Local viewers of the 124th Annual Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., saw two familiar faces on television New Year's Day.
Gabe, a 9-year-old Labrador with an impressive military background, who was recently named the 2012 American Humane Association Hero Dog; and his handler Army Sgt. 1st Class Charles "Chuck" Shuck, a native of Lansford now residing in Columbia, S.C., were two of the hundreds of participants in this year's parade.
The pair rode on Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance Pet Foods, Inc. float, entitled "Canines with Courage: The Military Working Dog Teams National Monument." Gabe and Shuck were joined by other military personnel and their canine companions from other branches of the service.
"The parade was a once-in-a-lifetime event," Shuck said via email.
He explained that Gabe was selected for the honor after being named the 2012 Hero Dog.
Shuck added that the Military Working Dog Teams National Monument will now travel throughout the country, before reaching its final destination Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.
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 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; as well as advocated for animals in shelters and in the military.