THE BLOG

The Next Nobel Peace Prize Should Go to a Dog

10/14/2013 10:53 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

The Nobel Peace Prize Committee has veered away from bestowing the honour on individuals, instead awarding the prize to organizations, most recently the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (and before that, the European Union).

Which is all fine -- naming individuals can admittedly be fraught with difficulty and controversy (Barack Obama and Henry Kissinger come to mind). Even naming Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani advocate for female education, supposedly carried perceived risk, both for the Committee and for her safety.

The only trouble with honoring organizations is that they are typically faceless and boring, with the possible exception of the non-bureaucratic NGO Medicins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders). The European Union, while wonderful, does not stir the imagination like a Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela or Mother Theresa.

With this in mind, I would suggest the Peace Prize Committee hit the reset button and think broader about this category.

When I say broader, I mean not only outside the box -- but outside the species.

The next Nobel Peace Prize should not go to a human, or a human organization, but to man (and woman's) best friend -- the dog.

Don't laugh -- I'm serious about this.

Our canine companions have been protecting and befriending us for 10,000 years or more. Never has this been more in evidence than in our Post-9/11 world, where sniffer dogs keep us safe as travelers and risk their lives aiding and assisting in the detection of everything from land mines in southeast Asia to chemical weapons in Syria.

History is replete with examples of dog heroes. There is of course "Balto," the Siberian Husky that led the 1925 dog sled run to Nome, Alaska, carrying the diphtheria antitoxin that helped halt an epidemic. And if you want loyalty, there is the story of the Japanese Akita "Hachiko," who went to the Shibuya train station every day for nine years to await his deceased master's return. (Both dogs, incidentally, have statues erected in their honor; Balto's in New York's Central Park; Hachiko's in Shibuya).

But the real value of dogs is more subtle, in the work they do as companions to the elderly, as guide dogs, as herders and hunting companions -- and as members of our families. A good dog can not only lower individual blood pressure (as they have been scientifically proven to do), but also serve as an emotional bridge for family members who have difficulty finding common ground.

The Nobel Peace Prize Committee, uniquely, is a Norwegian and not a Swedish affair. This should make the selection all that much easier. Norwegians love dogs and understanding their utility, thanks in part to polar explorer and national hero Roald Amundsen, who extolled canines (over ponies) for their devotion and tenacity.

Now I know someone out there will bring up the cat as a worthy winner. Please. I like cats well enough, but the ability to use a litter box is not Nobel-worthy.

One issue that might arise with the selection of the dog is the ceremony... and the acceptance speech.

Fear not. Our yellow Labrador, "Tashi" could fit the bill, not only giving the event Canadian content, but a mercifully short speech. I can assure you she has helped keep the peace in our family for years.