The 2019 American-Humane Hero Dog Awards airs tonight, October 21, 2019 at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central on the Hallmark channel. The description for tonight’s event reads “Bestselling author Beth Stern and James Denton co-host the 2019 American Humane Hero Dog Awards, a star-studded annual celebration honoring outstanding working dogs from around the country.”
This year there are seven finalists for the Hero Dog Award: Sergeant Yeager, Jeanie, Gus, Leader Dog Lady, Piglet, Antonio and Dax. Although all seven dogs (plus many, many more) are worthy of the award, only one pupper will be chosen tonight. Read on for details and backstories on each of the finalists below:
Dax has been with the Lake County (IL) Sheriff’s Office for over four years, and has successfully helped apprehend over 70 suspects during his time with the department. According to the Hallmark website, Dax has also been accountable for tracking and finding dozens of missing or endangered children and adults and has helped uncover narcotics in more than 100 cases. Dax was also deployed to help track down a dangerous criminal who forced his way into a home and violently choked a woman, found another armed criminal who was hiding out in an attic, and helped capture a robbery suspect, even after the suspect had struck Dax several times.
Alice is a service dog who alerts her human of oncoming seizures and keeps him safe every single day. Antonio, Alice’s owner and best friend, was shot in the head when he was just 9-years-old after a man opened fire into his parent’s car. Antonio spent 18 days in a coma and has had five brain surgeries in the years following the incident, and half of Antonio’s brain is now covered by an artificial skull. In October of 2016, Antonio was paired Alice from Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs in Florida, and the two have been inseparable since. Without Alice to alert him of an oncoming spell, he could have a fatal, life-threatening fall. Antonio battles seizures, migraines, balance issues, episodes and more, and Alice is a constant support through it all.
Piglet, an 8-year-old Catahoula Leopard Dog, is a veteran Search & Rescue dog and is trained and certified to help families in crisis. Piglet recently helped locate missing family members and victims of the deadly Camp Fire in 2018, and has continued to bring answers and closure to grieving families since. According to the Hallmark site, she helps track people on land and in water, and has located subjects of searches after human search parties found no luck. She has a bubbly personality when she isn’t hard at work, and loves making new friends and charming them with her big, sweet smile and pale blue eyes.
Leader Dog Lady
Leader Lady Dog is a sweet and caring guide dog for her legally blind owner. She travels the world with her human and educates others on the importance of having a guide dog, while also giving her human more confidence and independence. Dawn Rudolph, Leader Lady Dog’s owner, told Hallmark that she “sees the world through Leader Dog Lady’s eyes,” and that there is nothing she can’t do with her guide dog by her side. “I’m more social and more comfortable being out in public, people ask me questions about Leader Dog Lady’s job! I love and trust her more than people,” Rudolph told Hallmark.
Gus had a rough start to life, but that hasn’t ruined his spirits or deterred him from living life to the fullest. Gus was found walking down a busy street with a head so severely swollen, he was barely recognizable as a dog. A shoe lace was tied so tightly around his throat that it sliced through his flesh into his neck, almost to the bone. Since he was rescued, Gus’ story has helped shed light on the plight of homeless dogs and animals around the world. “His innocence and sweetness transcends cultural differences and indifference to the homeless dog crisis in Houston and other cities facing the same situation,” the site states.
Jeanie was once a homeless, crippled dog living on the streets in south Louisiana before she was rescued. She had to have a deformed front leg removed, which significantly boosted her quality of life and gave a purpose: to help others. Jeanie now works for the Children’s Advocacy Center, where she helps comfort children being questioned by detectives in physical and sexual abuse cases, violent crimes and homicides. She and her owner are avid volunteers and travel to hospitals, schools, nursing homes and veterans’ homes, where Jeanie bonds with fellow amputees. She has helped comfort terrified students after a school shooting, calm a scared child who witnessed a murder/suicide, and has helped bring happiness and joy to confused and depressed Dementia patients.
Sergeant Yeager was an Improvised Explosive Detection Dog with the USMC and has performed several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. During his three combat tours, Yeager participated in over 100 patrols, and was tasked with clearing routes for his fellow Marines, according to Hallmark. He unfortunately lost part of his ear after suffering shrapnel wounds from an IED and was awarded a Purple Heart for his injuries. His handler, Lance Cpl. Abraham Tarwoe, tragically died in the same attack. Sgt. Yeager has since been adopted by another Marine family, and is now an ambassador for the Project K-9 Hero Foundation. Although he is starting to show signs of aging, he has not lost his infinitely sweet disposition or spirit, according to his family.
Tune in tonight to catch all of the sweet pupper finalists on the American-Humane Hero Dog Awards at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central on the Hallmark channel.