River – owned by Julie Cowan
My dog River, a yellow Labrador Retriever, to me is a Hero Dog. He is now retired from Urban Search & Rescue at 13 years of age.
At 10 weeks old River began the life of a trained search & rescue dog.
River took to the search component very quickly and always displayed many attributes that saw him develop into one of the best search dogs in the world (as declared by International trainers!). He put his life on the line on a number of occasions going into burnt buildings to try and locate any remains for Police Forensic cases.
River has had a sterling career; cases involving the detection of human remains where he was called to locate after a house fire. At one residence in South East Melbourne, Victoria River was to search the entire 3 stories of a burnt out home. He declared the site clear of any human remains with the Police & Fire Service personnel convinced that a person was still in the house. A week later, after extensive searches, the person in question was located interstate.
The next major deployment was Black Saturday Bush Fires in February 2009. River worked tirelessly in Kinglake and surrounding districts to locate human remains quickly and efficiently for Police Forensics for 4 days straight. His successful finds provided both recovery agencies and families a quick and final report. A successful extensive search in areas of buildings at Marysville and surrounding districts completed his deployment for 6 days after the massive disaster.
For Rivers tireless work, he received the National Emergency Medal which saw him being the first canine ever to receive this accolade! River was used on many occasions since the 2009 disaster and was always ready to assist the community and rescue agencies as a volunteer canine with no cost to community or any agencies.
In 2006, River & I were nominated to carry the Commonwealth Games Baton Relay by the Emergency Services. The application was successful, River and I carried the Baton through Mount Eliza on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria which was a huge honor for all community based volunteers.
River is a multi tasked trained search & rescue dog being able to locate and alert to missing people in a wilderness rescue and in or under a collapsed building.
He’s certainly my hero dog and is living a quiet life after his 11 years of dedication to saving lives and giving families and agencies a finality of lives recovered or lost.
Lena-Bear – owned by Kathryn DeSousa
I am 24 years old. Since high school I have suffered depression and anxiety and was diagnosed with BPD. I always struggled getting through any amount of stress and always felt very alone.
Two and a half years ago I decided to get my favourite breed of Puppy, a groodle ! I flew to Tasmania to meet my pup at 5 weeks and then she flew to come live with me at 9 weeks. I welcomed home Lena-Bear!
Since having Lena she has given my life purpose. If I am crying, she will sit with me and endeavour to lick my tears away or give me cuddles. She has made me laugh and smile in ways I could of never imagined! If I ever question my existence I just have to look at her and she makes me level headed again.
She will forever be my hero and my reason for living. I can’t imagine anything or anyone ever making me as happy as my best friend Lena-Bear.
Jack – owned by Vicky Randi
Jack works as a Narcotics detection dog at a Drug rehabilitation center. He loves his job and loves playing every night searching for his toy ( drug odors), he loves the searching game but not as much as he loves the thrill of the find because it is then he knows his handler will be as excited as he and give him loads of pats and fun play. When Jack finds an odor he thumps his bum down hard and looks up at his handler with a huge and very proud smile as if to say,” I found it, I am clever, bring on the fun and games”.
Although Jack is a detection dog at the rehab and has no doubt saved many lives with his finds, I feel like he is working also as a therapy dog also as he has bonded with the students attending the rehab and it is clear that he helps them get through their hard times by allowing them to pad and cuddle him.
Jack works two weeks on and then comes back home for two weeks to enjoy just being the mischievous, get up to no good dog that he loves being. One day Jack came across a red belly black snake and thought he would make friends with him. He was bitten while hold the snake in his mouth over 20 times around ears, mouth even on his tongue. The vet gave up on his survival and told us there was nothing he could do to save Jack, but we took Jack from the vets and made the three hour drive ( in 2 hours!) to Essendon emergency hospital. When we arrived carrying a limp Jack blood coming out of every facet, it was like something out of a movie, stretchers, doctors a whole team were there ready to work on Jack. Many blood transfusions, doses and doses of anti-venom and 6 days and $20,000 later HE SURVIVED!. One of doctors told us that he went to check on Jack who was sedated with tubes coming out of everywhere to find jack had pulled out the tubes, chewed them up, created other Chaos in the room ( normal for Jack!). He asked if we taught him to sit and shake hands and we replied,” No because he is not a common pet or trick dog, why?” The doctor said that when he went over to him, Jack sat, looked at Doctor and extended his paw as if to shake Doctors hand and say, ” Thank you for saving my life so I can continue to Save other people’s Lives”.
