With great sadness, American Humane Association announced last week that 2012 American Hero Dog Gabe fought his last battle after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. He was ten years old.
A true hero, Gabe was a life-saving Specialized Search Dog who served our country by completing more than 210 combat missions with 26 explosive and weapons finds in Iraq, saving countless American soldiers’ lives on the battlefield. He passed away in the arms of his adopted Dad, Sgt. First Class Chuck Shuck surrounded by his favorite toys, his medals of honor, and his favorite treats in Columbia, South Carolina on Wednesday, February 13, 2013.
Gabe was a pound puppy languishing in a Houston, Texas animal shelter when he was adopted and trained by the United States Military. Proving beyond a doubt that adoption saves lives, Gabe began his service as a Specialized Search Dog for the United States Army in 2006 and after three years of active duty retired in 2009 having earned more than 40 awards and coins of excellence. He was selected as the American Kennel Club Heroic Military Working Dog in 2008, and won the title of 2012 American Hero Dog at the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards™. A star-studded gala nationally broadcast on the Hallmark Channel last year, the Hero Dog Awards was created to celebrate the powerful relationship between dogs and people honoring America’s most courageous canines and recognizing extraordinary acts of heroism performed by “ordinary” dogs.
“Chuck and Gabe have become part of the American Humane Association family,” said President and CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert. “They are truly a perfect hero team. Their love for each other, this country, and their community is genuine. They spent almost all of their free time volunteering at local retirement homes, schools and community events bringing cheer, love, education, and compassion. Gabe exemplified what the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards are all about and I am so proud to have had the privilege of knowing them both.”
Since receiving the top honor at the Second Annual American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards in October, 2012, Gabe, a yellow Lab, and Sgt. Shuck have traveled across the country as ambassadors for American Humane Association serving as advocates for shelter pets and promoting the importance of the human-animal bond, a bond they clearly possessed and cherished. Earlier this year Gabe participated in the 2013 Rose Bowl Parade where he was honored for his valiant work in the military and his community, and last summer Gabe and Sgt. Chuck threw out the first pitch together at Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium. Sergeant Chuck Shuck remains in Columbia, South Carolina where he serves the U.S. Army as a Senior Drill Sergeant. Sgt. Shuck is on his way to completing his Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice.
In a 2012 interview with ABC News, Sergeant Shuck described the special bond he shared with Gabe:
“He’s my life. I can’t sugarcoat it or sound manly about it. He’s everything,” he said. “The dog is with you 24/7. The dog lives with you, sleeps with you…you’re thousands of miles away from home, you don’t have the comforts of home, and your best friend is that dog.”