EUGENE – With his famous misaligned snout and unique toothy grin, Eugene dog Picasso was honored in Portland with an Oregon Humane Society Diamond Collar Hero Award.
At almost 2 years old, the pit bull, Chihuahua and Pomeranian mix has captured worldwide attention since coming to Eugene in early 2017.
The Oregon Humane Society’s Diamond Collar Hero Awards recognize and honor animals and people who have acted to save a human or animal life in peril, performed services within the community with undying loyalty, or overcome incredible odds in order to survive.
“Picasso has overcome challenges that most dogs don’t ever have to, from surviving an assaulter to living on the streets,” said Liesl Wilhardt, Luvable Dog Rescue founder and executive director. “And he’s done it all with courage and grace.”
Picasso was left at a Southern California shelter in early 2017 with his brother, Pablo. Both were on the list for euthanizing when Wilhardt took the two dogs and brought them to Eugene’s Luvable Dog Rescue.
“Picasso’s personality and temperament is just loving and accepting to all living things, despite what he’s suffered in the past,” Wilhardt said.
Pablo died in October from a sudden brain aneurysm, which has been hard for Picasso to deal with, Wilhardt said. But despite the many challenges in his life, Picasso always finds a way to love others, she said.
“He really does touch people, especially those who look a little different like him,” she said. “Whether they were born different or had an illness or accident that led them to looking different, he’s helped and inspired so many people.”
Currently, Picasso is in training to become a certified therapy dog. Wilhardt said that while the process is extensive, Picasso’s gentle and loving nature have already put him on the path to care for others.
“He’s come so far, from being afraid to wearing a collar because of what he’s experienced in his past to winning a Diamond Collar Award,” she said.
Other winners of the Diamond Collar Hero Awards include Piper, a dog who was a victim of animal neglect and whose story has created dialogue about the intersection of animal and human abuse; Dr. Doug McInnis, a veterinarian who created the Klamath County Animal Control Task Force that connects district attorneys with animal control, law enforcement and veterinarians to address animal neglect and abuse; and Sound Equine Options, a network of foster homes that provides care, rehabilitation and training for neglected horses.
“There were so many worthy nominees for this competition, it’s humbling to have Picasso and Luvable Dog Rescue recognized,” Wilhardt said.
Picasso also has been nominated for a 2018 American Humane Hero Dog Award, an annual nationwide competition that searches out and recognizes “America’s Hero Dogs.”
Picasso has been nominated in the emerging hero dogs category, the “category for ordinary dogs that do extraordinary things.” People can vote for Picasso for an American Humane Hero Dog Award at herodogawards.org/vote.
“There are so many dogs out there with amazing stories, but Picasso is exceptional,” Wilhardt said.
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