Karen Young’s two dogs are playful when home.
But for the Amsterdam woman, a blind diabetic, Jingles and Maizey are more than pets — they’re heroes.
For the second year in a row, Young’s drive to get her dogs recognized has led to a nationwide spotlight.
Maizey has been Young’s diabetic-alert dog for seven years and Jingles started as her guide dog 18 months ago.
Maizey’s sense of smell is so acute she can alert Young about high or low blood sugar. Jingles makes sure she doesn’t trip over broken sidewalks when she’s out for a walk.
For Young, it’s not the two dogs’ skills that are most amazing. It’s the fact that they both work together at the same time that’s worth recognizing.
“It’s an extremely rare thing for that to happen,” said Young, whose appreciation for the dogs that protect her life led to a trip to Hollywood earlier this month.
She’ll be among several featured on television Wednesday during a presentation of the “Hero Dog Awards,” an annual competition of the American Humane Association aimed at recognizing the contributions that dogs make to the lives of people.
Jingles topped the list, landing more than 1 million votes and the title as the nation’s top service dog.
Maizey is a miniature dachshund and Jingles is a mix between a black labrador and a golden retriever.
“Jingles’ job is basically to get me from Point A to Point B safely, because I can’t see what is between Point A and Point B, only Jingles knows,” Young said.
The smart dog doesn’t stop at telephone poles or trash cans, she guides Young around them, stopping at major changes in elevation, curbs or broken sidewalk.
“Once she stops, then it’s my job to figure out why she’s stopping,” Young said.
And despite the dog’s role “on the job,” Young is most proud of how Jingles expresses her love for people when they’re around.
“She thinks everyone is her long-lost best friend. She’s just wiggling and grinning and wagging that tail,” Young said.
Young said she entered Maizey into the contest last year and the diminutive canine placed 10th out of 100 for the Service Dog category.
So she decided to put forth an effort to spotlight Jingles in this year’s contest, an effort that led to a first-place win and a red carpet event at the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Hollywood.
“I never imagined, never imagined that she would’ve won,” Young said.
The Hero Dog Awards will air at 8 p.m. Wednesday on the Hallmark Channel.