Remembering September 11, and Honoring Service Dogs

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”.

the sky and horizon on september 12 2001
September 12, 2001

Other bloggers recount the day

It’s really important to tell our stories, both of our personal experiences and our collective memories. This is what truly makes history for me, and makes me feel connected to my society, though I may not even know or have never met the authors.

Gwen Cooper, author of Homer’s Odyssey, lived a block from the World Trade Center, had gone to work on the other side of the World Trade Cener from her apartment, evacuated and could not get back to Homer, Scarlett and Vashti for several days. Read her post from last year, remembering Homer who had only recently passed, and better yet, read her book including her own experiences of that day and the days following, as well as her ultimate rescue of Homer. Her site has quite a bit of traffic, so if you can’t get to the blog post, just come back later.

Cathy Keisha, a girl from Jersey, lets her pop recount his experiences being evacuated in the hours after the towers collapsed.

The Dogfiles offers a video showing the faces of over 300 search and rescue dogs of 9/11.

Tamar Arslanian of I Have Cat shares her memories from the day, and the days after, and Obsidian Kitten shares a brief memory from the morning of 9/11 who lived close, whose life might have been completely changed, and a shoe store owner whose generosity brought comfort to many as they walked to safety that morning. Dona Nobis Pacem

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

Search and Rescue Dogs

We humans have often taken our animal helpers for granted through history, especially the dogs who willingly serve us with their special talents. Human searchers at Ground Zero and Fresh Kills wore respirators and polyethylene suits; the search and rescue dogs wore nothing. But even as people would not abandon their pets during Hurricane Katrina, which brought about a change in the way pets are considered during evacuations, so the animals who served and suffered made change in the way search and rescue dogs are prepared for their job.

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.

Two stories tell about the recent changes:

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.

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.

Read about Bretagne (pronounced “Brittany”), the oldest living search and rescue dog from Ground Zero who went back to visit the monument with her handler this year.

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. Vetstreet also features a slideshow of The Many Faces of 9/11 Hero Dogs.

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.

And that Budweiser commercial…the Budweiser Clydesdales, a commercial only aired once.

Browse some rescued cats and kittens—browse here or visit PittsburghCAT!

cats and kittens
Gallery view of Pittsburgh CAT cats for adoption.

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 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, factual articles and fictional stories, "The Creative Cat" offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

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