Jack is now retired from working, but he is still saving lives and getting lots of loving, as now he travels from school to school throughout Victoria with the Dangers of Drugs Awareness Program where he demonstrates his abilities to find drug odours keeping the children enthusiastic and listening to the message being delivered which is to, “Be the friend who says No to drugs”
The Dangers of Drugs program is run through Incentive Community Education
Charitable Foundation bsb 063 505 Account 10285763. www.ice-foundation.org.au
Donations are always needed and support always welcomed.
Harper, Ryder and Lyric – owned by Alisha Watson
Our dogs have made a huge impact in ours and many others lives. 2005 my hubs ab had a major work accident which required many surgeries, lots of rehab and eventually he lost his leg because of it all. Our dogs played a huge part in his and many others rehab. They would not leave his side at home and when he was in rehab learning to walk again using a prosthetic leg I took the dogs in all the time. They always brought a smile so so many the facility from the nursing staff to even patients that could barely move.
This made an impact on us too, to how we could help using our dogs. So since then many of our dogs have become therapy dogs. One of our dogs even use to get called the people’s dog (like the people’s princess – princess Di). Our dogs now continue this tradition, Ryder and Lyric have gone into hospices and rehab facilities, esp when our parents were at the end stages of their lives. It is good that it not only brings live and happiness to our family in there but to so many more around. I am a nurse as my full time job, and I know the impact our animals have to so many. Even just out and about we love to help educate people about dogs (especially our large breed as ours are all Great Danes) also teach how not to fear them but how to love them and how they love to help others. So many people know our big boy Ryder, not because of his size or because they have seen him on TV or social media but because he is go gentle and layer back and so well behaved. They are truely fantastic ambassadors for our breed but the smiles they put on faces is worth more to me than anything else in this world
Jack – owned by Emma Smith
Our greyhound Jack is a very special dog, not just to our family, but to the wider community. As soon as we adopted Jack we realised he was the perfect advocate for greyhounds as pets, and he has attended many promotional events where his sweet, outgoing, gentle personality attracted families and quickly convinced them to adopt a greyhound into their family.
In February 2015 Jack was diagnosed with bone cancer and had his front leg amputated, followed by four rounds of chemotherapy. Being a tri-pod has just made Jack that much more special! In 2016, after being given a clean bill of health, Jack was assessed as a delta therapy dog, passing with flying colours! Jack and I have been visiting a local primary school once a week for almost 12 months where the year one students read to Jack as part of Delta Dog’s Classroom Canines program. The teacher has reported that Jack’s visits have increased the student’s confidence, encouraged reading and literacy skills, while improving class attendance.
Having only three legs, Jack is the perfect poster dog for people and pets with special needs. His personality encourages people to see his abilities rather than his disability. This has been a wonderful learning experience for students to understand that even though Jack is different, he can still do all the things other dogs can do, and is still a valuable member of the community. Our hope is that by accepting a dog with special needs, the children can accept other people with special needs in the community, seeing them for their abilities rather than their disabilities.
Jack has recently become a little famous in our community after appearing on the local news (see attached link). His story has been shared over 1,000 times and he is quite the star! Walking into school each week, we are greeted by students and staff calling out “hi Jack!” and he absolutely loves the attention!
We adore our special boy and so do many others in our community, along with most people who have the pleasure of meeting him!
