EUGENE, Ore. -- Eugene resident Debra Hamilton's Labrador, Ryerson, is a distinguished dog. Not because of the gray fur on his muzzle, but rather the distinguished honor he received Sunday of being inducted into the Oregon Animal Hall-Of-Fame.
Ryerson, a service dog, was nominated in this year's professional category by his veterinarian.
Debra started losing her vision at 20. In an unfamiliar environment, she can only see shadows. Now Debra relies on Ryerson to help her see the world around her.
"I can see that there's something over there and I know it's a chair, because I've sat in it,” said Hamilton, giving her companion a pat as he sat by her side. “He's the best pair of eyes in the world."
To become a guide dog for the blind, Ryerson had to complete 8 phases of training. He went through another 3 months of training to earn an even more prestigious title.
“He was the first wheelchair guide trained in the west,” Hamilton said.
“I’m happy for him because he's truly recognized for all he's accomplished."
Looks like someone else in the house might not think Ryerson is the cat's meow.
In spite of the recent award, Debra insists there's no sibling rivalry in the home.
“No, the cats do not become jealous of him because of the awards or the honors,” laughed Hamilton.
The Oregon Veterinary Medical Association and Oregon Animal Health Foundation induct 3 companion animal hall-of-famers each year.
Also inducted this year was Lily the Lakeland Terrier, a certified therapy dog from Corvallis. The Veterinary Medical Association said that Lily has become an integral part of the Corvallis community through her service work and devotion to helping others.
A third inductee is Hunter, a German short-haired pointer who helped save a woman’s life. The Veterinary Medical Association said he was recognized posthumously, as he was recently euthanized because of an advanced medical condition.