Celebrating 40 Years of Amazing Animals: Dallas

Animals are not just our companions, they are our heroes – guarding our homes, working as service dogs, and even rescuing their families from burning buildings. As TVMF celebrates its 40th Anniversary, we want to take a moment to recognize some of the extraordinary animals that have been inducted into the Texas Animal Hall of Fame.

In this week’s edition, we’d like to honor TVMF’s Texas Animal Hall of Fame winner, a Belgian Shepherd Mix named Dallas.

Inducted: 1996
Owned by: Truman W. Smith Children’s Care Center
Nominated by: Dr. Thayne Pittman

The hall’s first “companion” inductee, Dallas was nominated to the Truman W. Smith Children’s Care Center in Gladewater by Texas Hearing and Service Dogs. The center, dedicated to the long-term care of medically fragile or terminally ill children, houses about 120 children, whose conditions and prognoses vary. A resident of the center, Brandon First, was chosen to be Dallas’ caretaker and the two of them quickly became best friends. Brandon, 17 at the time of induction, suffers from epidermis bullosa, a congenital condition that causes his skin to blister severely, internally and externally. Dallas provides Brandon with moral support, especially during daily whirlpool treatments, and sleeps in his room at night, while Brandon makes sure Dallas is fed, given water and taken outside.

Dallas also became friends with everyone else at the center. He is gentle with the smaller, more profoundly affected children, and more active and playful with the larger ones. With permission, he loves to get in bed with the children and snuggle up to them. Dallas’ story of tender attentiveness and endless affection for Brandon and the center’s other residents has brightened their often difficult lives and been a shining example of the strength of the human-animal bond. As one of Dallas’ trainers described him, he is truly an “angel in disguise.”