This year the American Humane Association organized its first ever Hero Dog contest. The awards ceremony was held on October 1st and broadcast on the Hallmark Channel last month. I didn’t catch it on TV, but I finally got around to checking out the website to see who won … and it was Roselle, a guide dog who led Michael Hingson safely down 78 flights of stairs following the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.

Mr. Hingson wrote about the incident:

From the outset, Roselle guided and did her job perfectly. While others in my office saw fire above us, Roselle did not panic. Because of Roselle’s calm demeanor I knew we could evacuate in an orderly manner. She remained focused as we went to the stairwell and traveled down 1,463 stairs to the first floor. Her poise helped me remain calm as we led others down to safety.

Unfortunately, Roselle died over the summer, but I’m sure the people she saved will never forget her bravery.

The other nominees for the Hero Dog Award also deserve recognition for their work:

  • Sadie, a law enforcement/arson dog who has worked approximately 400 fires and conducts around 50 demonstrations a year.
  • Stacey Mae, a therapy dog who delivers stuffed animals and baked goods to people in hospitals and nursing homes.
  • Bino, a military working dog who served as a Narcotics Detection/Patrol K-9 for almost 11 years, was deployed to Iraq for 14 months, served with the Border Patrol, and in his "retirement" is now helping as a post-traumatic stress disorder Demo Service Dog.
  • Sage, a search and rescue dog, who helped in the aftermath of 9/11 and on Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita missions, as well as searching for U.S. soldiers in Iraq and with local missing persons cases. She now inspires cancer survivors, being one herself.
  • Harley, a hearing dog, who has given his partner the gift of self-confidence and a feeling of equality with others, as well teaching the value of taking the time to reflect.
  • Ricochet, a "SURFice" Dog who surfs with people with special needs, encouraging them to focus on their abilities rather than their disabilities.

To see pictures and more information about all of these dogs, or to nominate a dog for the 2012 contest, visit the Hero Dog Awards website.

Dr. Jennifer Coates

Image: deepspacedave / via Shutterstock