Magna dog makes good, meets Betty White
TV awards show • Holly — Shanna Wilkinson’s Shetland shepherd — wins a Hero Dog Award.
Published: November 2, 2012 02:22PM
Updated: March 6, 2013 11:31PM
Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune Shanna Wilkinson and her dog Holly, 11, demonstrate agility at the West Jordan Library and Event Center. Holly, a seizure alert dog from Magna, won the top spot in the service dog category of the Hero Dog Awards given by the American Humane Association and Hallmark Channel. Holly will be honored at an Oct. 6 gala in Beverly Hills and will be part of a special airing Nov. 2 on the Hallmark Channel.

The 2012 Hero Dog Awards featured celebrities such as Naomi Judd, Miranda Lambert, Michael Vartan, Pauley Perrette, Whoopi Goldberg — and Holly, a Shetland sheepdog from Magna.

“She loved Betty White,” said Holly’s owner, Shanna Wilkinson. “Betty White was stroking her hair, and Holly just looked at her like, ‘Yeah, you’re cool.’ ”

Holly wasn’t just a guest at the ceremonies at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, site of the annual Golden Globe Awards. She was the winner in the service dog category.

When Wilkinson was 17, she began having seizures. And Holly — trained in agility, obedience and herding — began alerting her owner a few minutes before a seizure would come on — something that “cannot be trained. It’s a natural instinct the dog has.”

Wilkinson nominated Holly, and 3 million online votes later, they were on their way to Beverly Hills to pick up their award.

“Tonight we honor some of the most extraordinary heroes the world has ever known,” said Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane Association, “the very best of our best friends — ordinary dogs who do extraordinary things.

“These courageous canines have gone above and beyond the call of duty, saving lives on the battlefield, comforting the ill, aged and afflicted, bringing hope to those who have lost it and reminding us the powerful, age-old bond between animals and people.”

Kristin Chenoweth hosted the ceremonies, which honored dogs in eight categories — emerging hero; military; law enforcement/arson; search-and-rescue; therapy; guide dogs; hearing dogs; and Holly’s category, service dogs.

For Wilkinson, the awards show felt like the Oscars for the canine set.

“You see events like that on TV and you go, ‘Oh, it’s not really like that.’ And it was really like that,” Wilkinson said. “The red carpet was mobbed with the photographers, and the celebrities were fantastic.”

Holly was one of those celebrities, as fans — and other celebrities — clamored to have their picture taken with her.

“Holly has fans all over the world. Everyone knows Holly,” Wilkinson said with a laugh. “She’s got a big Facebook page.”

And given that she’s a trained service dog, she took all the attention in stride. “She’s used to situations with a lot of people and a lot of noise,” Wilkinson said. “She was really good.”

Stay! for the Hero Dog Awards

The awards show, which was taped in October, will air Thursday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m. on the Hallmark Channel.

More • Find Holly, the Shetland sheepdog from Magna, on Facebook/servicedogholly.