Sunday, September 11, 2011

9.11: Ten Years On, An Eternity Ahead

It’s here again. Yet another year has rolled by since September 11, 2001.

In observance of the first-year anniversary, my husband and I chose to thumb our noses at terrorism by taking a transatlantic flight on September 11, 2002. It felt great to be among the “courageous” few in the air that day. From London to Chicago, we felt invincible.

In observance of this anniversary, as everyone remembers the heroes and victims of the day, I have one message: Don’t forget about the dogs.

More than 300 pooches (no one knows the exact number because some came as part of an organized effort, others showed up with handlers out of the blue) searched the 9.11 sites for people, living or dead. You can see them in action in the video Hero Dogs of 9/11 at Dog Files.

As you watch, you’ll get a sense of the scale of the disaster and wonder how those dogs fared afterward. Did they, like the human workers, suffer from cancers, respiratory diseases, and various other ailments? Surprisingly No, according to a study conducted by the very vet, Cynthia Otto, who was at Ground Zero administering care to the canines.

As dogs’ lives are distressingly short, the 9.11 rescue dogs are now either old or have moved on to another world. The New York Times has a slide show of the oldsters, who will soon be published in the new book Retrieved by Charlotte Dumas. There’s a 10th anniversary edition out of Dog Heroes of September 11th and a Web site of related pics. For the dogs who participated in the health study, Otto created a memorial to the ones who’ve passed on.

So long as we live, they too shall live, for they are now a part of us,
as we remember them.

—From a Jewish prayer

[Photo from Dog Files.]

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