Since 2012, the American Humane Association's Hero Dog Awards program has recognized the animals that help humans in ways ranging from the everyday to the extraordinary. One of this year's 24 semi-finalists is Cadence, a 9-year-old black and white Catahoula whose charity partner is Paws & Effect, Des Moines, Iowa.
Cadence is nominated in the Therapy dog category of the Hero Dog Awards contest. Other categories are:
- Arson dogs
- Guide and hearing dogs
- Law-enforcement dogs
- Military dogs
- Search and rescue dogs
- Service dogs
Cadence began her mission as a therapy dog through the Delta Society's Pet Partners program in 2006. With love, patience, and strength, she has helped kids overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Friends describe Cadence as even-tempered, but exuberant.
"She's attracted to children and activity," says handler Nicole Shumate, who is also executive director of Paws & Effect. "She occasionally screams around the agility course—she has a career tally of exactly zero points in agility competitions—but absolutely loves being with kids."
In 2007, Cadence helped to start the Abilities Through Agility program at ChildServe, a non-profit provider of specialized health care to Central Iowa children. There, she helps special needs children reach their rehabilitation and developmental goals through agility activities. Since then, the program has expanded to a number of therapy dogs who touch the hearts of ChildServe children on a weekly basis. Cadence has also broken barriers in the court system, recently helping a special little girl though an extremely difficult trial.
The girl was housed at Youth Emergency Services & Shelter ("YESS"), and was a witness for the prosecution in an emotional case. Cadence helped the victim through the intense, agonizing court processes. Cadence—sensing the girl's vulnerability and unimaginable pain—dutifully curled near her feet each and every day, despite the stress and long hours. The assistant county attorney said, "I requested assistance from Cadence in facilitating communications with a child victim that was having a hard time ... Cadence provided companionship and distraction for the child, allowing the child to move past her negative feelings and work with me to proceed with the case."
Vote for Cadence at this page. Each day until the June 6, 2014 deadline, voters may vote for one dog in each category. Those receiving the most votes will advance to finalist.
According to the Hero Dog Awards website, "every finalist will be presented with a Hero Dog award for their feats of loyalty, bravery, and love, and win $1,500 for a selected charity partner. In addition, one finalist will walk away with top honors as the winning American Hero Dog for 2014, securing an additional $5,000 for their charity partner."