By ALISSA SCOTT
In preparation for their big day in Hollywood, Karen Ann Young gave her service dog Jingles a glittery pedicure. She did, after all, win Hero Guide Dog of 2013 and a chance to meet Betty White.
"Betty White just grabbed Jing's face and gave him a big kiss right on the mouth," Young said. "She put her paw on [White's] lap and when she saw her nails she said, 'Oh my darling sweetheart, look at your nails. So glamorous.'"
Jingles, a golden retriever-Labrador cross, is Young's sixth seeing-eye dog trained by The Seeing Eye. Young was born with optic nerve hypoclasia which caused her vision to be very nearsighted and blurry. Childhood diabetes caused her sight to worsen, leaving her blind in her right eye and with a "finger count" in her left.
Jingles is unlike most service dogs in that she's trained to work in pair with Young's other service dog Maizie, a rust dachshund who monitors her sugar levels.
She entered Jingles, her extra set of eyes, into the American Human Association's Hero Dog contest. That win advanced Jingles to the "Paw-scars" award ceremony in Hollywood earlier this month. A film crew from the Hallmark Channel came to Amsterdam to get footage for a 90-minute documentary that will air Oct. 30. It will include the awards ceremony as well.
Jingles competed with seven winning dogs from other categories, but therapy dog Elle, a pitbull from North Carolina, took the top title.
"For some reason I just knew Jingles wasn't going to win it all," Young said. "But, it was such an amazing experience as it was I couldn't really be upset."
Young said the other dogs were each equally amazing and if she didn't have bias over her own dog, she would have voted for the law enforcement K9, Lakota.
Nevertheless, Young said between the gifts she and her dogs were showered with, ranging from dog toys to custom made collars and leads to a seven-foot-tall banner with pictures and Jingle's winning title written on it, and being treated "like royalty" at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, she couldn't have asked for a better experience.
Each dog was also given $1,500 to present to the charity of their owners' choice. Young chose The Seeing Eye, the agency that trained Jingles, as well as four other of service dogs over the years.
As the group of winning dog owners waited for the awards ceremony day to arrive, Young said they became like a family.
"It was like a homecoming when we made it there," Young said. "It was like a holiday. Too brief, lots of memories, and too much time in between the next time we'll see each other."