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Our Hero: Jake The Black Lab

Jake is a black Lab who was rescued from an animal shelter by his handler, Mary Flood. When she got him, Jake had a problem with one of his hips. But today, he is one of six American finalists in an international competition called "Paws To Recognize."

What sets Jake apart is his search and rescue work. Jake and his handler have taken part in more than 25 wilderness search and rescue operations and they are employed by Federal Emergency Management Agency to do urban rescue as well. They were both on duty after the collapse of the World Trade Center.

To train in urban search and rescue, Flood uses a rubble pile that looks like a collapsed building where Jake has to use his sense of smell to find a person hiding in the rubble pile. Flood uses her vacation time to travel around the country to train Jake in different rubble piles. They live in Salt Lake City, Utah, where they help find people who get lost or get in trouble in the wilderness.

If Jake wins the "Paws To Recognize" competition in the search and rescue category, he and Flood will travel to Washington for the awards ceremony in August, where they will join 10 dogs from other countries. The competition is divided up into the following categories of service dogs: seeing eye/guide dog, bomb detection dogs, government/military/police dogs, search and rescue dogs and assistance therapy dogs which work in hospitals.

The American winner will be chosen based on votes cast on the pedigree.com Web site. The purpose of the competition is to bring to the public's awareness the contributions that service dogs make to society, and to recognize some outstanding individual service dogs. It is sponsored by Pedigree dog food, Walmart and the Humane Society.

Meet Jake and Flood on Thursday's The Early Show.