Gewirtz has written 16 books — "Pugs for Dummies" and "Fetch This Book" among them — and countless columns and articles for dog-related magazines.
This year, she was one of the judges sorting through the hundreds of print and online nominations, covering books, magazines, blogs, calendars, newspaper articles and more.
Ranny Green, a former sportswriter, editor and columnist who retired from the Seattle Times in 2008, fought tears as he accepted his prize for an online article about therapy dogs who comforted people in Newtown, Conn., after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.
Green has been at least a part-time dog writer since the 1970s, when a piece he wrote about adopting a dog brought more reader letters and phone calls than any of his previous stories. "That told me something," said Green, who convinced his editors to start a pet column. "They were floored by how much response we got."
Eve Adamson, who was honored for her article on dachshunds and hemangiosarcoma, a deadly canine cancer, had flown in from her home in Iowa City to receive her award.
"I would say the No. 1 response I get when I say I'm a dog writer is: 'There's such a thing as a dog writer?'" said Adamson, who has also written dozens of books on food, health and non-pet topics. It was a freelance assignment in the 1990s — "How to Assemble a Puppy Starter Kit" — that launched her writing career.
Most dog writers don't do it full time.
But there is an emotional draw that dog writers, even part-time ones, say brings them back to their subjects.
"They're like kids to a lot of people. They really are," Cardillino said. "And they're man's best friend."