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The five winners of the 19th annual AKC Humane Fund Awards for Canine Excellence (ACE) were announced on Aug. 23, 2018. This year’s batch of heroic canines includes a therapy dog that comforted students following a school shooting and a family pet helping a young boy battle autism.

One award is given in each of the following categories: Uniformed Service K-9, Service, Therapy, Search and Rescue, and Exemplary Companion Dog. “Whether saving lives or providing comfort, these five ACE recipients serve as testimony to the immeasurable ways our canine companions touch our lives every day,” said Doug Ljungren, President of the AKC Humane Fund. “Each dog’s loyalty and dedication to their work and community is an inspiration.”

Recipients receive $1,000 to be awarded to a pet-related charity of their choice, a one-year pet insurance policy from AKC Pet Insurance, and an engraved sterling silver medallion that will be presented in December at the AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin in Orlando, Fla.

Meet the 2018 Ace Award winners below:

Uniformed Service K-9: “Copper,” a Black and Tan Coonhound handled by Officer Christopher Hattaway of Cocoa, Fla.

ace award winners

“K-9 Copper,” officially known as Oak Hills Above and Beyond by Brenmaur, is a two-year-old Black and Tan Coonhound serving the Cocoa Police Department. He is a registered therapy dog and is trained to track missing persons. One of the most significant parts of his job as a Cocoa Police K-9 is community engagement and public relations. Copper’s role in the department has helped bridge the gap between the Cocoa community and the police. When Copper is not at work with the Cocoa Police, you might find him in the conformation ring at a dog show.

Service Dog: “Sampson,” a Golden Retriever owned by Joey Ramp of Foosland, Ill.

ace award winners

“Sampson” is a three-year-old Golden Retriever certified by Paws Giving Independence. After a life-altering accident in 2006, Joey Ramp was left recovering from a brain injury, mobility complications, and nerve damage. She was also struggling with the onset of complex-post traumatic stress disorder. As Joey’s service dog, Sampson assists with mobility, bracing, climbing stairs, and retrieving items, among other tasks. He alerts Joey to an elevation of PTSD symptoms, like panic and anxiety.

Therapy Dog: “Kol,” a Golden Retriever owned by Jane Eisenberg of Boynton Beach, Fla.

ace award winners

“Kol,” an eight-year-old Golden Retriever, officially known as GCHB CH Gemini’s House Of The Rising Sun CDX BN RAE JH THDD CGCA TKA, is certified by Paws for Assistance. Kol is an AKC Grand Champion and has earned many AKC titles, including the AKC Therapy Dog Distinguished. Owner Jane Eisenberg and Kol have spent the past six years comforting people who have experienced trauma, but nothing was quite like their last assignment. They spent almost four months at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. following the devastating shooting that occurred there on Feb. 14.

Search and Rescue Dog: “Inspector Gadget,” a Bloodhound owned and handled by Robert Wells of Lancaster, Calif.

ace award winners

“Inspector Gadget,” officially known as CH Inspector Gadget Sniffs Spottyacre, is an 11-year-old Bloodhound. He is a Volunteer Mission Ready Search and Rescue Dog with the California Rescue Dog Association. Inspector Gadget and his handler, Bob Wells, have deployed dozens of times to assist in locating missing persons and bringing them home. The pair has dedicated thousands of hours to training and performing searches throughout the southwest. Aside from Inspector Gadget’s rewarding work as a Search and Rescue volunteer, he also excels in the conformation ring, earning himself an AKC Champion title.

Exemplary Companion Dog: “Teddy,” a Standard Poodle owned by Terri and Spencer Pardee of Concord, Mich.

ace award winners

“Teddy” is a six-year-old Standard Poodle, officially known as Jed’s Theodore Roosevelt SH CD BN RE TD TDU CGC. He is owned by Terri and Spencer Pardee and has helped Spencer gain confidence throughout his ongoing battle with autism. Spencer was adopted from Guatemala at just eight months old. He was highly intelligent with extreme anxieties and fears, later to be diagnosed with “high-functioning autism.” Teddy slowly helped Spencer break out of his shell. The boy-and-dog duo have gone on to compete in various AKC sports, like obedience, tracking, rally, agility, and Junior Showmanship.

Make sure to visit akc.org over the next few weeks to learn more about these five remarkable canines.

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