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 today, remembering Homer who 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.

Our friends at Zee & Zoey offer a moment of silence.

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

Our friend Layla of Cat Wisdom 101 moved to the US from Canada just six weeks before September 11, 2001, and married six weeks after, and has written a series of articles on her personal blog through the years.

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

K-9 Disaster Relief premieres Hero Dogs of 9/11 on Animal Planet.

And Tamar Arslanian of I Have Cat shares the somber tribute from the Budweiser Clydesdales, a commercial only aired once.

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

Through the years so many stories have 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.


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 also Remembering September 11: Homage to the “Hero Dogs of 9/11


And 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.

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2 thoughts on “Remembering September 11, and Honoring Service Dogs

  • September 11, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    This is an exceptional post Bernadette; I knew a gal who took her two service dogs to NYC to assist with the search and rescue……XXXXXXXX and we need to leave this comment…at that….

    • September 11, 2013 at 1:28 pm

      You bet, Tabbies, and we can’t forget–our animal companions are always there for us, whether it’s a search and rescue or just a hug.


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