Wreaths Across America annually honors individuals who represent the best of the best when it comes to serving the organization's mission to remember, honor and teach. This year a new category of award was created to recognize the efforts of military service animals.

The first annual Military Service Animal award is inspired by Peter the Caisson Horse recently adopted by the Worcester family. The award was presented to U.S. Army Captain Leslie Nicole Smith (Retired) last week during the 3rd Annual WAA-United States Patent and Trade Office Military Association's Service and Recognition Awards Ceremony on behalf of her service dog Issac.

According to CAPT. Smith, Issac is an eight to eight-and-a-half-year-old yellow lab/retriever mix trained by the Marines incarcerated in the military brig at Camp Lejeune North Carolina. She and Issac met for the first time in October of 2009 and bonded almost immediately.

"We were meant to be together," Leslie explained during her acceptance speech. "Issac was a stray picked up by a shelter, but he was so wild and rambunctious no one wanted to adopt him, so he was scheduled to be euthanized. He only had twenty-four hours to live, and at the end of my deployment to Bosnia I developed this blood clot and wound up being placed on imminent death status when I arrived at Walter Reed."

Leslie went on to describe her raw emotional pain and anguish when she was sent home with Issac and had to cope with the reality she was an amputee, and legally blind.

"It was not until that next morning that I realized the depth of Issac's understanding and compassion and the bond that we have. I sat down and started to cry, and he positioned himself right in front of me. With the most gentle little kisses using the very tip of his tongue like a little butterfly he licked the tears off my cheek as if he was saying, 'Mom, I've got you, don't worry I'm right here with you."

Captain Leslie Smith and her service dog Issac pictured here with Karen and Morrill Worcester during WAA-UMA awards and recognition ceremony.

Captain Leslie Smith and her service dog Issac pictured here with Karen and Morrill Worcester during WAA-UMA awards and recognition ceremony.

Leslie says service dogs like Issac are making a world of difference in the healing and recovery of wounded, ill and injured service members, and she's grateful to the Worcester family and Peter the Caisson Horse for the award.

Issac is also in the running for another coveted title, the Hero Dog Award sponsored by American Humane. Leslie is hopeful you might take a few minutes to vote for Issac today so he can move into the next round of competition. You can click on this link to place your vote for Issac now. Time to vote in this round is running out quickly!

http://herodogawards.org/dog/issac/

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