For thousands of years, dogs have protected us, comforted us, and given us their unconditional love. Now, once again, thanks to a national effort capturing the hearts and minds of millions of dog-loving Americans, it’s time to recognize the remarkable ways our best friends improve – and even save – our lives.
Tonight at 8 pm ET/7C, Hallmark Channel will premiere the 2016 American Humane Hero Dog Awards™, presented by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation. You’ll see the amazing, funny and sometimes heartbreaking stories of eight courageous canines whose heroic exploits will touch your heart in an emotional two-hour special leading up to the moment when we reveal the name of the top American Hero Dog for 2016. Be sure to tune in and root for your favorite in this star-studded awards gala hosted by Beth Stern and James Denton at the Beverly Hilton and featuring special performances by Katharine McPhee.
Today, please meet the first of America’s eight most heroic hounds for 2016, Service Dog “Gander”:
Gander was saved from a Colorado shelter, and was rescued by a women’s prison program in Denver, Colorado for obedience training. He was then trained by Freedom Service Dogs in Englewood, Colorado. It was there in September 2012 that his handler and Gander became a team. They have not spent one day apart since then and he credits Gander with literally saving his life. In 2014, Gander was the first mixed breed dog to win the American Kennel Club “Award for Canine Excellence.” Gander is on a mission. He travels the United States – 36 states so far – to encourage education and awareness for PTS, veteran suicide, service dogs, and persons with visible and invisible disabilities. While traveling, the team performs Planned Acts of Community Kindness (PACKS), and fundraising. They have been instrumental in helping to raise a million dollars for numerous veterans’ groups, veterans, service dog charities, and individuals in need. They sponsored the country’s first service dog education conference, and have given hundreds of presentations to schools and community organizations. The team created a collection of inspirational dog stories entitled, “In Dogs We Trust.” They love to visit hospitals, USOs and community events as service dog ambassadors.
Now THAT’S a hero dog!