Meet the 2014 Hero Dogs: Part 2

Robin Ganzert on Pet Life Radio

Robin hosts the second of her four-part series interviewing the eight 2014 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards finalists. Up first is Linda Hickey, the mom of Xena the Warrior Puppy, winner of the Emerging Hero category. Xena is an animal abuse survivor and has formed an extraordinary connection with Linda’s son, who has been diagnosed with autism. Later in the show, Marine vet Matt Hatala is interviewed about his dog, Military Dog category winner Chaney, who served multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan as an IED detection dog.


Linda Hickey and Xena the Warrior Puppy

This pit bull was knocking on death’s door when she was brought into a Georgia shelter outside Atlanta. Emaciated and dehydrated, she was given just a one percent chance at survival. Unbelievably, she defied the odds, made a full recovery and was adopted by a family with a little boy with autism. Before, the child had closed himself off to the world, but the arrival of Xena sparked something in the child, and now he went from once silent to constantly singing to and chatting with Xena the Warrior Puppy.


Matt Hatala and Chaney

This eight-year-old lab retired from the Marines in 2013 after multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as an IED detection dog. While deployed, Chaney not only saved countless lives by locating IEDs, he also served as a great morale booster for everyone in his squad. Since retiring, Chaney was adopted by one of his handlers and they now spend many hours volunteering around the Midwest for a nonprofit organization called Retrieving Freedom, Inc., which trains service dogs for disabled veterans and children with autism.