My Service Dog, Jade

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A little late but: In Honor Of Veterans' Day

It's important to remember our Nation's heroes on Veterans' Day, and sometimes our Nation's heroes are those furry, four -legged kind. 

Gabe, the yellow Lab is one of these heroes!

FORT JACKSON, S.C. (Oct. 11, 2012) -- Gabe, a retired military dog who completed morethan 200 combat missions in Iraq, was named American Hero Dog of 2012 last weekend at the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards in Los Angeles.

The retired military dog spent several years sniffing out insurgent bombs, guns and ammunition in Iraq with his handler, Sgt. 1st Class Chuck Shuck, a drill sergeant leader at Fort Jackson's Drill Sergeant School. 
"Winning the award was an amazing feeling because I knew that many Soldiers were going to benefit from the $15,000 we just won," Shuck said. "Looking out at the crowd, who gave Gabe a standing ovation, was also amazing. Seeing Betty White and many other celebrities honor Gabe was a moment I will never forget. Having the support of Fort Jackson and Gabe fans in all 50 states and 22 countries was the key to victory. Every vote counted and we surely appreciate it."

Gabe won $5,000 for his charity in the previous round of competition, and another $10,000 from last weekend's win. When the contest began earlier in the year, there were 359 dogs competing in eight categories, including therapy dogs, law enforcement dogs, emerging hero dogs, service dogs, guide dogs, hearing dogs, military dogs and search and rescue dogs.

The pool of contestants was eventually whittled down to eight finalists, who appeared at last weekend's awards ceremony at The Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles. 

Gabe's charity is the United States War Dogs Association, which provides care packages for deployed Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and their K-9 partners. These packages include ear muffs and dog booties for the paws of the dogs. They also help with the expenses of military working dog adoptions. 

The winner was selected by a panel that included Whoopi Goldberg, Kristen Chenoweth and the handlers and owners of last year's eight finalists. The seven runners-up each won $5,000 for a designated charity.

The ceremony, hosted by Chenoweth, will be broadcast Nov. 8, on Hallmark Channel.

"We will be visiting all the Fort Jackson schools in November and December with Gabe's medals and trophy so the kids can get some pictures with him," Shuck said.

Watch This Video: Veteran Hero Dogs

Another Hero Dog

On her 14th birthday, Shanna Wilkinson of Magna receives a Shetland Sheepdog puppy. She names the dog Holly, and plans to train the animal for agility competitions and sheepherding.
Several years pass. Shanna starts suffering seizures, a very scary proposition because the seizures can floor Shanna without warning. But even before doctors deliver the official diagnosis of epilepsy, Holly the Sheltie sheepdog somewhat miraculously develops the ability to alert Shanna roughly five minutes before an oncoming seizure hits.
Fast-forward to 2012: the inseparable pair of Holly and Shanna sits poolside at the glitzy Beverly Hills Hilton for Holly’s 12th birthday party. Several of the people in attendance also bring their dogs to the special celebration, replete with a cake the hotel chef specially crafted to be safe for both human and canine consumption.
Holly’s birthday hubbub occurred last month in conjunction with the Second Annual Hero Dog Awards, a star-studded gala that brought Holly and seven other “hero dogs” to Hollywood. Taped before a live audience on Oct. 6, the 2012 Hero Dog Awards premieres Thursday at 8 p.m. on the Hallmark Channel.
Owing to her uncanny ability to sense Shanna’s seizures ahead of time, Holly was the show’s resident service dog. The event also recognized seven other categories of dogs: therapy, military, law enforcement, hearing, guide, search-and-rescue and emerging hero.
“It was really neat to be able to honor Holly, because she is an older service dog that has done so much for me,” Wilkinson said. “I enjoyed sharing with the world the amazing things that Holly has accomplished in her 12 years.”
During their “normal lives” in Utah, Shanna and Holly regularly visit schools to teach students about the importance of service dogs.
“Service dogs are life-changing friends,” Wilkinson said. “They’re always there, and they’re able to do things that a human caretaker is not able to do. They’re security; they’re a constant support in the person’s life that needs them. It’s amazing how they always know exactly what their (master) needs, and are able to accommodate that. …
“Holly is beyond smart. She knows things before I know them. It would be so interesting to be able to get inside her head, because she figures things out so quickly. It’s so interesting to watch her learn and think; she’s such an independent thinker, and she knows how to problem-solve. She knows what needs to be done, and she knows how to do it.”
Actress Kristin Chenoweth hosted the Hero Dog Awards. The 90-minute broadcast includes musical guest Jewel and celebrity presenters Betty White, Denise Richards, Joey Lawrence, Naomi Judd, Whoopi Goldberg and Pauley Perrette — the actress best known for her turn as a forensic specialist in the CBS drama “NCIS.”
“The whole experience was memorable, something I’ll want to remember forever — but I think my favorite part was meeting Pauley Perrette,” Wilkinson confessed. “She’s one of my favorite actresses.”