Gabe, a 9-year-old yellow Labrador with an impressive military background, has been named the 2012 American Humane Association Hero Dog.
The announcement naming Gabe, who is owned by Sgt. 1st Class Charles "Chuck" Shuck, a native of Lansford now residing in Columbia S.C., was made on Oct. 6 during the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif. Both Gabe and Shuck were present at the awards, which will be broadcast on the Hallmark Channel at 8 p.m., on Nov. 8.
Shuck said he was excited and thrilled by the announcement.
"We are so proud to represent Lansford and the entire Panther Valley area," he said, adding that he and Gabe got to meet Betty White, Jake T. Austin, Jewel, Kristen Chenoweth, and Naomi Judd, during the awards.
Gabe was one of eight finalists up for this year's honor.
Other finalists included:
Ÿ Daniel, a beagle from New Jersey that survived an attempt to euthanize him in 2011 and was the inspiration for "Daniel's Law," which will soon be passed in Pennsylvania, outlawing the use of gas chambers for euthanizing animals.
Ÿ Holly, an 11-year-old collie from Utah that provides seizure alert and response service to her owner Shanna Wilkinson.
Ÿ Jynx, a German shepherd in law enforcement from Shillington, Pa., who helped Berks County Deputy Sheriff K-9 Handler Kyle Pagerly, who was fatally shot in a suspect pursuit, down a mountain to receive medical attention. He also attempted to move another officer, helping Pagerly out of harm's away during the attack.
Ÿ Soot, a black Labrador from West Virginia who rescued a 78-year-old, diabetic hunter, who was lost in the woods on a cold December morning.
Ÿ Stella, a standard poodle from New York, who has provided support to individuals with disabilities through visits as a therapy dog.
Ÿ Tabitha, a guide dog from Indiana, who has helped her owner cope with the loss of her sight.
Ÿ Tatiana II, a hearing dog from Florida, who saved her handler's life by alerting her family that she was having a severe asthma attack and was unable to breathe.
Gabe was selected as the top dog using an online voting system; as well as by a panel of judges, which included Whoopi Goldberg, Kristen Chenoweth, Miranda Lambert, Michelle Forbes, J.R. Martinez, and other well-known celebrities; as well as handlers and owners from last year's Hero Dog finalists.
Gabe won a total of $15,000 $5,000 in July, after he was named a finalist, and an additional $10,000 this past weekend for the charity The United States War Dogs Association.
Gabe's history with the military began in 2005, when he was rescued from a pound in Texas by the United States Army. He was taken to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas and began training as a bomb-sniffing dog.
In 2006, Shuck and Gabe were introduced and shortly after were deployed to Iraq, where over the next few years, they completed over 210 combat missions and found 26 explosives and weapons.
By the time Gabe left Iraq, he had acquired three Army Commendation Medals, an Army Achievement medal, and 40 coins of excellence.
He later retired from duty in 2009 as Sgt. 1st Class, bomb sniffing, and was officially adopted by Shuck.
Since then, Gabe and Shuck have visited wounded troops in hospitals and students in various schools.
The American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards are a red carpet event that showcases the heroic acts by our canine companions. The awards, which are presented by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, began in 2010 and have been a national hit with people and dogs alike.