Hero Dog Awards - Russell


Ponte Vedra, Florida

One look at Russell in December of 2019, and your heart would drop. He was brought into Nassau Humane Society in Florida, skinny, scared and covered in scabs all over his body. The clinic immediately started treating him for demodectic mange, a parasite skin infection, that had taken over his body—the worst of it on his snout. He kept getting passed up for adoptions until K9s For Warriors came through in April of 2021. The Florida-based nonprofit, which rescues and trains service dogs for veterans struggling with PTSD, TBI, and/or MST, was able to look past what many others couldn’t. They saw a sweet, smart and loving dog who could save a veteran’s life. After months of excelling at his training and healing from his condition, Russell was paired with his Navy veteran, Kevin, in 2021. Following his service in the Navy, Kevin was diagnosed with PTSD. It took ahold of his life. For years, Kevin didn’t leave the house—he stayed in his room and didn’t socialize with anyone. He didn’t go to his daughters’ events and avoided any crowds or social gatherings like the plague. Then he met his battle buddy Russell, and everything changed. Russell saved his life. “I get to go to my kids’ events and band concerts,” he says. “Russell takes care of everyone. Everyone tells me I’m a completely new person. I actually got to go Christmas shopping for my family for the first time in I don’t know how long this year.”