October 7, 2009
Second Annual Dogs of Valor Awards
Meet the winners
We are pleased to announce the winners of the Second Annual Dogs of Valor Awards. Our panel of celebrity judges, including Benji, Ron Burns, Randy Pobst, and Judge David Young, chose the Second Annual Valor Dog of the Year and Runners Up. You chose the People's Hero winner!
Scroll through the image slider to see this year's winning dogs. Visit the Hall of Fame to meet other past Dogs of Valor winners.
Valor Dog of the Year
Owners: The Cardon Family
After an exhausting stretch of cancer treatment, 82-year-old Elwood Cardon wanted to get away. He knew his family worried about him, so one night he decided to quietly slip out of his daughter's house with his dog, Baby. On the way to his mountain home, Elwood became disoriented and took the wrong turn. As he turned the car around, his tires slipped off the road, and the SUV plummeted 20 feet downhill where it wedged upside down between two trees. Pinned inside, Elwood honked the horn and screamed for help. No one came. The passenger side window had shattered, and as it grew colder the 5-year old Great Dane snuggled with Elwood, keeping him warm and alert. Several times she crawled out of the SUV to seek help, but each time she returned alone. Ten hours later, Baby finally got the attention of one of the remote area's few residents. The woman followed the dog, and when she saw the wreckage she quickly called for help. Fortunately, firefighters were able to pull Elwood to safety. He was treated for a cracked spine. Learn more about Baby's heroic efforts as Elwood tells the story in his own words. Update: Elwood Cardon passed away on January 28, 2009 at his home in Jemez Springs, N.M. The HSUS wishes to extend our deepest sympathy to his family.
Owner: Roberta Trawick
Oklahoma City, OK
Roberta Trawick and her family were sitting on the couch when an armed man busted through the front door, yelling for them to get down on the floor. With that, D-boy, the family's pit bull, ran in from another room and charged towards the assailant.Before he could reach him though, the man shot D-boy in the head. D-boy continued to go after the man, who shot two more times, leaving D-boy with a total of 3 gunshot wounds. With his attack foiled, the man fled the home. The family got up and called for help. When officers arrived, they took the young dog to a local emergency veterinary center. Amazingly, with intense medical treatment, D-boy survived the terrifying ordeal.
Hero (originally "Boo")
Owner: Dennis Redline
Jim Thorpe, Penn.
Looking for a friend to help him through a rough time, Dennis Redline went to his local animal shelter to adopt a dog. He asked for the dog who had been there the longest and was introduced to a middle-aged German shepherd and bloodhound mix. He was perfect. On a cold January day, Dennis took Boo out for a midday walk. As they walked along an isolated stretch between 2 buildings, Dennis slipped and fell, hitting his head so hard that he dropped Boo's leash and lost consciousness. Boo immediately started running through the apartment complex, barking. Neighbors called the police, and several hours later they arrived to find Boo. The frantic dog led them straight to Dennis who was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was placed in intensive care and remained in a coma for 6 days. When he woke, he immediately asked about Boo. After the accident, Boo was taken to the shelter and because they didn't know his name, they dubbed him "Hero". Dennis's cousin claimed the dog, permanently renamed "Hero", and cared for him during Dennis's long recovery. Update: On December 1, 2008, Hero peacefully passed away with Dennis by his side. The HSUS wishes to extend are deepest sympathy to his family.
Owner: Frances Gippert
As Roy Monie climbed the ladder to the second story of his rental property to take some measurements, he had an uneasy feeling and decided he should go back down. As the 61-year-old started his descent down the ladder he lost his balance and fell to the ground. Meanwhile, three houses down, Charley barked and paced back and forth. Even though it was still an hour before the West Highland terrier's afternoon walk, his guardian, Frances Gippert, gave in and took him outside. As they headed out on their normal path, Charley pulled Frances the opposite way. She followed as Charley led her down the street and directly to a man who was lying next to a house in the shrubs. It was Roy. He was semi-conscious, had a swollen and bruised head, and was foaming at the mouth. Frances rushed home to call 911. Help arrived just in time, as doctors discovered that Roy was in critical condition and faced a very long recovery. His brain was hemorraging, and he had a collapsed lung and a cracked rib.
Owners: The Bailey Family
When 12-year-old Tony Bailey stepped into the Platte River he was expecting the water to reach his waist as it always had. Instead, he was caught off guard by the river's depth and speed and was immediately pulled below the water's surface. He tried to swim, but the current was much too strong. Panicked, Tony cried for help. His family was only 20 feet away, but Tony's cry was too muffled for them to hear. Luckily, their dog Jake, a 4-year-old black Labrador retriever, was nearby. He recognized the boy's distress and immediately leapt into the river which drew his family's attention. They ran to the river bank and watched as Jake swam downstream to Tony, allowed the boy to wrap his arms around his neck, and then swam back upstream to safety. At that point, the family was able to throw Tony a net and help him to shore. Once thought of as an untrainable dog who likes to dig holes, Jake's unexpected rescue earned him new respect.