchen Evans of Brunswick, Maine. “She became my ears after I lost my hearing in a rocket attack in Afghanistan. “I was in despair after my injuries. I needed a helper. What I received was a fur guardian angel. She has restored my independence. I went from being a blown-up deaf person to a person who now feels safe and secure in the world. She never has a day off and I rely on her to keep me safe. She provides me with the confidence I need to interact in the world. She has allowed me to pursue my passions and purpose in life. I have no regrets about losing my hearing; I would trade my ears for Aura any day. She is happy to work for me, displaying undying loyalty. She knows I am deaf but loves me anyway. Always by my side, head up and ready for anything. She is my hope. I am forever grateful to her. There is not a medication or a therapy that could do for me what Aura does for me every day. The photograph (seen at at left) of Aura was taken on the very first day I received her. I immediately felt her love flow through her leash right into my heart. She looks at me like I am the best person in the world. We hope to continue to be ambassadors for people with hearing loss. She has changed how I see and feel about the world. Aura is the epitome of a hero, putting others before herself, ensuring my safety over hers, and providing her constant service to me, asking nothing in return. We will continue to hike, explore, travel, and enjoy all the world has to offer. She is my most sacred companion.” 

5. Jason Howe + Sobee, Service Dog 

“Sobee is a four-year-old rescue who was in a kill shelter in Georgia,” shares Jason Howe of Holt’s Summit, Missouri. “She was two days away from being euthanized when the organization K9s On the Front Line rescued her and gave her to me. I am a combat veteran who struggles with PTSD and am a recovering addict. I began self-medicating after returning home from two deployments. I was living in Missouri and had no place to go except to keep digging my grave. With one last effort to have a good life, I got on a bus and traveled to Maine where I grew up. After returning to Maine, I ran into an old high school friend who had a service dog. I asked him if it helped and he said it saved him. He put me in contact with K9s On the Front Line and this is when my life changed. The founder, Dr. Hagen Blaszyk, took me under his wing and assured me everything was going to be just fine as I had an army of support with me now. When they gave me Sobee, it was an instant bond. I began getting outside, going for walks, and opening my curtains. I was beginning to see the world again because of a dog? Yes, because of a dog. When I’m having a panic attack, Sobee is trained to bring me back to the present moment and back to reality. If we are out in public, Sobee is trained to watch my back. Because of Sobee, I was able to start a chapter of K9s On the Front Line in Missouri, paying it forward for veterans. Sobee is a true Hero Dog or I’d be buried!”

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