Service dog vies for 2013 hero award

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PORT ANGELES — Port Angeles service dog trainer Cheryl Bowers worked with Carin terrier mix Lola, the hearing-dog finalist in the 2013 American Humane Association’s Hero Dog Awards.

Bowers worked with Lola and her owner, Charlene Mackenzie, starting in November 2007.

Much of Mackenzie’s hearing was lost 57 years ago when a doctor accidentally prescribed a wrong medication.

She uses a hearing aid in one ear and has a cochlear implant.

Dogs for the Deaf, a program that offers trained canines for the hearing-impaired, contacted Bowers to provide the follow-up training Lola needed.

“Lola was rough around the edges and needed basic obedience and public training,” Bowers said.

“She also needed refresher training for the hearing tasks. Charlene was committed to making it work, and Lola responded well to all of my training.”

Eight finalists

Lola is one of eight finalists in the Hero Dog Awards, each one representing a different type of service dog.

A $1,500 donation was made to Dogs for the Deaf, which nominated Lola for the award.

The overall winner of the Hero Dog Awards will be picked in part by public vote and judges.

A $5,000 donation will be made to the winner’s nominating charity.

The public can vote once a day through Sept. 26 for their favorite hero dog at

The awards will be hosted by Betty White and air on the Hallmark Channel at 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7.

Bowers has been training service dogs since 1999, moving from Port Angeles in 2007 to Bellingham, where she trained Lola and where Lola and Mackenzie live, and back to Port Angeles in 2011.

She operates New Leash on Life, a nonprofit organization providing trained service dogs to people with disabilities.

Bowers said renovations to New Leash’s training facility are almost complete, and the organization will be able to house rescue dogs to be trained as service dogs.

New Leash also is accepting applications for its puppy-raising program, which will begin in late fall.

For more information, email Bowers at

Last modified: September 07. 2013 4:37PM
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