Doggie Blog

Four-Legged Heroes: 3 Heroic Dogs of 9/11

Four-Legged Heroes: 3 Heroic Dogs of 9/11 0

Today marks the 19th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. On this solemn day, as we take time to remember and honor the fallen, let’s not forget the courageous four-legged heroes of September 11th. 

In the days following the attacks, nearly 10,000 emergency rescue workers joined in the efforts to help the rescue and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center and Pentagon. More than 300 of those heroes were dogs, representing the largest deployment of dogs in the nation’s history

Teams of dogs and handlers specially trained in search and rescue, police work, therapy and comfort were deployed to aid the search and rescue efforts. These dedicated doggies with their human counterparts comforted the distressed, and climbed over and through mountains of destruction dutifully seeking signs of victims. Here are three stories about incredible canine heroes of the September 11th terrorist attacks:



Appollo was a German Shepherd, who worked with the first New York Police Department K-9 Urban Search and Rescue Team. Appollo and his handler, Pete Davis, arrived at the South Tower just 15 minutes after it collapsed, making them the first search-and-rescue dog team on site after the attacks.


The German Shepherd and his handler spent nearly 18 hours each day searching for survivors.

During their search efforts, Appollo nearly lost his life to flames and falling debris. By luck, he was soaking wet from falling in a pool of water and was narrowly missed by falling flames and debris. He went right back to work after his handler brushed some debris off of him. Appollo continued to work diligently until he showed signs of extreme exhaustion and required treatment.

On March 5, 2002, Appollo received the Dickin Medal, the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross, on behalf of all search and rescue dogs who assisted in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks. 

Appollo and Peter Davis


Bretagne (pronounced Brit-nee) was a golden retriever trained in search-and-rescue from outside of Houston Texas. At the young age of two years old, Bretagne and her handler, Capt. Denise Corliss of the Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department, deployed to Ground Zero as a part of the Texas Task Force 1. This was their first deployment together and, while daunting, both Denise and Bretange were ready for the challenge. 

Over a ten day mission at Ground Zero, Bretagne and her handler work 12 hour days searching for signs of victims. While trained as a search-and-rescue dog, Bretagne provided emotional support to the other emergency responders at Ground Zero. 

During her seven years of active duty, Bretagne and her handler also deployed to search and rescue efforts of major hurricanes like Katrina, Rita and Ivan. In her retirement, she aided other search dogs in training and volunteered at a reading program at a local elementary school.

Just shy of her 17th birthday, Bretagne passed peacefully surrounded by her devoted companions, Denise and Randy Corliss. Bretagne received a hero’s farewell from her fellow members of the rescue team Texas Task Force 1 and the Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department. She was the last known surviving dog that responded to Ground Zero. 

Bretagne and Denise Corliss 



Trakr, a German Shepherd from Halifax, Nova Scotia, was trained as a police dog and worked for six years, helping find people, evidence and stolen goods. Prior to deploying to Ground Zero, Trakr had a prolific reputation and was credited with hundreds of arrests and recovered more than one million dollars in stolen goods. 

On September 11th, Trakr and his handler, Canadian Police Officer James Symington, drove 15 hours to help the recovery and rescue efforts. Upon arriving, Trakr and his handler got right to work locating numerous victims. On September 12th, roughly 27 hours after the first plane hit, Trakr located Genelle Guzman-MicMillan, the last survivor to be found beneath the rubble. 

On September 14th, after working tirelessly for days, Trakr collapsed from smoke and chemical inhalation, burns, and exhaustion. Thankfully, he was treated for his injuries and able to return home with his handler, James.

In the later years of his life, Trakr remained dedicated to helping others. He loved visiting children’s organizations, schools and hospitals, always taking a little extra time with those who needed him most. Trakr passed away in April of 2009 at the age of 16. 

Trakr and Jame Symington

These are just three of the amazing doggies, who risked their lives to save others on September 11th, 2001. The 9/11 Memorial & Museum’s South Tower Gallery has a temporary exhibition called K-9 Courage, which honors the hundreds of dogs that participated in the response to the 9/11 attacks. The exhibit is on display until December 2021. Click here for a virtual tour of the exhibit and to learn more about these four-legged heroes.

  • Holly W
Healthy, Happy Humans: The Benefits of Dog Companionship

Healthy, Happy Humans: The Benefits of Dog Companionship 0

Dogs provide people with unconditional love and companionship that puts most humans to shame. But are there really health benefits to having a furry friend? Yes! It is scientifically proven that dogs improve their owner's mental and physical well-being. These beautiful animals are healers and best friends, what more can one ask for? Here is what science says when it comes to the benefits of a furry family member.


A Healthy Heart and a Happy Life

Studies suggest that people living with dogs tend to eat better and have healthier blood sugar levels as a result. This ultimately leads to improved cardiovascular health. According to one Harvard study, people with canine companions are likely to have lower blood pressure, decreased triglyceride, and reduced cholesterol levels. This lowers the risk of heart attacks while improving recovery rates in the event of a stroke.

Harvard terms this the “pet effect”. The study further suggests that dogs have a calming effect on their owners and motivate them to seek regular exercise for a fitter lifestyle. 

#FitnessGoals are Achievable with Five Dog Walks a Day 

Dog owners are often physically active since canine friends keep them busy with fetch games and potty walks all day long. Health experts recommend at least two to three hours of exercise a week for adults - while people with dogs are more than likely to surpass this goal. 

