Cerebral Palsy Teen’s Assistance Dog, Scout, Wins Canine Companion for Independence Award

Cerebral Palsy Teen’s Assistance Dog, Scout, Wins Canine Companion for Independence Award

Scout, the companion dog of a 17-year-old boy with cerebral palsy (CP), has won recognition as “Assistance Dog of the Year” in a contest organized by Hill’s Pet Nutrition.

Scout’s owner is Duncan Cumby of Stephenville, Texas. His family received the 5-year-old golden retriever from Canine Companion for Independence (CCI), a group based in Santa Rosa, California, that trains dogs to help people with specific needs.

The award includes a two-year supply of Hill’s Science Diet pet food, and a $1,000 donation to CCI for training Scout.

Scout was named “Assistance Dog of the Year” in a contest sponsored by Hill’s Pet Nutrition and Clinician’s Brief. Photo: CCI

In a thank-you video, Duncan’s mother, Misty Cumby, said the family will use the money they save with this prize to also donate to CCI.

Scout supports his owner in many ways, including picking up dropped items, removing his owner’s socks, collecting laundry, and closing drawers and cabinet doors. He accompanies Duncan to doctor’s appointments or exams, and he plays a key role in his owner’s socialization.

“Assistance dogs work every day to improve the quality of their owner’s lives,” Jolle Kirpensteijn, chief professional relations officer at Hill’s Pet Nutrition, said in a press release. “This competition was an opportunity to work with our veterinary healthcare team colleagues to celebrate the outstanding contribution that assistance dogs make and to champion the amazing organizations that train them. The support and companionship these animals provide can transform an individual’s life and often has a positive effect on the entire family.”

Hill’s organized the Assistance Dog competition along with Clinician’s Brief, a veterinary journal. Before the contest, vets worldwide were encouraged to nominate exceptional assistance dogs they cared for in their clinics. A panel of independent vets then assessed the candidates and selected three main winners. Besides winning “Service Dog of the Year,” Scout was named Grand Winner.

The other two winners, Lena and Honey, will also each receive a one-year supply of Hill’s Science Diet pet food.

Lena is a Doberman Pinscher that assists Hannay Haley of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, if she is about to suffer a seizure by helping alleviate her anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Honey is a German shepherd that supports a wheelchair-bound U.S. Army veteran, Michael Gaither, of Chiefland, Florida.

Here are other service dog stories vets submitted for the contest. The work of three assistance dog training associations was highlighted during the Hill’s Global Symposium 2017 on May 5-6 in Washington, D.C.

“We are delighted that veterinary professionals responded so enthusiastically to the competition, enabling us to share so many heart-warming stories. Through this competition and other initiatives we have run, Hill’s has reached more than one million people around the world with our message about the benefits assistance dogs can bring,” said Kirpensteijn. “We congratulate Scout, Honey, Lena and their owners, and look forward to continuing to promote the vital work of Assistance Dogs and their training organizations in the months ahead.”