Bretagne, the last known living September 11, 2001, rescue dog used to help find survivors after the terrible World Trade tower disasters, gets to enjoy a weekend in New York to honor her for her service and to celebrate her 16th birthday. Barkpost teamed up with 1 hotels to bring Bretagne back to New York for her celebration.
“Responding to the World Trade Center was our first deployment,” Corliss told BarkPost, which sponsored their trip and commemoration in the city. “We were there to try and find survivors. When our task force arrived in Ground Zero, I just couldn’t believe the magnitude. And then I look down to her, and she seemed stoked and ready to work.”
Bretagne is from Texas and was only two-years-old at the time of the attack, and she was only one of 100 dogs deployed to help with the search and rescue efforts.
“Towards the end of our mission, it changed from a search mission to a recovery mission. I was just so grateful to have a canine partner that helped me get through it,” said Corliss.
Bretagne and her owner/handler, Denise Corliss, work for Texas Task Force 1, which is a FEMA National Urban search-and-rescue program. They were called on to help locate any survivors and to help with recovering the bodies of victims that were killed in the twin towers disaster.
Denise and her beloved golden retriever arrived in New York City on September 4 and were greeted with a welcome sign and a limo to escort them to 1 Hotel Central Park. Bretagne was greeted with hotel staff clapping for her as she walked into the hotel and the staff told her she was their first “pup of honor” at the hotel. Corliss wiped tears off of her cheeks as she watched with pride.
When Bretagne got to her room, she found a luxury dog bed, a room filled with toys and even room service for her.
When room service showed up, they too welcomed Bretagne and fed her a gourmet burger that Bretagne quickly devoured.
“She’s very excited about the food,” said Corliss as she fed Bretagne some of her treats.
Bretagne rode around New York in a yellow New York City taxi while she was exploring the city.
As they got Times Square, they were surprised by a huge video billboard that said, “Happy Birthday Bretagne” and had a photo of her with her birthday wish. It then changed screens and said,”NYC welcomes you and your mom. Thank you both for your service.”
Bretagne’s next stop was to Hudson River Park where the dog played ball with Corliss at the water park.
“She is sixteen years old, but yet, when you’re around water with her, she acts like a young puppy,” said Corliss.
Marla Smith, who is on the board of Friends of Hudson River Park, presented Bretagne and Corliss the doggie equivalent of the key to the city: the phone to the dog park. The case said, “Thank you Bretagne, from the dogs of Hudson River Park.”
Back at the hotel, the staff had one last surprise for Bretagne. They walked her into a “Sweet Sixteen” birthday room filled with decorations, balloons, lots of presents, and lots of people. Everyone wished her a happy birthday as they put a birthday hat on her. Bretagne immediately started checking out her toys and presents and came back carrying a bag of dog treats. She was very curious as Corliss helped her open her presents and she checked out each one.
One of the men presented her with a plaque that said, “In honor of Bretagne and Denise Corliss and Texas Task Force 1, the National September Memorial Museum proudly dedicates a cobblestone to you that is located on the plaza of the 911 memorial.”
“Wow!!” said Denise as she looked at the plaque and wiped tears from her cheeks.
The 1 Hotel Central Park gave $1,000 to Texas Task Force 1 so they can continue to train search and rescue dogs just like Bretagne.
“When we deployed to some of the disasters, what I didn’t anticipate was the role that they take on as a therapy dog,” said Corliss. “It provides opportunity for people to have support from a dog and comfort from a dog in a real difficult environment.”
While visiting New York, people stopped everywhere to thank Bretagne for her service.
Bretagne is retired now but she volunteers for school programs that help children learn to read.
“Bretagne and I have a really strong bond,” said Denise. “A lot of dog handlers say you get that one dog and I’ve had several K-9 partners, but Bretagne is that one dog for me.”
Thank you Bretagne — for your service, and for helping New York City when they needed it the most.
[Photo via: New York Daily News]