SAN DIEGO - A dog from Escondido who surfs with special needs children and people with disabilities for therapeutic purposes is in the running to be named the inaugural winner of the American Humane Association Hero Dog Award this weekend.
The winner is expected to be announced Saturday at a ceremony in Beverly Hills, culminating a six-month nationwide search.
Ricochet, the surfer who has helped raise thousands of dollars for various causes, is one of eight finalists chosen from among 453 nominees from all 50 states.
Each finalist won $5,000 to be donated to one of the American Humane Association's charity partners. The winner will receive an additional $10,000 for his or her charity.
The other finalists are: -- Bino, a Dutch shepherd who served with the 35th Military Police Detachment at Fort Gordon in Augusta, Ga., for nearly 11 years, including a 14- month tour in Iraq, and on special anti-narcotics missions with the Border Patrol;
-- Harley, a hearing dog from Fountain Hills, Ariz., who has given his owner self-confidence and a feeling of equality with others that she had not experienced before;
-- Roselle, a guide dog from Novato, Calif., who worked at the World Trade Center and directed her handler down 1,463 stairs following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks;
-- Sadie, a Labrador retriever from Westminster, Colo., a certified accelerant detection dog who works with the Major Crimes Unit of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and has worked on approximately 400 fires and assisted in cases resulting in numerous arrests;
-- Sage, a search and rescue dog from Hagerman, N.M., who detected the remains of a terrorist in the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon and has also been involved in the searches for survivors of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the missing teenager Natalee Holloway;
-- Stacey Mae, a Greater Swiss Mountain dog and therapy dog from Guffey, Colo., who has helped collect thousands of Teddy bears from around the world for hospitalized children; and
-- Zurich, a Labrador retriever from Des Plaines, Ill., a certified service dog.
The ceremony will be shown Nov. 11 on the Hallmark Channel.