Kali, a German Shepherd therapy dog from Victoria, has taken out the Puppy Tales Australian Dog of the Year award.

The Puppy Tales Australian Dog of the Year and People’s Choice Awards recognise canine companions that represent the essence of the Australian dog – love, courage, inspiration, assistance and friendship.

Kerry Martin, Founder of Puppy Tales, said in its fourth year, the Puppy Tales Australian Dog of the Year Awards reminds us yet again how incredible dogs are.

“We see how ordinary fur-citizens from around Australia have helped their people, made a difference to others and be outstanding Paw-stralians in the communities that they live in.”

The 2024 Puppy Tales Australian Dog of the Year is 12-year-old Kali, who has worked with Sharyn Thompson for nearly 11 years as a therapy dog, helping children with literacy needs via Story Dogs Australia, supporting staff and patients in the Emergency Department, Cancer Care, and the Ambulance Bay of Latrobe Regional Hospital, and providing a furry shoulder to cry on in the 2020 bushfires in East Gippsland.

“Over the past decade, Kali has done a lot to contribute to communities everywhere, from the Gippsland bushfires to Parliament to hospitals, schools and more. Her nomination was also uniquely written from Kali’s perspective,” said Martin.

The winner of the People’s Choice Award was Heidi, a 13.5-year-old Australian Cattle Dog x Koolie from Victoria who has had numerous championship titles with Dogs Australia and continues to make people’s lives happy, comforting them in times of need.

Cathy James, whose dad had extreme dementia, said that when he came home from palliative care, Heidi was his constant companion.

“Heidi was unbelievable, not leaving dad’s side in his last days. She plopped herself beside him and did not move, even when she got whacked by dad’s hand (by accident). His hands would stop and rest on her. She calmed him. It was during COVID (lock down) and nobody could visit. Heidi was dad’s constant companion and attended his funeral.”

Winners, nominees, and voters received prizes worth more than $10,000, including a $1,000 donation by Puppy Tales to the winner’s preferred charity and $250 to the People’s Choice’s nominated charity.

Kali’s chosen charity was Animal Aid, and Heidi’s chosen charity was Domestic Animal Rescue & Education (D.A.R.E Rescue).

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