Remembering September 11, and the Service Dogs Who Were At Our Side

american flag
The flag against the blue sky.

Aside from being in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States, I am nowhere near New York or Washington DC. I am, however, barely an hour away from Shanksville. On the morning of September 11, 2001 I was just finishing work in my garden and a coat of white paint on my wooden chairs when the first plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Thinking it was an unfortunate accident I continued listening to the radio for details and shortly thereafter heard that a second plane had hit the South Tower and knew instinctively, as I’m sure we all did, that it was no accident.

My radar for tragedy was sensitized; just a few months before my mother had unexpectedly nearly died after lung cancer surgery, held on for six weeks then miraculously awakened from a near-coma one day and gone on to recover, rehabilitate and return home. The previous year my brother had suffered a traumatic brain injury in an accident. I was integral to their recoveries and care, and my carefully-planned self-employment was unraveling.

After the plane hit the Pentagon, I put Moses, my garden cat, inside the basement, much to her consternation, as if she needed to be protected from what might be happening, and as the story grew I thought of my mother and brother and if I should get them and put them somewhere just to make sure they were safe too. Then in the growing quiet, in that empty perfect clear blue September sky, a single plane went overhead and my hackles rose, a cold tingle running to my fingers on that warm morning as I watched it seeming to struggle through the sky overhead. Shortly thereafter we heard about the crash in Shanksville and I imagined the perfect green rolling hills bathed in sun, now wrenched open and strewn with the wreckage of violence.

It wasn’t until the next day that the reality hit me as I visited my mother and watched her TV. I posted my memories of that day and that time on my photo blog “Today” in “September 12”.

search and rescue dog
Cassie, one of the search and rescue dogs I've had the pleasure to know, provided by her person.

Last year on September 11, so many stories appeared about the dogs who served on 9/11, new books have been written, profiles of the dogs still alive who served, and the veterinarians who served the dogs. Here are links to those stories; this will take a while to read through, and if you’re as quick to tears as I am, grab the tissues and take it slowly.

But first, Pets for Patriots has a 9/11 challenge for you to help veterans returning from service who need a service dog: “Pets for Patriots is laying down the gauntlet with our first 9/11 Challenge: for 2,000 people to pledge $11 a month to support our troops and the influx of post-9/11 veterans entering our charitable program.”


An extended interview on Fresh Air with Cynthia Otto about the the Working Dog Center at Penn Vet and how dogs are trained for search and rescue in Detection Dogs Trained at New Center to Save Lives.


Thank you Texas, a Cat in New York, for sharing the video Remembering 9-11 and All the Heroes.


On PetMD Dr. Patrick Mahaney recounts his own experiences in Washington DC at that time in Commemorating the 11th Anniversary of 9/11: Penn Vet Working Dog Center Holds its Grand Opening


Pets Advisor remembers the service of a list of service dogs in 9/11 Search Dogs – Remembering Their Service


Trakr was famous because he located the last human survivor at Ground Zero on A Tonk’s Tail… err, Tale…: An Unusual 9/11 Tribute, and this year they remember the Therapy Dogs who assisted people after 9/11.


In her photo book, “Retrieved,” sharpshooter Charlotte Dumas has lovingly compiled portraits of 15 search-and-rescue dogs who worked at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in  Retrieved: A New Book Featuring 9/11 Search and Rescue Dogs – Vetstreet. This year Vetstreet features a slideshow of The Many Faces of 9/11 Hero Dogs.


Alongside firemen and other teams sorting through the debris, the dogs worked around the clock to locate survivors in the rubble on Hero dogs of 9/11 by Charlotte Dumas | The Daily Tail | Dog & Cat Stories.


goodnewsforpets quietly remembers the search dogs that helped, sharing Steve Dale’s column Inside Ground Zero and the late Mordecai Siegal’s Paw Prints in the Dust, the New York City-based American Kennel Club honors this special breed of hero, and in Canine’s Role in Search and Rescue, FEMA tells us how urban search and rescue dogs are now used.


Within hours of the collapse of the World Trade Center towers that morning, the NYPD called the Animal Medical Center asking for veterinarians to come to Ground Zero and care for the dogs working there in  9/11: Ten Years Later « Fur the Love of Pets.


I don’t know how you can scroll through this gallery and not get emotional about both dogs and people, Dog Heroes of September 11 | Steve Dale’s Pet World.


On the 10th anniversary of 9-11, a special edition of Kilgore Bauer’s book, “Dog Heroes of September 11th” (Kennel Club Books, Allenhurst, NJ; $26.95) was released, including a foreword by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Never Forget 9-11 and the Search and Rescue Dogs Who Served Our Country | Steve Dale’s Pet World.


Whereas human searchers at Fresh Kills wore respirators and polyethylene suits; the search and rescue dogs wore nothing, and Petside posted a follow up on their health in The Health of 9/11 Search and Rescue Dogs | Petside, and this year they offer Remembering September 11: Homage to the “Hero Dogs of 9/11


And last year on the tenth anniversary, this era’s Rin Tin Tin, a twelfth generation relative of the original puppy found on the battlefields of France during World War I, rang the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange at Rin Tin Tin rings closing bell at NYSE in honor of 9/11 dogs | The Daily Tail | Dog & Cat Stories.

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.

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From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, The Creative Cat offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats. From catchy and creative headlines to factual articles and fictional stories, The Creative Cat provides constant entertainment and important information to people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

2 thoughts on “Remembering September 11, and the Service Dogs Who Were At Our Side

  • September 11, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Wow, that is quite a list of good things to read. I am going to have to come back and read it all. I sure didn’t realize there were so many dogs involved but it makes sense. Thanks so much for all this info.
    We think that Splitters is beautiful to us and who cares about fame. We sure don’t.
    Take care and hope all the fur babies are good especially all those black kids.

  • September 11, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    Thank you so much for including us in your list! We are heading over now to read some of the others. It’s a solemn day we’ll never, ever forget.


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