ST. LOUIS MO — American Humane, a national animal welfare organization, has announced the five finalists for its annual Hero Dog Awards. The list includes a St. Louis area pup from Ballwin who is set to compete for the top prize.

Lifesaving service dog Moxie, a mini goldendoodle from Ballwin, helped her handler find hope and purpose again when a rare disease robbed her of the ability to walk for several years, leaving her suicidal.

The voting for the Hero Dog Awards is now closed, and the winners will be announced on November 10.

Katie Harris is Moxie’s owner, and she works as a social worker. Harris, who used to play sports in college, never thought she would become disabled. All of that changed in 2018, when her health got so bad that she could no longer walk. This turned her life upside down.

Harris got Moxie as a puppy in 2018 and began training her to be a service dog with the help of the American Service Dog Association. She named the goldendoodle Moxie, which is a word that means having spirit and courage.

Harris and Moxie’s story:

Katie Harris was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome in 2013. This is a rare genetic disease that affects the body’s connective tissues. Over the years, she had a number of painful symptoms, such as temporary vision loss, numbness in her arms, seizures, and having to wear a neck brace because her ligaments were getting weaker, which eventually led to a neck fusion.

Her life was full of trips to the hospital, operations, and pain that never went away. By 2018, her health had gotten so bad that she could no longer walk and had to use a wheelchair. This made her feel very sad and alone.

During this hard time, Harris’ loyal service dog, Moxie, gave her hope and a sense of purpose. Moxie’s love and loyalty never wavered, which was a huge help during many medical procedures and trips to the hospital.

Harris and Moxie set out to make the lives of people with disabilities better because of their own experiences. Harris set up a non-profit group to give free service dogs to people who needed them.

She did this because she knew how expensive it was to get a service dog. Together, they go to schools all over the country to talk about challenges, encourage acceptance, and teach the next generation to be kind and caring.

More about Moxie:

Moxie helps her handler every day by doing things like picking up items, opening and closing doors, and letting her handler know about low blood pressure and other medical emergencies. This hero dog lives up to her name by doing everything with spirit and bravery.

Her owner says that Moxie has a gift. Moxie’s talent is that she cares deeply about other people and can connect with them. She says that Moxie has a natural ability to make people happy and make them smile, even when things are hard.