ALIQUIPPA, Pa. (KDKA) -- An Aliquippa boy's service dog named Hank has won an American Kennel Club award for canine excellence.
Hank, a German shepherd, has been selected as a winner of the American Kennel Club's Humane Fund Awards for Canine Excellence in the service dog category. The awards celebrate five "loyal, hard-working dogs that have significantly improved the lives of their owners and communities," the kennel club says.
Hank is a service dog for 8-year-old Harrison, who has autism. The kennel club says Hank has been with Harrison and his family for over three years through the organization K9s for Kids.
Before Hank, the American Kennel Club says Harrison, who is nonverbal, struggled with many activities like car rides and going to the grocery store, and he would often escape the family's yard. He also had a hard time tolerating changes to his routine.
"With the addition of Hank, he has tamed Harrison's aggressiveness and now has more independence. He has helped Harrison tolerate change and has even helped grow Harrison's desire to communicate," the American Kennel Club said in a news release.
With Hank, Harrison has also found a love of the outdoors and enjoys hiking.
Hank will be honored in a special broadcast "AKC Heroes: 2023 Awards For Canine Excellence." The four other categories are exemplary companion, search and rescue, therapy dog and uniformed service K-9.
"Every year, dogs continue to show us how important they are in our lives and these five dogs are the perfect example," said AKC Executive Secretary Gina DiNardo in a news release. "Their impact can be felt throughout their communities and we are proud to share their stories."
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