“On the anniversary of 9/11 it seems appropriate to reflect upon the role of animals at the World Trade Center tragedy, and the part that pets play in our daily lives to support us. The painting above, by noted artist Ron Burns, depicts Sirius, a 4 ½ year old yellow Labrador Retriever, an explosives detection dog whose life was lost when Tower II collapsed.
Siruis’s partner was Port Authority Officer David Lim. Together, they were responsible for searching all vehicles that entered the World Trade Center as well as unattended packages & vehicles. Sirius was found in the rubble of the tower. The Port Authority has listed 37 of its police officers as missing or dead as a result of the attack. Lim believes that number should be 38. “I grieve for those I knew. I grieve for those I never knew. But I grieve the most for the best partner a cop ever had. Sirius is still waiting for me,” said Lim.
Dogs played many official roles during the crisis and after the tragedy. Michael Hingson’s guide dog Roselle “led myself along with the others on our floor, down the darkened stairwell (that consisted of 1,463 steps) to safety moments before the building collapsed. She remained poised and calm through the entire day.”
In the aftermath, nearly 100 loyal search and rescue dogs and their brave owners worked the scenes in New York City and Washington DC to help discover human remains. Skyraider was a black lab who helped search the Pentagon. His handler, Bob Sessions said, “If these dogs only knew what a difference they make. Certainly, there’s nothing that can replace precision of a dog’s nose – and absolutely nothing that can replace a dog’s heart.”
Annie – a Cavalier King Charles pet therapy dog – made over 20 visits to the site. “Some dogs retrieve tennis balls, Annie retrieves trust; some dogs herd sheep, Annie herds hope” said her handler, Liz Teal. Annie, and so many other therapy dogs generously share love for those needing a way to escape tragedy.
In times of duress whether on the unfathomably enormous scale of 9/11, or at the end of a tough day at work, our pets are there for us through thick and thin. They patiently listen to our tales of woe, absorb our grief and offer playful distraction. So today, a time for reverence and reflection, let us also remember and be grateful for the working and companion animals in our lives.” – Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, DVM
Painting of Sirius by Ron Burns courtesy of A Tribute to the Dogs of 9/11. Please visit http://www.ronburns.com/thedogsof911/ for more stories on the Dogs of 9/11.