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Noah 2

Betty Schmit holds Noah, a blind dog from Mineral Point, during a recent visit to Upland Hills Health’s Nursing and Rehab Center in Dodgeville. Noah and his owner, Lisa Edge, visit schools and nursing homes across southwestern Wisconsin to teach about bullying and differences. 

While Mineral Point resident Lisa Edge’s dog, Noah, didn’t make it to the finals for a national competition, it hasn’t stopped the pair from spreading their anti-bullying message.

Noah, a blind bichon poodle mix with deformed hind legs, was a semifinalist in the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards, a national competition that acknowledges the achievements of dogs and their owners.

Voting for the competition closed July 22 and Edge heard back from organizers via email at the beginning of July that Noah didn’t make it to the final round.

“Of course we were disappointed,” Edge said. “However, the way I look at it, I wasn’t even expecting him to make it to this point being that he’s only a year and a half.”

Noah, who often scoots around via a customized wheelchair, competed in the “emerging hero” category, and was one of 24 semifinalists across eight categories. Other categories included rescue and therapy dogs.

Edge said she plans to enter Noah into the competition again next year.

The two visit schools and nursing homes across southern Wisconsin to educate about accepting differences and bullying.

Edge’s goal is to teach people to feel empathy for Noah, rather than sympathy.

She said people often underestimate him because of his disabilities, but when Noah begins to move around he quickly proves his differences don’t stop him from living a happy and normal life.

Edge rescued Noah a little over a year ago from a backyard breeder in California. She owns four other disabled dogs: Yorkies Lexi and Tater Tot and Malteses Amazing Grace and Nicky.

While campaigning for Noah is no longer at the top of Edge’s to-do list, she said the two are staying plenty busy.

Along with their typical visits to school programs and nursing homes, they’ve recently begun making meet-and-greet appearances at local businesses, including a stop at Milio’s Sandwiches in Platteville last week.

Edge said those events allow Noah to interact with an even wider range of people, as their typical audience consists of either very young or elderly people.

When Edge returns to her teaching position with the Mineral Point School District in the fall, she said she and Noah have no plans to be any less active.

“We’ll still be fairly busy, but it will be at different times, and we’ll be going about things in different ways,” she said.

She has some free time in her schedule come fall and said she hopes to fill that time with more school visits.

“If it’s for education, there’s probably nowhere we wouldn’t drive to within reason,” she said.