Bretagne was the last of the 9/11 search and rescue dogs to be laid to rest. The above video show the honor given her by the officers (video says it is Houston firefighters) as she takes her final steps. There were many American heroes in the aftermath of 9/11. These dogs were among them. The rest of this post is the first one I wrote about the dogs on the anniversary of the attack.
We have all heard that heroes come in all shapes and sizes; sometimes the most unassuming person rises to the occasion and meets the challenge. And sometimes it is a very special type of animal, a rescue dog. In the aftermath of 9/11 bombings, the world’s largest deployment of rescue dogs were used to search for survivors, working tirelessly with their handlers, searching the ruins, and according to witnesses, giving great comfort to the workers. Dutch photographer Charlotte Dumas has published a book called Retrieved, featuring the surviving dogs in their final years. Read more and check out the pictures of these wonderful dogs here in this Daily Mail article.
Many of these dogs have heart wrenching stories. One of the most well known and celebrated of the rescue dogs is Jake. He was found abandoned and injured, with a dislocated hip and broken leg. Adopted when he was 10 months old by Mary Flood, a member of Utah Task Force 1, a federal search and rescue team, Flood helped train Jake to become a certified rescue dog. Jake was most known for his work at Ground Zero, but he also participated in the post Katrina rescue effort. Jake helped train other dogs for this important work in his later years. Jake died in 2007, but we remember and honor him this week as one of the true heroes who served selflessly, with courage and love.
Here is a touching quote from the rescue scene:
“I volunteered to serve food to the workers at Ground Zero after 9/11. There were dogs trained to find living people. The dog handlers became worried because the day after day of not finding anyone was beginning to depress the animals. So the people took turns hiding in the rubble so that every now and then a dog could find one of them to be able to carry on.” –Sigourney Weaver.
The rescue dogs at 9/11 had thousands of hours of training before their grim task at Ground Zero. Dogs and handlers work together, usually beginning the training when the dog is just a puppy. The dogs are capable of squeezing into areas a human could never reach, and their intense sense of smell helps them find survivors.
Another quote from a ground zero witness:
“Urban Search and Rescue dogs that were deployed at Ground Zero included Australian shepherds, German shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Border Collies, Portuguese Water Dogs, Belgian Malinois, Giant Schnauzers, and even Rat Terriers. What a dog could do with its nose was invaluable in the search. What a dog could do with its heart was equally invaluable.”
The dogs were able to lift the spirits of stressed workers. Cops and firemen, as well as the handlers, took great comfort from the dogs at a time when they battled exhaustion, despair, and stress. One account states: “It was beyond amazing what a licking tongue could do to lift a crushed human spirit, restoring morale to discouraged and depressed workers at Ground Zero”
The dogs suffered injuries during the rescue effort, but vets would patch them up and the dogs would go back to work, searching the ruins for more survivors. One dog, Kaiser, had a deep cut on his foreleg, but missed only one shift. Veterinarian teams worked 12 hour shifts to care for the courageous dogs. The injuries included cuts and scapes, broken claws, lacerations, dehydration, and emotional distress. Paw injuries were common as they made their way through the hazardous rubble.
Most of these wonderful dogs are gone now, but a few are still with us today as we pause to remember all the victims, and all the heroes of September 11, 2001. Never has man had a truer, finer friend than a dog. Today we offer them the honor and respect they deserve. Friends. Warriors. Rescuers. God bless them all, and a prayer of thanksgiving to Him for gifting us with such wonderful creatures.
NOTE: IT SHOULD NOT BE NECESSARY TO SAY SO, HOWEVER: NO COMMENTS ABOUT 9/11 CONSPIRACY THEORIES WILL BE ALLOWED HERE TODAY. THANK YOU FOR YOUR COOPERATION.