I remember this about September 11, 2001: I felt very lonely.
It was my senior year of veterinary school. My husband, who had only been my husband for about 2 months, was far away in San Diego. My mother was the one who called me, waking me up to tell me to turn on the news. She was alone too, as my father was on a rare business trip in Texas, one he ended up having to drive home from. We held the phones to our ears together until there was nothing more to do, so I said, well, I guess I ought to go to school.
I was doing a rotation in a lab that week, spending my day alone in a dark basement underneath the medical school looking at slides. Every few minutes I’d wander upstairs where I could get radio reception, and the other lab denizens would join me for a few minutes before we retreated back down to our holes.
Later that afternoon, after I returned home, there was a knock on the door. It was two nicely dressed missionaries. “How are you?” they asked.
“Not so great,” I said.
“Why?” they asked, genuinely concerned. “Do you want to talk about it?”
“Do you have any idea what’s going on?” I asked. They shook their heads in confusion. I shut the door.
Behind me, Nuke gently pressed his head into my hip. I had adopted him the year before, thanks to my friend Dan. “I want a dog,” I had said. “A Golden, maybe, or a pug.”
“I have just the dog!” he said, before referring me to the radiology department and the 10 year old coonhound who had been getting irradiated on a weekly basis as the vet students learned how to take films.
“He’s not housebroken and doesn’t know what outside is, so he’s a little addled. If it doesn’t work out, it’s ok,” said the tech. “They were going to euthanize him so I figured, I’d give it a shot.” No pressure.
He was a little addled. He was the dumbest dog I’ve ever had. He was neurotic and howled if he was outside for more than 2 minutes because he was scared of open spaces. He refused to learn ‘sit’. I loved him.
In those long and sad days after September 11, he was my greatest comfort. He died of cancer shortly after I graduated the following year. I miss him.
This Sunday marks National Pet Memorial Day. I hope you’ll join me in thinking of those we lost, or sharing a memory below. They leave this earth but they never leave our hearts.
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Video Rating: 4 / 5
Check out the soothing Topical Entries from the 2014 San Francisco Medical Cannabis Cup at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds on June 28-29, 2014.
Ever since our company left, Jack has decided a chair in the kitchen is his new favourite place. It’s been weird… he hasn’t once set foot upstairs since everyone left. He is preferring to hangout in the kitchen or basement now. Before, his favourite places were upstairs and then the living room/kitchen area.
I’ve been taking advantage of the window light when he sits in his new favourite chair. Every time I walk by he is in a slightly different “pose”.
All the photos are better in black and white because the wall behind him is red and the towel thing he is sitting on is blue and green. :)
I’m happy he is hanging out with us again. It was a pretty long month of self induced isolation for him. Silly boy.
This is Bretagne, a 15-year-old retired search and rescue dog. She appeared on the Today show this morning with her longtime handler and owner, Denise Corliss of Cypress, Texas. Tom Brokaw sat in to tell their story, because it’s a big, important story — Bretagne is the last surviving search dog who worked at Ground Zero in New York City after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Corliss was with Bretagne on that day, her handler and search and rescue partner. It was their first deployment together. This week Bretagne and Corliss visited the site of the former World Trade Center, their first time back after the attacks.
“Seeing this kind of took my breath away a bit, similar to how the pile was the first time I saw it,” Corliss told Today.com. “It’s so calm and peaceful now, unlike the chaos of before. After 9/11, everybody -- all of us -- felt such sadness. We all wanted to help. I just felt so honored that we were able to respond."
Corliss and Bretagne have spent their lives together. Corliss brought the dog home when she was eight weeks old, in 1999, after she became fascinated with disaster dogs and wanted to train one and become a dog/handler team. In 2000, they became official members of Texas Task Force 1.
On Sept. 11, 2001, they got their first assignment: Ground Zero. They worked 12-hour shifts for two weeks, a demanding, frustrating assignment for a search dog, as there were no survivors to be found.
“I really believed we could find somebody -- anybody! -- if we could just get to the right void space,” Corliss said. “But our reality was much different. We found all various kinds of remains, some recognizable, others not so much.”
But the 300 or so rescue dogs who worked the site did so much more than search in those trying days. They brought hope and moments of joy to all the rescue workers.
“You’d see firefighters sitting there, un-animated, stone-faced, no emotion, and then they’d see a dog and break out into a smile,” Dr. Cindy Otto, a veterinarian who cared for 9/11 search dogs at Ground Zero, told Today.com. “Those dogs brought the power of hope. They removed the gloom for just an instant -- and that was huge because it was a pretty dismal place to be.”
After 9/11, Corliss and Bretagne worked other disaster sites, including Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita, and Hurricane Ivan, before the dog retired at age nine. But even then, she went to work at locals schools, where she helps first-graders and special needs kids read out loud.
“She still has this attitude of putting her paw up and saying, ‘Put me in, coach!’” Corliss said. “She absolutely loves it.”
Bretagne has done a lot for her country in her 15 years, and now you can do something for her. She's up for a Hero Dog Award, in the Search and Rescue Dogs category. Vote for her here.
Learn more about dogs with Dogster:
- Why Do Dogs Lick People?
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Video Rating: 4 / 5
Wonderful pictures as always and I am glad there is a place for the overachievers (rescuers) to decompress and have fun and vent and try and make things better for themselves, the animals and for the public, whose lifestyles and needs are so varied. The only way to help these animals is to accept that there is not one right way of taking care of an animal, training it, vetting it, etc. There are many great ways to take care of or adopt out an animal or train an animal. People keep talking about the individuality of dogs which should extend to the individuality of the person who is adopting or rescuing, etc. There is more than one right way to do things. Life happens and well meaning people have bad things happen to them all the time. It's the unfairness of life. Don't overwhelm yourself with the whole picture but revel in each animal and the fact that they are going on to a good life and you helped get them there. When you let the whole picture of unwanted animals overwhelm you that is when you get people who hoard animals in rescue, foster or adopting because they think they have to keep doing more and more and lose sight of the quality of life of that individual animal. Thanks for dealing with and trying to address the tough subjects of the good and bad of helping animals. No one is perfect. We can't expect anyone to be perfect. It's a task no human can complete.
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