Update: Yes, the posthumous winner was Roselle! Big cash prizes went to Roselle and others. See at bottom of second page.
The hairy competition has been pitched, with 453 heroic dogs from around the nation fighting it out for the eight finalist slots in the first American Humane Association Hero Dog Award to be handed out tomorrow, October 1, in Beverly Hills.
The judges will be torn, with sentimental favorite, white-whiskered elder guide dog Roselle -- made famous when she guided her blind human down more than 1,400 steps to safely escape the World Trade Center on 9/11 -- having quietly passed away in July. Will she get the posthumous nod? Here are the other seven Hero Dogs for your consideration:
Ricochet, that surfing showoff from Escondido who, to her credit, is supposedly the only therapy dog in the world who surfs with disabled and special needs people.
Ricochet has something of an advantage thanks to loads of press and surfer chic.
Ricochet is not just a humanitarian but also a killer fundraiser, which Barack Obama and the various Republicans might like to know.
Sadie, a cop basically, is based in Westminster, Colorado where she works as a certified bomb-sniffer ("accelerant detection dog") for the Major Crimes Unit of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
This paramilitary pooch has assisted in many arrests and worked some 400 fire scenes.
Please see the next page for more Hero Dog finalists.
Bino, a dog of war, a Dutch shepherd based in Augusta, Georgia, served with the 35th Military Police Detachment at Fort Gordon.
Bino risked life and limbs during a 14-month stint in Iraq and deployed on special anti-narcotics missions with the U.S. Border Patrol.
Plus, he's gorgeous. One military web site explains that Bino and his adoptive owner Debbie Kandoll will "get an all-expenses-paid trip to Los Angeles, where they will participate in a red-carpet gala."
Not a party type but exceedingly loyal, his formal name is MWD Bino C152.
Harley, a hearing dog from Fountain Hills, Arizona, basically saved his owner's sanity following woefully delayed education/ intervention for a severe hearing disability.
As the owner says in Harley's bid for the win: "Others often questioned my intelligence because I hadn't said I hadn't heard, yet behaved as if I hadn't understood."
Harley opened the world for his human.
Please go to the next page.
Sage, a search-and-rescue snooper from Hagerman, New Mexico with often grim duties, detected the remains of a terrorist in the ruins of the Pentagon following 9/11.
The extremely brainy, Columbo-like Sage has searched for survivors of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Sage was called for special detective duty in an effort to find missing teenager Natalee Holloway.
Stacey Mae, a Greater Swiss Mountain dog and therapy dog from Guffey, Colorado, is a hopeless showoff.
When not being adored, Stacey Mae has helped collect thousands of teddy bears for hospitalized children around the world.
Whatever else Stacey Mae receives on Saturday, "Best Name" ought to be in the bag.
And finally, please see the next page for Zurich (i.e., why voter apathy wasn't a problem).
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Zurich, a Labrador retriever from Des Plaines, Illinois, is the minute-to-minute aide to Patti Kennedy, who suffers from a rare brain stem disorder -- the awful multiple system atrophy or Shy-Drager syndrome -- that prevents Kennedy from moving or speaking on her own.
So she lives in her power chair or her bed, with Zurich standing tall nearby.
Tomorrow's posh pup ceremony will air on November 11 on the Hallmark Channel. To attend the Beverly Hills gala in person, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, go here for tickets.
Update: At the crowded event on Saturday, Roselle was awarded $10,000 which will be donated to the dog's favorite charity. All seven runner-ups also won $5,000 each which will, in turn, be donated to animal charities.