Four-legged Heroes

I am a Very Bad Blogger. My beautiful sister-in-law married her best friend this weekend, and the wedding happened to take place on the same piece of property where we live!

Our Family (we are on the far right)

While it was a joyous occasion, it certainly caused my blogging to take a back seat. Now, after a celebratory weekend of love & family, it is time to get back to the blogging basics.

I’m sure you all are well aware that today marks the 11th anniversary of the attacks on the twin towers and the Pentagon. Today gives us all an opportunity to remember those affected by the tragedy, and also to stand proud in observance of our nation’s pride & heritage.

Without fail, we remember those individuals who sacrificed their own lives, or the lives of loved ones, during the events, as well as in response to the attacks. We can never repay the debts we owe to the courageous soldiers, fire fighters, and police officers, to name a few.

While it is expected that we pause in rememberance of those who gave their lives, often times we forget to recognize those four-legged heroes. These animals may not have made the choice to defend our nation’s honor, but they certainly contributed to the cause nonetheless.

In the wake of the attacks, over 350 search & rescue dogs responded to the scenes of Ground Zero and the Pentagon. These dogs were responsible for identifying 1/3 of the remains that were eventually discovered. The canine responders worked for 16 hours a day, and typically stayed on site for 7 to 14 days each. In 2011, it was reported that only 12 of the dogs that reported to Ground Zero in response to the attacks, were still alive. Among the most popular dog breeds to be used were German Shepherds, Australian Shepherds, Belgian Shepherds, Yellow Labradors, Black Labradors, Chocolate Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Portuguese Waterdogs, Belgian Malinois, Border Collies, and Rat Terriers.

One such rescue dog, a belgian shepherd named Hansen, stands out for his incredible dedication and longevity to the search. Although he passed away in 2004, Hansen received a replica statue on Long Island, for 150 days of service at Ground Zero, the longest of any canine involved.

Hansen & his statue

In addition to the search & rescue dogs, 300 trained therapy dogs were deployed to aid in the comfort of victims. Not to be forgotten are the seeing eye dogs that rescued their companions. Salty & Roselle were two labrador retrievers that guided their blind owners to safety, maneuvering them down thousands of steps, through blinding smoke, deafening noise, and trembling ground.

Salty & Roselle, posing with their owners, after leading them to safety down 71 flights of stairs

My favorite story from the tragedy? At least 3 of these brave search & rescue dogs were  American Pit Bull Terriers. Their names were Cheyenne, Tahoe, and Dakota, and they travelled all the way from California. Not only did they aid in the search & rescue portion of the efforts, but these brave pooches are also certified therapy dogs.

Dakote, Tahoe, & Cheyenne

Let us all take a moment to remember all who have sacrificed & served to protect our country and our freedom… both of the two-legged and four-legged variety. Hug your family and pups a little closer tonight.

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