5 Hero Dogs and a Human

Awhile back I had the privilege of volunteering at one of the most fun and heartwarming events of the year, the 13th annual HERO Awards in Phoenix, Arizona!  The event benefited the Phoenix county shelter, with proceeds going towards low cost and free spay/neuter services the shelter provides to the community.

Diva, a therapy dog who was honored at the Hero Awards
Diva, an amazing therapy dog who was honored at the Hero Awards
Award winners are animals who have demonstrated outstanding courage, ability to overcome extreme challenges, and the will to survive.  Also honored is one Human Hero, someone who has made an exceptional contribution to the lives of animals.

To celebrate the positive impact animals have on our lives, 5 exceptional Hero Dogs and one Human Hero were honored.  Grab a tissue because you'll be both inspired and moved to tears by their stories!

Diva is a Therapy Dog who, for the past 9 years, has brought joy and healing to hundreds of kids at Phoenix Children's Hospital.   When she's not busy visiting sick children in the hospital, she's working with kids in local schools, helping them improve their reading and writing skills.  Diva was a HUGE hit a the hero Awards, surrounded by adoring fans all evening!  She has the prettiest smile and the most loving temperament.  I loved meeting Diva and talking with her family, especially since my dog Icy and I are also a Therapy Dog team!

The Hero Awards honored 5 exceptional hero dogs and 1 human hero
Me with Diva and her Mom, an incredible woman who serves our community in many ways.
Charlie came into the shelter as a puppy with his fur half gone and his skin torn and itchy.  He had a horrible case of mange.  He was in such bad shape that he was slated for euthanasia!  Lucky for Charlie, a wonderful local rescue group, Medical Animals in Need  (MAIN) rescued him and later found him a loving home with a family that included a seeing eye dog named Kagan. A strong bond formed between the two dogs, they're inseparable and are considered a seeing-eye team!  These dogs and their parents were so sweet, I really enjoyed spending time with them. Charlie was super sweet and never left Kagan's side.

Charlie and his seeing-eye dog companion at the Hero Awards, where 5 hero dogs and 1 human hero were honored
Charlie (left) with Kagan and their parents.  You can just see the unbreakable bond these two dogs have!
On his 10th combat rotation in Afghanistan, Army Ranger SFC Cory Remsburg suffered a traumatic brain injury.  He spent 3 months in a medically induced coma followed by 3 years in hospitals and rehab centers, working to regain speech and movement.  Leo is his service dog, who Cory credits as being one of the most crucial remedies in his recovery.  Leo was himself close to death, on a euthanasia list in North Carolina.  Cory's sister rescued Leo specifically with her brother in mind.  She somehow knew these two, who had both escaped death, would end up healing each other!  

Leo is a beautiful dog with a dark, thick fluffy coat.  Slight flecks of brindle reflected off the lights.  On stage receiving their Hero Award  and pendant for Leo, Cory joked about Leo's breed, saying he did a DNA test because everyone kept asking what kind of dog he was.  According to the DNA test, Leo is a combination of just about every breed of dog known to man, LOL!  Cory has become a celebrity in his own right, traveling extensively, sharing a message of hope and inspiration.  He's even met and been honored by President Obama.  Leo and Cory are both heroes, I'm so glad I had the opportunity to meet them!

One of the wonderful items available in the silent auction was a photo on canvas of Heidi, a Scout dog who served in Viet Nam.  I love this piece, such a beautiful dog!  Decades ago, families donated their dogs to the war effort.  I consider myself to be patriotic but I have to admit, I couldn't possibly give my dog up to go to war!

Ronin, a K9 Officer was fatally shot during pursuit of a gunman who had been threatening local businesses and innocent bystanders. The armed suspect ran through a neighborhood with Ronin and his partner, Officer Zygmont in hot pursuit.  When the gunman was cornered he opened fire, critically wounding Officer Zygmont and killing Ronin.  Ronin is a true hero who made the ultimate sacrifice.  In memory of his K9 partner, Officer Zygmont and his wife formed the non-profit Blue Line K9, which offers support and financial assistance to K9 teams across the country.  I am grateful to both Officer Zygmont and to Ronin for their service to our community.  Rest In Peace, angel Ronin.

