German shepherd from Centerville is national Service Dog of the Year

Atlas the Wonderdog is a local canine celebrity.

He was named the 2017 American Humane Service Dog of the Year in an awards ceremony.

U.S. Marine veteran Kenny Bass of Centerville nominated Atlas.

“He’s an incredible dog,” Bass said tonight during a Skype interview from a New York City hotel room.

Bass, 36, was hit by a roadside bomb while serving in Iraq in 2003. He suffered a traumatic brain injury, and has been suffering from post-traumatic stress.

The pair just last month celebrated five years together. The 6½-year-old German shepherd already was named Atlas, but Bass upgraded his name to Atlas the Wonderdog.

“He’s earned that name every day,” the father of three said.

Atlas earned the most online votes to capture the service dog award. Along with his claim to fame, $2,500 will be donated to the Battle Buddy Foundation, which Bass co-founded to help provide service dogs to veterans.

The “original Battle Buddy,”  Atlas has a Facebook page with 18,000 followers, and the Battle Buddy Foundation’s Facebook page has a quarter-million followers, Bass said.

In his nomination, Bass called Atlas his “lifesaver.”

“I was lost until I found Atlas. ... Atlas is a grounding and solid presence when flashbacks, hyper-vigilance and the lingering effects of war begin again to creep up my spine. Atlas has been trained to sense these changes in me and then acts to redirect my attention and focus during these overwhelming instances. Whether it is to nudge my hand if I am getting anxious, wake me up in the throes of a nightmare or just stand behind me so I know someone has my back,” Bass wrote.

He and Atlas will be in attendance at a watch party from 7:15 to 10:15 p.m. Wednesday at Bennett’s Publical Family Sports Grill, 67 S. Main St., Miamisburg. 

Earlier this week, Bass and Atlas appeared on national news stations, but they were stuck in New York for another night after ice forced the cancellations today of several flights leaving La Guardia Airport. Bass and Atlas are expected to fly out Wednesday morning.

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