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Top Dogs Honored for Many Services

August 22, 2003|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Heroes comes in all shapes and sizes -- and breeds too.

Popeye the basset hound's sad face brings laughter to children and adults at hospitals and schools in Puerto Rico. Arthos, a solid-looking Beauceron search-and-rescue dog from Germany, helped save the life of a suicidal 12-year-old girl by leading police to the distressed child.

They joined other dogs from around the world at a tribute ceremony Thursday organized by Paws to Recognize, a program that celebrates service dogs. Solid bronze medals were placed around their necks.

The pooches also pressed their paw prints in cement for a Hollywood-style "Canine Heroes Walk of Fame."

The four-legged heroes stood aside their handlers, who offered comforting words and pats when the canines bowed to the dog days of Washington's August heat and plopped to the ground.

The animals' heroic efforts were applauded by Robert C. Bonner, commissioner of customs and border protection at the Department of Homeland Security, which has 1,200 detector dogs.

"They are invaluable," he said.

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Bonner said bureau dogs that detect drugs and explosives were also trained to search for chemical weapons, such as sarin gas.

The award for top dog in the United States went to a yellow Labrador retriever named Crazy Joe, an 80-pound narcotic detector for customs and border protection who was adopted from an animal shelter.

He's assigned to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

In his six-year career, Crazy Joe has uncovered more than $10 million worth of cocaine, heroin and other narcotics. His handler, Cindy Grob, said his biggest seizure was 60 pounds of cocaine stashed in a suitcase.

For such a big bust, she said, Crazy Joe is treated to "a nice big steak."

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