Jimmy – owned by Shelly Ringrose
Jimmy, my sons Autism Assistance Dog is my sons and my hero. He has changed our lives for the better in that my son can now safely access the community, has much less meltdowns and anxiety, provides his with friendship and comfort and has brought such joy and happiness to our lives in the 16 months hes been with us.
Hunter – owned by Tracey Lewis
My male long coat German Shepherd “Hunter” is a hero dog in lots of ways. First and foremost he is a member of our family and we love him dearly.
Hunter is a therapy dog and he and I visit a nursing home fortnightly where the residents love to see and stroke him. Dementia patients remember his name and he always puts smiles on their faces. He also works in a school program called “Classroom Canines “where he listens to young children read. The children selected for the program struggle with confidence so reading to Hunter increases that and therefore, their ability to read.
We also belong to a local obedience dog training club and Hunter just loves puppies. He has, in the past, been asked to work with babies who are fearful of larger dogs. His gentle nature helps to increase their confidence and minimise the chances of fear aggression as they get older.
Hunter has also done some media work with his photo being used on 2 brands of dog food packaging. A well-known car company has also used him for advertising.
We participate in public events educating the public in responsible dog ownership and promoting our breed. This involves children with a fear of large dogs. After 5 minutes with Hunter, they are patting him and giving cuddles and Hunter doesn’t mind a bit!!
Hunter does a lot of community work through his therapy work, which he absolutely loves. That makes him “my hero” 💙
Banzai! and Lexus – owned by David Wyatt
Very soon I was hooked, Banzai!, Lexus and I spent winter of 2016 competing in races throughout parts of Australia as well as fundraising for Soldier On Australia, and raising awareness of the struggles Australian veterans and their families are facing when diagnosed with PTSD as I have been. In 2016 we managed to raise over $8000 for the charity who helps our defence force veterans when they leave the defence force.
Banzai! and Lexus are great little ambassadors for me and what I do, and it’s a great way for me to leave behind my PTSD while they still get to have fun.
We are continuing our work in 2017, as well as racing, although on a smaller scale due to work commitments, with my little fluffy ambassadors right there by side.
Bundy – owned by Mariane Anderson
Bundy had seven days to find a home – his previous owners had already booked him in to be euthanized if he didn’t find a home. Mikey, then 9, was suffering vincristine neuropathy from his chemo treatments for leukaemia and was struggling to walk. We adopted Bundy and suddenly Mikey had a reason to get out and walk. His improvement was astounding. Fast forward two years and Mikey has nearly finished treatment and we couldn’t imagine life without Bundy. He really is our hero!
Team Golden Oldies – owned by Lisa Domeny
Team Golden Oldies is a group of eight senior dogs that my husband and I have adopted. They are well known in our town for providing love and joy to all who cross their path.
Through their Facebook page “Team Golden Oldies” and their award winning children’s book series they spread love and kindness to all they meet. They visit two nursing homes weekly, preschools, schools and respite centers. They also give out Free Hugs in our local town. Ages of the dogs range from 16+ to 10 years. We recently adopted Poppy approximate age 3-5years, an ex puppy farm dog. Although much younger she has obviously had a VERY HARD life. We have only had her a couple of months. Poppy allowed me to touch her voluntarily for the first time after having her 9 weeks. It will be a very long journey until she learns to trust and to overcome her traumatic past.
The Team Golden Oldies books provide positive and uplifting stories for young readers. ALL profits from the sale of the books are donated to various dog rescues to help senior dogs in need. So far we have donated over $4000 to dog rescues both here in Australia and overseas. Three of the books have won first place in book awards in the USA. Two more books, Sally learns to Dance and Sally finds her voice, will be released in the coming months.
The aim of the Facebook page is to encourage people to think about adopting senior dogs. There are so many older dogs in pounds and shelters looking for a forever home. Yes our time with them may not be as long but it is not about quantity but quality. It is so very true that saving one dog may not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world is changed forever. If just one senior dog is adopted because of our page then I feel we have made a small but significant difference.
I hope you will consider the Team as Everyday Dog Heroes… because we sure do!
Athena – owned by Tayla Hamilton