Dog that saved owner up for award

Tatiana, the hearing assistance dog, needs your vote

Published On: Aug 10 2012 03:08:05 PM EDT   Updated On: Aug 12 2012 11:00:00 PM EDT

A Plantation hearing assistance dog has already been credited with saving her owner's life. And now, 3-year-old Tatiana is a finalist for a national Hero Dog award.

Tatiana, a black lab-golden retriever mix, is always ready to assist her owner, Cristina Saint-Blancard.

"Tatiana's main job is to be my ears and alert me to sounds that I may not hear on my own," said Saint-Blancard.

Saint-Blancard has profound hearing loss and also suffers from severe asthma attacks, sometimes in the middle of the night.

Last year, one such episode happened while she was sleeping. Tatiana, however, was vigilant.

"She'll keep one eye closed and she has one eye open and she'll watch my every move,” said Saint-Blancard.

Sensing Saint-Blancard had trouble breathing, Tatiana went for help, alerting Saint-Blancard's parents.

"I was already very pale and I was blue around the lips and I was not breathing,” said Saint-Blancard.

Paramedics arrived just in time.

"She literally saved my life,” said Saint-Blancard. ”She truly is a hero.”

The bond between Saint-Blancard and Tatiana grew even stronger after the incident, and Saint-Blancard nominated her companion for Hero Dog of the Year, which Tatiana won in the Hearing Dog category.

Saint-Blancard used the $5,000 prize to train more canine helpers for Dogs for the Deaf.

Life's not all work for Tatiana. She enjoys time at the pool with her friends, other dogs in Canine Companions for Independence training program.

She also walked across the stage when Saint-Blancard earned her Master's Degree in Bio-Medical Engineering. Tatiana even got her own honorary degree.

”It was one of the most happiest days of my life, not only because of the struggle I've had to get there, but because I did it with the most special person I could think of with her," she said. "I think that was the most special thing, or most special day I've had in probably my life.

Saint-Blancard and Tatiana will also travel to California in October to compete with the seven other finalists for the overall Hero Dog award.

The winner will get another $10,000 for their charity and national television exposure.

If you would like to vote, click here.