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ACE Award Winner Wynd
For inspiration, check out previous winners of the Awards for Canine Excellence. Wynd, a Rottweiler owned by Renice Zimmerman of Yorktown, Va., won the 2015 ACE Award for Therapy. Wynd served on the therapy dog team at the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) National Seminar in D.C. and was a familiar presence at the Survivor Outreach Service booth during other military events.
2021 Exemplary Companion Winner “Benny,” a Labrador Retriever owned by Cheryl DelSangro of Las Vegas, Nevada
2020 Search and Rescue Dog ACE Winner “Shiraz" is a Belgian Malinois owned and handled by Susan Goodhope of Havana, Florida.
2017 ACE Award winner Duke
Duke, a Doberman Pinscher handled by Detective Sergeant Ed Soares of Menlo Park, Calif., won the 2017 ACE Award for Uniformed Service K-9. Duke is a narcotics detection K-9 deployed during traffic enforcement stops, parole and probation searches, and narcotics cases. He also serves as an ambassador for his breed.
2014 ACE Award Winner Xander
2014 Ace Award winner Xander the Pug went on to become an accomplished therapy dog after going blind.
2017 ACE Award winner Piglet
Piglet, a Catahoula Leopard Dog owned and handled by Lori Wells of Lancaster, Calif., won the 2017 ACE Award for Search and Rescue. Piglet spends hundreds of hours each year training, testing, and answering the call of duty for law enforcement agencies in California, Nevada, and Arizona.
2014 ACE Award Winner Boomer
Boomer, an Australian Shepherd owned by Connie Dilts of Smicksburg, Pa., won the 2014 ACE Award for Exemplary Companion. When a bear charged at and violently attacked Dilts while she was on a walk, Boomer went after the animal and ultimately forced it to flee.
2017 ACE Award winner Dennis
Dennis, a Skye Terrier owned by Stephen P. Hersey of Hampton, N.H., won the 2017 ACE Award for Therapy. Dennis spent countless hours over the past seven years working in several areas of therapy work.
2017 ACE Award winner Gunner
Gunner, a Great Pyrenees owned by D. Hamilton Kinard of Richmond Hill, Ga., won the 2017 ACE Award for Service. Gunner is a certified mobility assistance and PTSD service dog for his owner, who medically retired from the Army in 2010. Gunner braces Kinard so he can stand, pulls his wheelchair on bad days, and helps bring Kinard back to reality when he suffers from chronic flashbacks.
2016 ACE Award winner Radar
Radar, a Bloodhound handled by Frank Hurst of Kiowa, Colo., won the 2016 ACE Award for Uniformed Service K-9. Radar worked cases with close to three dozen law enforcement agencies, including the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, as well as the FBI. In 2016, Radar was among just a handful of Bloodhound K-9s assisting NecroSearch International, a national group that solves cold case homicides.
Haus, a German Shepherd Dog owned by Donya DeLuca of Tampa, Fla., won the 2016 ACE Award for Exemplary Companion. Haus fought for his life after stepping between 7-year-old Molly DeLuca and a rattlesnake. Luckily, he recovered and returned home to his family.
2016 ACE Award winner Bodie
Bodie, a Belgian Malinois owned and handled by Amy Lavoie of Santee, Calif., won the 2016 ACE Award for Search and Rescue. Bodie and Amy assisted local and federal law enforcement in Southern California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah.
2016 ACE Award winner Jackie
Jackie, a Sussex Spaniel owned by Jan Hepper of San Francisco, Calif., won the 2016 ACE Award for Therapy. At the time of her win, Jackie was a member of the San Francisco International Airport Wag Brigade, a program that brings therapy dogs to airport terminals in an effort to make travel more enjoyable for passengers.
2016 ACE Award winner Teddie
Teddie, a Labrador Retriever owned by Krystal Greco of North East, Md., won the 2016 ACE Award for Service. Teddie assisted Krystal, who is paralyzed from the waist down, at home and at her part-time job.
ACE Award Winner Pablo
Pablo, a Belgian Malinois handled by Greg Madrid of Albany, Ga., won the 2015 ACE Award for Uniformed Service K-9. In 2015, Pablo was a certified PEDD (Patrol/Explosive Detection Dog) by the U.S. Air Force, and was assigned to the Marine Corps Police Department in Albany, Ga. Pablo regularly served on Secret Service details for visiting dignitaries.
ACE Award Winner Mufasa
Mufasa, a Bernese Mountain Dog owned by Kristen and Robin Greenwood of Bel Air, Md., won the 2015 Award for Exemplary Companion. Mufasa would greet visitors at his owners’ dog wash business (where he had a regular fan club) and his presence alone helped the local community learn about the AKC and responsible breeders.
ACE Award Winner Ty
Ty, a German Shepherd Dog handled by Melissa Frye of Southport, Fla., won the 2015 ACE Award for Search and Rescue. At the time of his win, Ty had been deployed on over 60 missions with great success, particularly in his specialty of water recovery. Ty also served as the Bay County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue public relations dog.
ACE Award Winner George
"George,” a Great Dane from Massachusetts, won the 2015 AKC ACE Award in the Service Dog category.
2014 ACE Award Winner Bruno
K-9 Bruno, a German Shepherd Dog owned by Officer R.J. Young of the Anaheim Police Department in Anaheim, Calif., won the 2014 ACE Award for Uniformed Service K-9. Bruno spent his career sniffing out narcotics and criminals and even took a bullet to protect his human colleagues.
2014 ACE Award Winner Patella
K-9 Patella, a Labrador Retriever owned by Jim Houck of Ft. Collins, Colo., won the 2014 ACE Award for Search and Rescue. At the time of his win, K-9 Officer Patella was certified as a Human Remains Detection K-9 and had assisted in countless cases across Colorado. Additionally, he traveled 9,000 miles to the Philippines to lead recovery efforts after the destruction of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.
2014 ACE Award Winner Gander
Gander, a mixed-breed dog owned by Lon Hodge of Vernon Hills, Ill., won the 2014 ACE Award for Service. Gander became a service dog to Hodge, a veteran who suffers from PTSD and mobility issues as a result of his time in the military. Hodge credited Gander with saving his life.
2017 ACE Award winner Amber
Amber, a Cardigan Welsh Corgi owned by Sonja Benavidez of Geneseo, Ill., won the 2017 ACE Award for Exemplary Companion Dog. Amber helped Sonja regain her happiness, and the pair has been told they're the best wheelchair dog and handler team ever seen in the show ring.
2013 ACE Award Winner Bart
Bart, a Vizsla owned by Darcy Hodges of Brooks, Ga., won the 2013 ACE Award for Exemplary Companion. When Bart was 3 years old, his entire front left leg was removed due to cancer. Only four months after his amputation and three weeks after completing chemotherapy, Bart earned his Senior Hunter title and continued to the Master Hunter level, earning that title ten months later.
2013 ACE Award Winner Jesse
Jesse, a German Shepherd Dog owned and handled by Susan Condreras of Riverhead, N.Y., won the 2013 ACE Award for Search and Rescue. Jesse served multiple communities by deploying on searches in arduous terrain. Snakes, ticks, steep cliffs, swamps, extreme weather conditions, foxes, bears, and gunshots all threatened her safety while she diligently searched for missing people.
2013 ACE Award Winner Drago
Drago, a Spinone Italiano owned by Lauren Friedman and Chris Sweetwood of Milford, Conn., won the 2013 ACE Award for Therapy. Drago had more than 1,000 therapy visits under his belt when he was called into service after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012. Drago and Lauren spent many days at the crisis center that was set up at Reed Intermediate School, providing love and support to those who needed it.
2021 Service Dog Winner“SSD Dyson,” a Labrador Retriever owned by Brandon C. Holiday of North Wales, Pennsylvania

