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A Tribute to Canine Heroes

by Coach Lilly

Merriam-Webster defines “hero” as “a person admired for achievements and noble qualities, one who shows great courage.” We think that this definition should also include dogs admired for their nobility and great courage! Canine heroes help people every day. They can be athletic and strong, loving and loyal, and they bravely serve the people they love. They truly make the world a better place, and today at we want to celebrate some of these dog heroes.

Search and Rescue Dogs
To the rescue! Search and rescue dogs work together with law enforcement officers and other handlers to help track down missing people. These dogs can help with search and rescue efforts for missing hikers in the wilderness and for people missing in an earthquake, building collapse, or other disaster. Dogs like St. Bernards, German Shepherds, and Labrador retrievers can be avalanche dogs and find people trapped under up to 15 feet of snow. Search and rescue dogs work by using their amazing sense of smell to track human scent, and thanks to their skills and dedication, they save lives.

Sled Dogs
Speaking of rescues, one of the most dramatic rescues in dog hero history was achieved by several teams of sled dogs, one of them led by a Siberian husky named Balto, who crossed a frosty tundra to bring a desperately-needed diphtheria antitoxin to the people of Nome, Alaska. Today, there is a statue of Balto in New York City’s Central Park. Sled dogs are still used in some rural arctic communities to transport mail, food, and other supplies between towns.

Guide Dogs
Sometimes known as seeing eye dogs, guide dogs are heroes because they lead and assist visually impaired people, giving them greater mobility and independence. Having a guide dog can also provide emotional and psychological benefits to the visually impaired person, such as reduced anxiety, depression, and loneliness. There are even stories of guide dogs saving their owners’ lives, leading them out of harm’s way during a disaster.

Police Dogs
Police dogs are known in some countries as “K9s” (get it?). These dogs receive special training to help with police and other law enforcement efforts. They even have graduation ceremonies! The Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police have a tradition of naming their canines after law enforcement officers who lost their lives. At the graduation ceremony for these canines, they get to meet the families of their namesake. It is a very touching experience for everyone involved. These police canines live at home with their human police officer partner. They develop a strong bond with each other, which is important when they face dangerous situations.


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