Stormy, a gorgeous German Shepherd, was found at a construction site following a severe monsoon.  She was rescued by construction workers from underneath heavy debris.  To their surprise, Stormy wasn't along under there - she had a litter of puppies with her!  They had to be dug out by hand to prevent the structure from collapsing.  Stormy was in bad shape; emaciated and anemic, she had wires deeply embedded in her skin.  If that wasn't bad enough, she had a prolapsed uterus, a belly full of gravel since she had no food, and advanced heartworm disease.  She was given a 25% chance of survival, but she fought hard for herself and her puppies.  She and her puppies ultimately survived and thrived!  Stormy is so sweet and loving, it was a pleasure to meet her and her owner.

I'm holding Ranger, a super sweet dog who had been in the shelter for 6 long months before finding his forever home at the Hero Awards!  Congrats to Ranger and his new Mom!
Dr. Kit Slocum:
The Human Hero award went to "Dr. Kit", a local Veterinarian, for her tireless work helping animals in low income and underserved communities.  Many low income pet owners don't have access to transportation so Dr. Kit bought a mobile RV clinic and drives Vet services directly to them.  By reducing unwanted litters in Phoenix area neighborhoods with high numbers of strays, Dr. Kit has helped reduce the number of animals entering shelters. It's estimated that she has saved approximately 10,000 lives from euthanasia!  That certainly says Hero in my book.

CONGRATULATIONS to these deserving Hero Award recipients!

"Since 2006, Friends of Animal Care and Control has funded over 91,000 surgeries through the Spay Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP) preventing hundreds of thousands unwanted dogs and cats from entering our Valley shelters.  In fact, the ASPCA calculated that every two spay/neuter surgeries performed in Maricopa County, directly reduces euthanasia in our shelters by one dog or cat! This means there is no more cost effective way to save a life than by funding spay & neuter."

"...Since the Spay Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP) was launched in 2006, 55,000 fewer pets have lost their lives in Maricopa County shelters..."
- Friends of Animal Care and Control

This wonderful event, held at the beautiful Montelucia Resort & Spa, was hosted by Friends of Animal Care and Control and sponsored in large part by PetSmart Charities.


Two French Bulldogs said...

Oh boy that is so fantastic
Lily & Edward

M. K. Clinton said...

What an awesome night! You look GORGEOUS!!!! I love Diva's dress. ♥

Anonymous said...

What a fantastic night and such a great event to help the shelter. We need more Dr. Kit's in this world. There would be a lot less animals in shelter and less euthanasia. Great dress too, I might add. I love how everyone was dressed in their bests for the night. And yes, I did go through a couple of tissues on this post. I can't imagine giving my dog up to fight in a war. It was hard enough when my son was a marine, but my dog. I'm with you there Cathy; I'm patriotic but I couldn't image giving up my dog. Thanks for sharing this wonderful evening with us.

Golden Woofs! SUGAR said...

Pawsome event!!! Oh such a Diva dress :-) Golden Woofs

Amanda Yantos said...

What an amazing event! I had no idea this event was happening - I can't believe I didn't hear anything about it!

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

It was so awesome!

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

It really was a wonderful night! Thanks so much for the compliments, you're so sweet!

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

Thanks Suzanne, it was a great night!! Dr. Kit is pretty amazing, she's helped so many animals. My Dad was a Marine too! Please thank your son for his service.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

It was great! Isn't Diva's dress amazing!? She looked so pretty.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

It's a fabulous event that takes place at this time every year! You should check it out sometime, it's such a heartwarming event!

Beth said...

It sounds like a great event! You look lovely too!

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