Scout, a companion dog who supports a 17-year-old boy with cerebral palsy, has been crowned Assistance Dog of the Year in a competition organized by Hill’s Pet Nutrition. The 5-year-old golden retriever provides practical support for his owner by picking up dropped items, removing his owner’s socks, collecting laundry and closing drawers and cabinet doors. Equally important, Scout serves as a companion and social bridge.
Scout’s owner, Duncan Cumby from Stephenville, Texas, will receive a two-year supply of Hill’s Science Diet pet food. Hill’s will also make a $1,000 donation to Canine Companion for Independence, the organization that trained Scout.
“Assistance dogs work every day to improve the quality of their owner’s lives,” said Dr. Jolle Kirpensteijn, chief professional relations officer at Hill’s Pet Nutrition. “This competition was an opportunity to work with our veterinary healthcare team colleagues to celebrate the outstanding contribution that assistance dogs make and to champion the amazing organizations that train them. The support and companionship these animals provide can transform an individual’s life and often has a positive effect on the entire family.”
Hill’s partnered with the veterinary journal Clinician’s Brief to run the Assistance Dog competition in early 2017. Veterinary professionals from around the world were encouraged to nominate outstanding assistance dogs that they had cared for in their clinic. A panel of independent veterinarians selected three monthly winners and then named Scout as the Grand Winner and Assistance Dog of the Year.
The three monthly winners and the yearly winner will each receive a one-year supply of Hill’s Science Diet pet food.
The other monthly winners are:
Honey, a German shepherd that supports Michael Gaither, a wheelchair-bound U.S. Army veteran from Chiefland, Florida. In addition to the constant companionship she provides, Honey supports Gaither by picking up clothes and opening doors. She is also trained to find help or call 911 in an emergency.
Lena, a 15-month-old Doberman pinscher that assists Hannay Haley from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Lena alerts Haley if she is about to suffer a medical seizure and performs tasks that mitigate her anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. This help enables Haley to live a more independent life.
“We are delighted that veterinary professionals responded so enthusiastically to the competition, enabling us to share so many heart-warming stories,” Kirpensteijn said. “Through this competition and other initiatives we have run, Hill’s has reached more than 1 million people around the world with our message about the benefits assistance dogs can bring.”
“We congratulate Scout, Honey, Lena and their owners and look forward to continuing to promote the vital work of Assistance Dogs and their training organizations in the months ahead,” Kirpensteijn said.
The work of three assistance dog training associations was highlighted during the Hill’s Global Symposium 2017 on May 5-6 in Washington, D.C.