Which Canine Won the 2015 Hero Dog Awards?

November 20, 2015

This article originally appeared on Dr. Mahaney’s Pet-Lebrity News column on Pet360.com as Which Canine Won the 2015 Hero Dog Awards?

hero-dog-awards.lgHave you heard of the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards? If not, I’m going to raise your awareness of this great night celebrating the good deeds done by a variety of dogs serving the betterment of humanity.

I had the fortunate opportunity to attend the 2015 Hero Dog Awards (or HDAs, as every show needs its cool-sounding abbreviation) as a guest of my friend and client Laura Nativo. She uses her skills as a certified professional dog trainer and pet lifestyle expert in her hosting duties on Hallmark Channel’s most watched show, Home & Family. Nativo happened to be a judge of the 2015 HDAs, so I jumped at the opportunity to be her guest.

My last time at the HDAs was in 2012, when Roselle, a guide dog for the blind, won the title. The contending canines are grouped into eight categories: Law Enforcement Dogs, Arson Dogs, Service Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Military Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs, Guide and Hearing Dogs, and Emerging Hero Dogs (the category for “ordinary” dogs who do extraordinary things).

There were many worthy finalists this year, but Harley, the one-eyed Chihuahua from the Emerging Hero Dogs category, took home the crown. Harley has quite a remarkable story of overcoming adversity, according to the Hero Dog Awards website:

“Harley spent 10 years living in a small cage in a puppy mill before he was rescued and found a loving home. His journey of physical and emotional healing inspired a campaign called ‘Harley to the Rescue,’ which has raised the funds to save (and provide medical care for) more than 500 dogs from puppy mills over the past two years. Harley personally goes on these rescue missions; and there is no doubt that Harley is keenly aware of what is happening! There is something indescribable in the way he communicates with the sad and scared dogs. As a spokes-dog against puppy mills, Harley has educated thousands of people, of all ages, about the horrors of the commercial dog breeding industry. Harley makes public appearances at events and schools where he gladly accepts love and attention from everyone. Harley’s grizzled appearance is a testament to the care and nurturing that he had never received. He had issues: a diseased heart, a mouth filled with rot, a fused spine, a broken tail, gnarled toes, and legs that were deformed. And then there is the missing eye – the result of his cage being power-washed with him in it (an all too common practice in puppy mills). All of these conditions were the result of years of horrendous neglect and abuse. Harley is a voice for the thousands of breeding dogs still living in puppy mills, and by winning the ‘Emerging Hero’ award it will draw attention to help further his mission.”

Right before Harley won, I was able to snap a photo of him with NCIS actress Pauley Perrette. Perrette was one of the event’s presenters and is frequently seen championing a variety of causes from animal rescue to human rights.

I got to sit at a table with another 2015 HDA finalist, Dax, a police dog hailing from Ashland, MA, and his human family. Dax has a remarkable tale of saving his owner and handler, officer Chris Alberini, from an assailant holding a shotgun. The audience was also treated to the musical stylings of Vladimir John Ondrasik III, also know as Five for Fighting, who sang his hits, including “100 Years,” and accompanied his tunes with great skill on the piano.

If you couldn’t attend the 2015 HDAs, you can see the coverage on Hallmark Channel on Friday October 30 at 8 p.m. EST, and follow Harley’s adventures on his Facebook page.

Do you have a hero dog of your own? Feel free to share your story in the comments section below.

Thank you for reading this article.  Your constructive comments are welcome (although I may not respond).

Please follow my adventures in veterinary medicine and life via:
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Copyright of this article (2015) is owned by Dr Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr Patrick Mahaney and received in written format.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

TheOldBroad November 23, 2015 at 2:48 PM

Rock on, Harley!

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