To celebrate the dogs that do extraordinary things in the service of humankind, the AKC Humane Fund holds its annual AKC Humane Fund Awards for Canine Excellence (ACE). Entries were reviewed and award recipients will be announced in December.

Each year, the AKC Humane Fund pays tribute to five dedicated, hardworking dogs for making significant contributions to an individual or entire community. Since its creation in 2000, more than 100 ACE awards have been presented to dogs of various breeds from states across the nation. Former ACE recipients have included a police K-9 that uncovered the work of a serial killer, a Search and Rescue dog that helped provide closure to grieving families, and a family pet that fought for his life after saving a 7-year-old girl from a rattlesnake. This year’s awards are sponsored by YuMOVE, the official joint sponsor of the AKC, and EUKANUBA premium dog nutrition.

This one-hour special will cover stories of the incredible dogs that have been honored this year and highlight their amazing contributions to humankind. This year’s winners were chosen from a pool of over 600 nominations.

The winners of the 2023 awards will be announced in a special broadcast on Sunday, December 10th at 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2. Learn more about what each award means.

2019 AKC Humane Fund Award for Canine Excellence for Uniformed Service K-9, Summer, a Labrador Retriever

2023 Awards for Canine Excellence Categories

One award is given in each of the following categories:

Uniformed Service K-9

Dogs that are eligible for this award are full-time working K-9s in the realms of city, county, state, or federal law enforcement; the military; firefighting; customs and border patrol; emergency services.

Exemplary Companion

Dogs that are eligible for this award are those without formal training or certification that have nonetheless distinguished themselves in some way and have made a meaningful contribution to their owners or communities.

Search and Rescue

Dogs that are eligible for this award are those certified to assist in wilderness and urban tracking, natural disasters, mass casualty events, and locating missing people.


Dogs that are eligible for this award are certified therapy dogs working in hospitals, schools, disaster sites, war zones, and wherever else the affection of a good dog can provide comfort.


Eligibility: Certified service dogs that enrich the lives of physically or mentally disabled owners. Including but not limited to, guide dogs for the blind, seizure-alert dogs, hearing dogs, and balance dogs.

Watch AKC Heroes: 2023 Awards for Canine Excellence

The 2023 ACE winners will be announced in a special on ESPN2. AKC Heroes: 2023 Awards for Canine Excellence will air on ESPN2 at 8:30 p.m. EST on Sunday, Dec. 10th. Check your local provider for your channel. If you have a cable log-in, you can also watch on the ESPN app or website.

The special will re-air on Sunday, December 17th at 8pm ET and Sunday, December 31st at 11pm ET.

A donation of $1,000 will also be made in each recipient’s name to the pet-related charity of their choice. The names of the five recipients will be added to the ACE plaque on permanent display in the AKC Humane Fund Library at AKC headquarters in New York City.
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