Every year, the American Humane Association holds the Hero Dog Awards. These awards honor the year's bravest, most heroic acts by members of the canine family. These awards help shed light on all the good that dogs can do in this world, for each other and for people.
So how does it work? The AHA's awards are broken 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 last category is for "ordinary" dogs who do extraordinary things. This category is the category that is voted on by the public on their website. The winners in each category are flown to Hollywood (with their humans in tow, of course) to attend the annual Hero Dog Awards gala, where they get the full treatment! The dogs are featured in video tributes, presented with award statues, and even get to walk the red carpet! What I want to know is if they get to wear designer tuxes and dresses...
So each year, the dogs not only receive an award in their own categories, but officially are in the running to be the Top American Hero Dog for the following year.
The "Top Dog" is chosen from the eight previous winners the year before, which pits all the categories against each other to find the bravest dog. This forces voters to take into consideration all different aspects and think outside the box as to why a dog should win.
This year's 8 nominations for "Top Dog" were Hudson, from the Therapy Dogs category; Axel, from the Service Dogs category; Glory, from the Arson Dogs category; Dax, from the Law Enforcement Dogs category; Chara, from the Guide/Hearing Dogs category; Rambo, from the Military Dogs category; Harley, from the Emerging Hero Dogs category and (another) Glory, from the Search and Rescue Dogs category.
So who won the whole thing? Drumroll please for...
Harley, from the Emerging Hero Dogs category! Harley proves that you don't have to be a service dog or military dog to be brave (though they're all brave too, of course!) So, in honor of his win, here's a little on Harley:
Harley is a Chihuahua mix from Berthoud, Colorado. He was rescued from a small cage in a puppy mill when he was 10 years old, and certainly has made the most of his new leash on life. An organization was started to help him and dogs like him through the emotional and physical healing process after this kind of ordeal. Because of his ten-year imprisonment, Harley had a diseased heart, a mouth filled with rot, a fused spine, a broken tail, gnarled toes, and legs that were deformed. But the organization he is now a face for, "Harley to the Rescue" has helped heal him and hundreds of other dogs. Harley has received this award for all the good he does by being the "spokesdog" for such a life-altering organization. He has helped raise awareness about the cruelty in puppy mills, and has only one eye to prove it. Practices like power-washing cages when dogs are still in them are all-too-common in puppy mills, causing dogs like Harley to lose one or both eyes and sustain other physical injuries. But "Harley to the Rescue" is helping change all of that!
So, congrats, Harley! It's well-deserved.