No one can get away from the reminder this week that it is the 20th anniversary of 911, a sad and poignant time for so many. But, at the same time, there are surrounding stories of courage, bravery and hope – from that day and many after it.
And it wasn't only human loss and bravery – so many animals were part of the repercussions – from the over 300 working dogs called to help at Ground Zero, to those pets who waited at home for owners who never returned, to those who provided much needed comfort to those alive.
Do a Google search on 'dogs of 911' and read about so many wonderful dogs who came from all parts of the US and Canada to take part in the heartbreaking and backbreaking search and rescue efforts for weeks afterward. This includes Appollo, a German Shepherd who was the first search and rescue dog to enter the scene after the towers collapsed and was almost killed by fire and falling debris. He survived and kept going. And Trakr from Canada who found and alerted rescuers to a survivor who had been trapped under concrete for 27 hours.
Then there were Salty and Roselle, the only two guide dogs in the towers that day – responsible for leading their owners out of the building to safety.
Just like the human team, the dogs faced both physical and mental challenges – injuries, fatigue, and the depression when they failed to find anyone alive (the one thing that many of them were trained to do). This fact took an emotional toll – eroding the dogs' confidence and doubting their own ability. We can all learn much from their perseverance.
As well as spending most of every day for over two weeks searching through rubble, the dogs on site provided comfort and reassurance to firefighters and rescuers. Who knows what lives they saved just by being there and providing the unique ability of pets to sense our pain and help heal. Of course, at Silver Lining we know how wonderful dogs (and cats) are – whether professional working dogs, or just your own wonderful companion at home.
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New York, N.Y. (Sept. 15, 2001) — Golden Retriever SAR dog, Riley, is transported out of the debris of the World Trade Center. U.S. Navy Photo by Journalist 1st Class Preston Keres.