Thanks to dog blog site BarkPost, the last known surviving 9/11 rescue dog — a 16-year-old golden retriever named Bretagne — received a hero’s welcome when she returned to New York City to celebrate her sweet sixteen just days shy of the fourteenth anniversary of 9/11.
On September 11, 2001, Bretagne and her owner/handler Denise Corliss were deployed to New York City as part of Texas Task Force 1, to help the 100 other search and rescue dogs who’d been dispatched to find survivors trapped beneath the rubble of the World Trade Center. When Corliss and her then two-year-old search and rescue dog arrived at the site of the terrorist attacks, she told WABC that she just couldn’t grasp the magnitude of destruction around her. Bretagne, however, was ready to help.
“When our task force arrived in Ground Zero, I just couldn’t believe the magnitude. And I looked down at her, and she seemed stoic and ready to work. I was just so grateful to have a canine partner that helped me get through it”
As the days wore on and the job of the search and rescue dogs turned to recovery, Corliss said that Bretagne provided more than rescue and recovery to many people. The lovable dog often comforted weary firefighters and first responders in even the darkest of times. The terrorist attacks of September 11 wasn’t the only search and rescue job Bretagne had been on. She’d also helped with rescue efforts after Hurricane Katrina.
When the dog-loving folks over at BarkPost learned that Bretagne was the last surviving 9/11 rescue dog, and that she was getting ready to celebrate her sixteenth birthday, they decided to do something special for the hero dog.
“After hearing Bretagne’s story and learning that her 16th birthday was coming up, there was no question in our minds that she deserved a Dog’s Best Day for the ages.”
And what a day it was. After being picked up at La Guardia airport, Bretagne and Corliss were brought to the dog-friendly 1 Hotel Central Park, where the retired rescue dog was treated to her very own gourmet cheeseburger. Once the treats were done, the pair were picked up in a vintage taxi cab where they toured the city with a very deliberate stop in Times Square, where they could get a front row seat to one of the many billboards in honor of the heroes. Corliss caught sight of one billboard in particular that read “NYC Welcomes You and Your Mom,” and showed a picture of the two of them.
From there, they took a ride along the Hudson River, where Bretagne was presented with a Tiffany “bone to the dog park.” After the long day of celebrating the dog and her mom retired to their hotel room where they were met with a room full of treats and toys, a dog friendly birthday cake, and a $1,000 donation from the hotel to Texas Task Force, which will go to training other search and rescue dogs like Bretagne.
Although Bretagne is retired from the search and rescue profession, she’s still working her tail off. These days, she’s a registered therapy dog and works with children in elementary schools, Corliss says.
“She represents working dogs and the disaster dogs in particular. They all are deserving for a day like today.”
It was the perfect sweet sixteen for the last surviving 9/11 rescue dog. Here’s to many more years of helping others. Happy Birthday, Bretagne!
[Photos courtesy of BarkPost]