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Saluting America’s Pet Heroes

2011-09_firefighter-dogJust like the superheroes in comic books, real-life heroes have many guises. Some of these heroes come in human form and keep their capes hidden, instead donning police or firefighting gear, soldiers’ uniforms and other garb. But the animal world also has its share of courageous heroes that come in all sizes, shapes and breeds.

This month, in honor of the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, take a moment to think back on the hero dogs that went into the rubble of the twin towers and helped sniff out survivors. In the search and recovery efforts that morning and the many days that followed, more than 10,000 emergency workers heeded the call for help. Three hundred of them were dogs.

The four-footed heroes of 9/11 searched day and night for survivors, and when it was clear there were no more, they found the remains of victims and gave anguished families peace. Risking injury and searching tirelessly, these dog heroes gave comfort along the way and demanded nothing in return.

Kenn Bell, filmmaker and creator of The Dog Files, has a beautiful tribute to the “Hero Dogs of 9/11,” which you can view here.

Heroes Among Us

As you begin to think more about heroic pets, I think you’ll discover that they’re all around us!

For example, a recent NPR story featured Marine Cpl. Daniel Cornier and Chaak, the dog he deployed with to Afghanistan.  Chaak is a bomb-detecting dog who walked in front of Cornier during his Marine Corps missions.

“He’s pretty trustworthy. I can trust him. I pretty much trust him with my life,” said Cornier of his canine companion.

Cornier’s long-awaited adoption of Chaak recently came through, allowing the two to continue their deep and devoted friendship. For the complete story, click here.

Another example of a heroic pet is the winner of BISSELL’s 2009 MVP (Most Valuable Pet) contest. Norman, a golden retriever from Columbus, Ohio, serves a fundamental role for his community, acting as a breeder for a local service dog program – 4 Paws For Ability. His puppies are raised to help people with a multitude of disabilities. Norman and his “foster pet parent,” Tara Driscoll, donated their $10,000 winnings from the BISSELL MVP contest toward the cost of a seizure dog to assist two special needs children who had been in need of a service dog for some time, but hadn’t been able to afford one. Thanks to their canine hero Norman, they now have an additional four paws to assist them.

Fortunately, dogs and cats need not be specially trained to serve as an every day hero to you. Whether they greet you with a sloppy kiss, a warm purr or a wagging tail after a long day at work, alert you to a stranger at the door, listen to your woes without judgment or simply offer a warm, furry shoulder to lean (or cry) on—our pets keep us healthy and happy.

This month, as you reflect on the contributions of those 300 canine search and recovery heroes from the World Trade Center ten years ago, remember that the are thousands more four-legged life savers who grace people’s lives every day.

To help you do so, I’ve posted below a few of my favorite videos that showcase the variety of canine angels living among us.

American Humane Association’s Hero Dog Awards:

 

Alaskan hero dog shows troopers the way to fire:

 

Rescue and Recovery Hero Dogs:

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Written by:
Kristen Levine, pet lifestyle expert

September 09, 2011

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