The Dogs of 9/11

photoWe all remember the attacks of September 11th that took place a decade ago, and we will never forget the efforts of those that helped our country in its darkest hours. The firemen, the police, and the rescue teams that scoured the rubble in search of survivors are forever in our hearts and memory. Along-side these rescue teams, over one hundred dogs and their handlers traversed the remains of the World Trade Center, using their skills to aid in their rescue efforts.

Dogs search for survivors

Kiaser, a German Sheppard, arrived at the aftermath to aid in the search for survivors. Assigned to a twelve hour nightshift, the “live” search dog and handler traversed the rubble in search of any living souls. Though he never alerted to finding a survivor, he was trained well enough to hint that there was someone there, assisting the other crews retrieving victim’s bodies so that they could be properly buried. Kiaser spent ten days sifting through the remains of the twin towers, but was unable to find any survivors. He did bring something special to the rescue team; not only were his efforts welcomed, but his comfort was needed as well.

Bretagne, a young golden retriever, was introduced to Ground Zero for her first rescue mission. Though fresh to the scene, she was full of energy and did not tire in her efforts. Alongside her handler, Bretagne searched the rubble for ten days, offering hope to the fellow firefighters whom would stop on occasion to recharge themselves with the retriever’s comforts.

Just doing my job

Charlie wasn’t alone during his own searches. Searching beside and even long after the “live” search dogs, the NYPD K9 department deployed their own efforts to help recover the remains of the victims of such treacherous attacks. These teams scoured the rubble for the eight months following the attacks of 9/11, searching for fallen comrades and comforting the rescue teams.

Offering a special kind of relief

Nickie the Golden Retriever and his handler volunteered their assistance to Ground Zero, where they would spend eight months helping the people, in a slightly different way. Nickie, trained as a trauma patient dog, brought spirit to the turmoil, offering comfort to those who would endure such harsh experiences. It is sometimes amazing how special it actually is to merely pet a dog. The comfort and familiarity of a dog can bring a smile back with the wag of a tail. Nickie’s efforts were not sifting through the aftermath, but instead, sifting through the rubble of broken hearts.

More than just a friend

These dogs are just a few names amongst the vast number of dog and man teams that put their efforts to help our country in its time of need. They went in full force, never questioning their job. Boots to protect their paws couldn’t be used so that their nails and paws could gain traction on the slippery rubble which often shifted further, presenting dangerous situations for everyone. Now in their older years, most of the pups have passed on, leaving only fourteen, all of which have retired and are enjoying the company of their handlers. These dogs of 9/11 are indeed appreciated for their heroic efforts- helping the teams cope with the traumatic events, and staying by our side when we needed them most, proving that you don’t have to be human to be a hero.

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