By Arden Moore
Sure, I wish I picked the six winning Lotto numbers. Or found out that I was selected by Jeff Bezos for a free trip above Earth inside his Blue Origin rocket.
Time for a reality check. Both are farfetched dreams of mine. However, my biggest down-to-earth prize is priceless. It is being able to share my life with a pair of remarkable dogs answering to the names of Kona and Emma.
Dogs simply make us better people, wouldn’t you agree? And, dogs definitely put the D in diversity when it comes to size, personality and talent.
So, it is fitting that in November, the month in which we traditionally take time to give thanks, two special dog events are happening. And, without surprise, both involve a friend and champion to all dogs — philanthropist Lois Pope.
The Lois Pope L.I.F.E. Foundation once again is sponsoring the American Humane Hero Dog awards with a special ceremony on Nov. 12 at the Eau Palm Beach Resort in Manalapan.
The day before, on Nov. 11, she will reveal the winning name of the new American Military Hero Dog monument at Tri-County Animal Rescue in Boca Raton. The date is fittingly Veterans Day.
To motivate the next generation of pet advocates, she and American Humane President Robin Ganzert dedicated the monument in mid-May. It is meant as a tribute to all dogs who served or are serving in the five branches of the U.S. armed forces.
Since September, Pope’s foundation has encouraged children in elementary and middle schools throughout Palm Beach County to create artwork or videos offering the name they feel is best suited for the monument dog. Students have a chance to win $2,500 for themselves and their schools if their name is selected for a statute that symbolizes military dogs past, present and future.
“It is my hope that with this contest — by naming the courageous canine on the American Military Hero Dog monument — that we remember there are heroes at both ends of the leash,” says Pope. “Dogs have served and sacrificed alongside our troops in wars and conflicts around the globe for more than a century. I felt it was time that they, too, had a permanent monument to honor them for their heroism.”
Hero Dog finalists
And speaking of four-legged heroes, seven remarkable dogs will be honored at the Hero Dog awards gala.
“We are deeply honored that Lois Pope and the Lois Pope L.I.F.E. Foundation are once again serving as platinum presenting sponsor of the American Humane Hero Dog awards,” says Ganzert. “Through her generous longtime support, she has helped save and improve the lives of millions of animals and brought vitally important recognition to the remarkable contributions that animals make in our own lives. We give our heartfelt thanks to Lois Pope and the caring members of the board of the Lois Pope L.I.F.E. Foundation.”
Here are this year’s seven finalists and their categories:
• Law Enforcement and Detection Hero Dog of the Year: K-9 Hansel from Millville, New Jersey. Saved as a pup from a dog-fighting ring, this pit bull is now an accelerant detection dog for the Millville Fire Department.
• Shelter Hero Dog of the Year — Deputy Chance from Cape Coral. This dog was a victim of animal abuse and is now the “spokesdog” for the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.
• Guide/Hearing Hero Dog of the Year — Henna from Albuquerque, New Mexico. She provides a full quality of life for an individual who is deaf and legally blind.
• Military Hero Dog of the Year —SSG Summer from Mt. Airy, Maryland. This 10-year-old Labrador retriever recently retired from the Marines as a police explosive detection dog serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
• Search and Rescue Hero Dog of the Year — Little Man from Oklahoma City. He survived a major tornado as a pup and now works to help find missing people, including those in tornado strikes.
• Service Hero Dog of the Year — Sobee from Holts Summit, Missouri. Sobee was rescued from a shelter two days before a scheduled euthanasia by the K9s on The Front Line nonprofit and now lives with a disabled combat veteran.
• Therapy Hero Dog of the Year —Boone from Hookstown, Pennsylvania. He needs a special wheelchair to be mobile, but thrives as an ambassador for the nonprofit Joey’s P.A.W. (for “prosthetics and wheels”).
The event will be hosted by Emmy-winner Carson Kressley and feature pet-advocating celebrities, including actress Vivica A. Fox, Grammy winner Lisa Loeb, actress Alison Sweeney, the Alex Donner Orchestra and more.
“The Hero Dog awards celebrate America’s often unsung heroes,” says 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.
“I am proud to sponsor this event that is meant not only to honor these magnificent dogs, but to inspire Americans to reflect on the amazing contributions that animals make in our lives each and every day.”
• For more details about the American Humane Hero Dog awards, visit www.americanhumane.org.
• For tickets to the Nov. 12 gala at the Eau, contact Mari Harner at email@example.com. • For more information about the Lois Pope L.I.F.E. Foundation, visit www.life-edu.org.
Arden Moore, founder of FourLeggedLife.com, is an animal behavior consultant, author, speaker and master certified pet-first aid instructor. She hosts Oh Behave! weekly on PetLifeRadio.com. Learn more at www.ardenmoore.com.