Elderly dog owners have also been reported as being more active and mobile compared to their dog-less counterparts. A report found that older adults with dogs benefit from lower body mass index, fewer doctor visits, and fewer limitations in daily activities. 

Your furry friend might just be the answer to longevity!

Better Mental Health with Reduced Stress

Some dogs are naturally gifted as professional therapists! Yes, you read that right-- there are therapy dogs that help sufferers of PTSD or grief to cope through companionship. The nonjudgmental nature of service dogs is ideal in helping sufferers emerge from despair and loneliness. 

In fact, spending a few minutes with a dog can help lower anxiety and blood pressure. Dog-assisted therapy can also increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, two positive neurochemicals known for their soothing effects on the body. As such, dogs are known to ease tension and keep family members united regardless of the generation gap. 

Security with a Peace of Mind

Dogs are known for their unquestionable loyalty. Their dedication to the safety and care of their owners is legendary, to say the least. Hachikō, an Akita in Japan waited daily for its owner at the train station where he'd regularly alight, despite nine years of the man's passing. Talk about dedication!

The testament of canine loyalty is replayed in homes every day, as dogs bark and defend their owners from unsuspecting strangers. Many reports and studies have shown that homes with dogs are less vulnerable to theft, burglary, or break-ins than households without. 

This bestows pet parents with a greater sense of security and comfort, which reduces stress levels that are responsible for a plethora of health issues.

The Feel Good Factor: Scientifically-proven

Anyone who has ever interacted with a friend's or stranger’s dog will agree that there is something uncanny about those canines, which brings a smile to their face. And no, it is not simply a figment of the imagination. Simply locking eyes with your furry companion and gazing lovingly at its adorable face triggers the release of oxytocin-- the “feel good” hormone of your system. This relaxing and joyful sensation is 100% natural, wholesome, and all free courtesy of your pooch pal.

  • Holly W


Five Amazing Mutts for National Mutt Day

Five Amazing Mutts for National Mutt Day 0

On the last day of July, we get to celebrate our four-legged heroes with National Mutt Day, also known as National Mixed Breed Dog Day. This celebration takes place twice a year on July 31 and December 2, and raises awareness for mixed breed dogs in shelters around the nation. Approximately 80% of dogs in shelters are mixed breeds!

While not all the dogs featured here come from mixed lineage, all of them prove their intelligence, strength of spirit, and willingness to share the trials of life with their human companions. 


While working his beat, British Policeman Geof Grewcock inspected a shed and found a skinny-to-the-bone, filthy greyhound inside. He took the abused female to the Nuneaton and Warwickshire Wildlife Preserve to rehabilitate her. And ever since, Jasmine has repaid that kindness by the ton.

Geoff founded the wildlife preserve as a place for sick and injured animals. Jasmine fit right in.

"When I first met Jasmine, you could tell she had been emotionally devastated but was a gentle dog by nature," he said. "And soon, she started nurturing the other animals." 

During her life with him, Jasmine stepped in as mother to puppies, foxes, a fawn, four badger cubs, 15 chicks, eight guinea pigs, 15 rabbits, a deer, and her favorite, a goose.

Jasmine died in 2011, but her legacy lives on through her story and the animals she nurtured. 


Another magnificent mutt, Pearl, escaped a bleak fate at a Los Angeles animal shelter and went on to save lives around the world. 

Initially, a group that trains seeing-eye dogs saw potential in the beautiful black lab but found her too hyper for the job. But her I'm-just-getting-going attitude made her perfect for the National Search and Rescue Dog Foundation. 

Pearl passed the intense training program for these four-legged heroes and found herself in Haiti in response to the earthquake of 2010 and Japan in 2011 after the tsunami.

From rescued to rescuer, Pearl proves the power of our amazing friends!


Just like their humans, not every dog earns the title of amazing for training-intensive, spectacular feats. Rancho helps his owner with the laundry and even knows how to fold. Check out this beautiful shepherd pulling his weight around the house here.


Imagine falling from a fishing boat and becoming lost at sea. That's what rescuers from an oil rig 135 miles off the Thai coast believe happened. This brave little fellow swam up to their boat without a sound of complaint or suffering. The crew used a rope to pull him from the water and gave him the only name that fit: Survivor. Click here to have a look at the pictures of this lucky dog and his new family in the comments.


Chancer changed the life of his humans within 24 hours of joining the family. His first night in his new home, Chancer crawled into bed with the family's adopted teenage son, Iyal, who displays symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome. After years of round-the-clock care and little rest, the entire family got its first good night's sleep. Iyal's new companion keeps him calm and lessens the severity of the symptoms that do slip through, Iyal's mother says.

Giving back to the Givers

All mutts are amazing. They just need the opportunity to prove it. Like people, every dog has a unique personality. These differences make them perfect and especially ideal for their owners. When choosing your new family member, please consider adoption!

If you want a hero, best friend, soul mate, and protector in your life, considering adopting one of the many dogs that find themselves in shelters through no fault of their own. Check out this list of animal shelters by state to help get you started.

If you want to help but can't adopt, never fear. Agencies large and small, national and local, always need supplies like dog food, collars, and leashes. Check out their websites or call them to see how you can give back to our marvelous, four-legged companions.

  • Alex Brown