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America's Top Canine Hero to be Chosen by Internet Voters

NEW YORK - Just after Sept. 11, 2001, the moist nose of a dog named Jake searched for signs of life at ground zero, his sore paws scaling heaps of jagged rubble night after night.

Now the black Labrador from Utah is up for an international award honoring heroic dogs.

Jake is among six U.S. nominees for Canine World Hero - to be chosen by Internet voters. The winning dog is to be recognized in August in Washington, D.C., with a cement paw print at a Hollywood-style canine Walk of Fame. Voting was scheduled to begin earlier this month.

Jake and his owner, Mary Flood, are on 24-hour call, year round, to respond to disasters as members the Federal Emergency Management Agency's 27 search-and-rescue units, and as volunteers for Utah's Rocky Mountain Rescue Dogs.

Jake is a four-legged mirror to the humans he's out to save: He's a survivor, too.

Flood adopted him about six years ago after he was abandoned, a puppy with a broken leg and a dislocated hip. He's now a muscular 82-pound animal trained to tackle disasters like building collapses, earthquakes and floods.

Puerto Rico and nine foreign countries - Argentina, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Mexico and South Korea - also are choosing their own outstanding service canines.

Among the other U.S. nominees are Roselle, a Labrador from Novato, Calif., who guided her blind master to safety from the 78th floor of a World Trade Center tower on Sept. 11; Peekaboo, a Papillon from Tucson, Ariz., who assists a woman suffering from terminal vascular disease; Crazy Joe, a Labrador working as a drug detector in New York; and Remington, a Capitol Hill explosives-sniffing Labrador.

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