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Heroes on the Hill: Congressional dogs are honored

February 16, 2009 | 12:15 pm

It did not get a lot of media ink, but hey, that's a dog's life.

Still, for those honored last week at the Humane Society's Congressional Canine Honors, it was only slightly less august than the Westminster Dog Show.

For starters,  Army Spc. Justin Rollins and his dog Hero were honored along with Marine Cpl. Dustin Lee and his dog Lex. Both had been killed in combat, and their families -- with an assist from Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) and Rep. Paul Hodes (D-N.H.) -- were able to bring the dogs back to the United States and adopt them.

As Jerome Lee said at the awards ceremony, the 8-year-old bomb-sniffing Lex, a German shepherd, was at Dustin Lee's side March 21, 2007, when the Marine was killed by a rocket propelled grenade. Shrapnel from the explosion buried itself in Lex's back and side, and he nearly lost his tail.

They spent so much time together, training and getting ready for their mission. Dustin loved Lex and Lex loved Dustin. To have a part of Dustin back from the Marine Corps has really helped our family.

Then House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), usually a sober-faced guy, grew nostalgic as he eulogized his beloved English springer spaniel. Charlotte, who had her own bed in Hoyer's office, passed away in 2007 at the age of 15, nine years after Hoyer's wife died. As he said:

God invented dogs for us, to give us the kind of uncompromising love that human beings need, and we in turn give them the same kind of love.

There were plenty of other heart-melting moments at the ceremony, too, thanks to the first-ever Congressional Photo Contest.

Georgie, a 14-year-old schnauzer, won Best Campaigner for her work marching in parades for Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.).


Hoover, who lives with Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.), won Barker of the House.


As for the new Senate Pawjority Leader, she's a girl, Lucy, who hangs out in the offices of Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)


Rising Political Star went to Jake, in the office of Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.)


Elder Statesdog honors went to Camembert, in the office of Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.).


Finally, Best Briefed honors went to Como, in the office of Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.).


As for the prize: dog biscuits and a plaque with a quotation from President Harry S. Truman: "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog."

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-- Johanna Neuman

Photo credits: Humane Society of the United States