Jammer, a 7-yr-old Golden Retriever from Valrico, will be competing against 265 other courageous canines for the nation’s highest honor recognizing Mankind’s best friend. Jammer is a certified therapy dog and during the last three years Jammer and his owner, Tracy Halfman, have spent time visiting with a young autistic boy as well visiting residents in numerous assisted living facilities. Halfman owns a clinic in Brandon and Jammer also comes to work each day with her, greeting and visiting with clients.

“He always seems to know when someone could use a dog to pet or hug to brighten their day,” said Halfman. “In fact, I have people that come by my office just to visit Jammer.”

In December 2016, Jammer was diagnosed with a sarcoma in his right lateral triceps muscle. He had surgery to remove the bulk of the mass, as well as 19 radiation treatments. The process was long and painful for him, but recovered and continued back to work both with Halfman as well as his ALF visits.

Unfortunately, in October 2017 cancer struck again. He had an emergency splenectomy and was diagnosed with Hermangio Sarcoma, a very deadly form of cancer. Jammer is continuing to fight through homeopathic resources and he has been an amazing patient.

Jammer is competing in the Emerging Hero’s category in the American Hero Dog competition. Local dog lovers and those across the country are invited to visit www.herodogawards.org and vote once per day for their favorite dogs in each of seven categories.

The first round of voting ends Wednesday, April 25 with the selection of 21 semifinalists. A second round, featuring a combination of public and celebrity voting, will narrow the field to the seven category finalists. The winning dog in each category will be flown to Los Angeles and celebrated at a red carpet, star-studded awards gala on Saturday, September 29, when this year’s American Hero Dog will be revealed.

Winners in each category will earn $2,500 for their designated charity partner and the overall winner’s charity partner will win an additional $5,000 prize. The charity Halfman chose is Secondhand Hounds, a nonprofit dog rescue that provides safe shelter, vet care and daily necessities for animals at risk until they find them a forever home.

“As for being my hero, I can only hope that I can approach the challenges in life with the grace and dignity of Jammer,” said Halfman.

One of Halfman’s favorite dog quotes is from Roger Caras, “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”

“Jammer has made our lives whole,” said Halfman. “He is a real hero to me.”

For more information about the 2018 American Humane Hero Dog Awards® and to vote daily in the contest, please visit www.herodogawards.org.

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Kelly Wise Valdes
Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.