Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11 Paying tribute to the canine heroes

      Another sun has set, another anniversary day has passed, yet that wound September 11, 2001 left behind is as raw and open as it was the day that great tragedy occurred.  Nine years have passed and our lives were forever changed that day.  It was a tragedy that today seems to need no introduction in great detail, the simple  text : 9/11 brings with it every image and  every piece of information that engulfed the public that day.  To the nation, to the world that day the public watched in horror as the details of the day unfolded.  But to New York, we watched every moment live as our citys' heart collapsed when the towers fell.  

      Today is a day of remembrance, to honor fallen heroes, survivors, families, to heal all our hearts to pay our respects. 
 Let us also take the day to honor the unsung heroes that stood side by side to those first response heroes, side by side to those relentless rescuers.  Let us also pay tribute to the canine heroes of September 11, 2001. 

As I searched for information on the heroes of 9/11 I came across an article at , Tribute to Canine Heroes of 9/11 by Stephanie Feldstein.  She writes of the tremendous courage showed by our canine companions on that day where they rose to the name of mans best friend.  On that day 10,000 men and women answered the call of duty, 300 of those heroes were dogs.  Search dogs, guide dogs, rescue dogs, K-9s , bomb dogs, therapy dogs all came to our rescue without a hesitant thought in their minds. 
Many of the human rescuers at ground zero describe it as hell on earth. Just being there in that surreal situation must have shook them to the very core.  But these dogs just moved forward stayed focused and helped the rescuers as much as they helped the survivors.  They went where humans could not have possibly gone and saved hundred that would have died otherwise.  They searched for survivors relentlessly and would not give up until every survivor was found.  When absolutely sure all had been found they aided in the heart wrenching search for victims remains.  They worked side by side their human handlers to bring peace and resignation to the hearts of the victims families.  They kept the spirits of those working at ground zero afloat, kept them from total despaire.  Offered constant and unconditional love, remaining true and obedient the entire time, even in the face of utter uncertainty. 

Two examples of these heroes are guide dog Roselle and bomb dog Sirius.  
Roselle guided her human companion Michael Hingson down from the 78th floor in tower one just minute before the tower collapsed.  While they made their way down 76 flights of stairs Roselle was pet by fire fighters making their way up the stairs,  she was perhaps the last bit of love and hope any of them would ever see again.  She was the last bit of comfort any of them would feel in the moments after their brief encounter in those stair wells in a burning building she guided her human to safety, in a situation where it seems impossible for an animal to remain calm and focused. 

Sirius the bomb detection dog bravely answered the call of duty on that day as well.  Sirius died when tower two collapsed.  His partner officer David Lim was found, alive, five hours later.  The bravery of this animal is not the only example of its kind.  Many gave their lives that day, and many of these fallen heroes were canine.

On a day where humanity seemed to have been turned on its head those dogs helped make sense of all the madness, all the chaos.   To this day they are helping us cope.  Therapy dogs are helping survivors rise above the horrors of that memory, they help families remember their loved ones with peace in their hearts.  As I pet my pup, Tulip he helps me as so many others help you, by the couch as I watch in awe all over again when each image flashes on what feels like every single channel. As I feel that familiar puppy warmth it fills my very soul.  Nothing can take away the pain of that day.  We cope through remembrance.  We cope through knowing we are not alone and that those at ground zero were not alone either.

 So let us remember all the heroes of that day, lets pay tribute to all the heroes of 9/11. 

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