Hero Dog Spotlight

Each year, we honor five deserving dogs with an AKC Humane Fund Award for Canine Excellence (ACE). Do you know a dog that deserves to be recognized? Send in an ACE nomination form by June 1st.

Here’s one ACE dog’s story:

2012 Search and Rescue Honoree: Keahi, a Belgian Tervuren owned and handled by Kristi Smith of Peoria, AZ




Seven-year-old Keahi (key-ah-hee; Hawaiian for “fire”) is from a line of high-achieving show and performance dogs. During her career with Arizona Search Track and Rescue, Keahi has proved to be durable, versatile, and uncannily accurate.

Certified in air-scent, avalanche, cadaver, evidence, and human-remains searches, the in-demand Terv has answered the call in nine states and Canada. She and Smith conduct approximately 43 searches a year, logging between 91 and 126 work days a year—a strenuous pace for any search team.

Smith and Keahi have found lost children and wandering seniors, led investigators to the bodies of murder victims and those who have drowned (including one find 170 feet under water), and recovered key evidence in criminal investigations.

Smith’s fellow K-9 handler Claudia Schmitz says, “When not actively working the field on missions, Keahi goes out of her way to interact with the searchers, family, investigators and anyone else on scene, helping them feel better under quite often tragic situations.”

In 2008, Keahi gave birth to a litter of seven. Five of her pups are now in the “family business” of advanced search work. Keahi and her offspring are a credit to their breed and their breeding.