From pound pup to American Hero After roaming the streets of California as a stray, the big yellow Labrador MWD Gabe K153 SSD served on the battlefields of Iraq with his handler, SSgt. Charles Shuck as a Specialized Search Dog Team. Gabe and Chuck completed 210 combat missions together including ammunition and explosives finds. Gabe was the recipient of the 2008 AKC Heroic Military Working Dog Award and also the 2012 Military Hero Dog of the Year with the American Humane Association’s Hero Dog Awards. When Loreen saw the heart wrenching social media posts regarding Gabe’s sudden passing, she decided to paint a tribute painting to represent this American Hero’s bond with his handler. Part way through Gabe’s painting, Loreen decided to dedicate her life to paying tribute in this way, making Gabe’s painting the first of many heroes in the K9 Hero Portrait Project.
The K9 Hero Portrait Project was created to provide our military, law enforcement handlers and adoptive owners or retired working dogs a commemorative portrait of their K9 Hero while educating the public about the working dog’s service and career. This includes portraits for handlers who were unable to adopt their partners due to redeployment of either the soldier or the K9. Military members leave their friends and families behind, and these dogs become their new best friend, confidant, therapist and their child. The bond between a handler and these K9s is unlike any other I've seen or witnessed. For them, we create these portraits to immortalize their K9 partners.
The K9 Hero Portrait Project created by Loreen Pantaleone is a Non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that accepts a limited number of K9 Hero nominations per year to have their portraits completed and donated. The K9's must have either Military, Police, FBI or Service Dog backgrounds as these portraits are not paid for by the handlers/soldiers and owners, they receive them as "Thank Yous" from The K9 Hero Portrait Project for their service to our country. The cost of these large portraits is fronted by the K9HPP and relies on donations and sales of K9 related merchandise created from the portraits (limited edition prints and challenge coins). Non-Profit Organizationin Benton, Pennsylvania