By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A few weeks ago, the American Humane Association awarded Gabe, a Military Working Dog, as the 2012 Hero Dog of the year. While deployed to Iraq, he completed over two hundred ten combat missions with 26 finds of explosives and weapons. Aside from successful combat missions, he also comforted the many wounded in Army hospitals and visited many school children in elementary schools.

Sage, a now 13-year-old Border Collie, is a successful rescue dog who aided in rescues after 9/11 at the Pentagon site, in Iraq and in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Last Friday, Bella, a 4-year-old Boxer in Florida, courageously and successfully stayed off two gunmen to protect her family. Just days after an abused Saint Bernard in Ohio was rescued from the sad fate of euthanasia, Hercules saved his new family from a dangerous intruder.

Earlier this year in New York, a previously neglected and abused shelter dog named Grace alerted her foster family to a devastating fire of which they were completely unaware; that alert saved all of their lives. A small Chihuahua in South Carolina did the same thing and saved his entire family as their house was consumed by fire and just days ago, Brick, a Pit bull mix in California, saved his entire family from the same fate. In Fort Washington, a woman’s dog alerted her that her neighbor’s house was on fire.

These stories are not uncommon. Everyday in some way a dog is healing, saving or comforting. There are countless dogs who are heroes. In fact, never underestimate your own best friend. The canine’s innate desire to please mankind and their admirable ability to provide unconditional love and loyalty are unmatched.

These are inherent traits that every dog possesses! We can learn a lot from those wonderful qualities.