After nearly 15 loyal years, a beautiful dalmatian puppy that was donated to FDNY’s Ladder 20 following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center has died.
Named “Twenty,” the dalmatian that came to signify hope in the aftermath of 9/11, which saw seven members from Ladder 20 lose their lives on the 35th floor of the North Tower that day, has “taken her final run to Heaven,” says FDNY Lieutenant Gary Iorio in a moving Facebook tribute to the beloved dalmatian.
In the post, Lt. Iorio tells the story of how Twenty came to Ladder 20 on a dismal day following 9/11. He says that in the days following 9/11, condolences were pouring in from around the world by those who had heard of the seven FDNY members from their company that had perished in the North Tower. One day, the post says, two sheriffs from Rochester, New York, showed up at their door with a tiny dalmatian puppy.
“Her name was Twenty, and she became our mascot and companion. She really helped to build the morale in the years following 9/11. I can’t say enough about what she did to help us.”
According to the New York Daily News, Lt. Iorio said that Twenty went with them on all of their runs and loved to jump into the truck, stick her head out the window, and bark.
“She became a local celebrity,” reads the Facebook post, which has been shared over 26,000 times.
In a testament to how much Twenty meant not only to FDNY’s Ladder 20 but also to the community, comments have been pouring in on the FDNY Facebook page, offering condolences for the loss of their mascot and companion, and sharing stories of the dalmatian who lifted spirits at a time when many thought that an impossible task.
Found this cool photo, not mine New York's bravest... Dalmatian! FDNY Dalmatian by local MN photographer @ben_r_coo… pic.twitter.com/EY7tGvKtiE— A F Station (@AFireStation) August 1, 2015
“Attention all stations, Signal 5-5-5-5 has been struck. FDNY Dalmatian Fire Dog ‘Twenty’ has completed her shift,” commented one man, giving a brief history lesson of fire department dispatching in the 1800s, “Fire dog Twenty, [t]he last box has been struck, you’ve caught your last call, your job is done and you are released, we’ve got it from here.”
“Probably the only firefighter that never went home,” wrote a woman who also spoke of fondly remembering the dalmatian jumping into the trucks and strutting about the FDNY fire station “like she owned it.”
Scores of others offered their sympathies, wishing the dog a safe journey over the Rainbow Bridge. Many posted beautiful but heart-wrenching poems in Twenty’s honor.
The FDNY is certainly not the first fire station to have a dalmatian as part of their company. In fact, the tradition dates back more than a century, according to Live Science. Although today the breed is used more as a mascot, dalmatians originally played a pivotal role in fire stations.
Before the advent of fire trucks, firefighters used horse-drawn carriages to get them to the scene of fires. Their dalmatians would run alongside the horses, protecting them from potential predators and other dangers. Once they arrived at a fire, the breed served as a distraction for the horses — who are afraid of fire — and would allow them to get closer to the fire without being afraid.
Dalmatians also protected the belonging of the firefighters who were busy working hard to put out blazes, ensuring nothing was stolen from the wagons. Often, the dalmatians would also run into the street, barking, as soon as the fire bell rang, warning passersby to get out of the way as the wagon would be exiting soon.
For nearly 15 years, Twenty the dalmatian served as companion and morale booster to the firefighters of the FDNY’s Ladder 20 after the 9/11 attacks. Today, we say goodbye to a hero and one of New York’s Bravest as she joins her FDNY brothers and sisters who passed before her.
[Image via Facebook/New York City Fire Department (FDNY)]