(ABC NEWS) — Tears were shed in Texas Monday by the staff of a veterinary clinic and total strangers at the passing of a special companion. We’re talking about the last surviving search dog from 9/11.
The dog, named Bretagne (Brittany) arrived to a hero’s welcome. Her fellow officers and firefighters offered a salute as she ambled toward a last visit to the veterinarian who cared for her the last 16 years.
Bretagne, the golden retriever, served at Ground Zero on 9-11. She searched for survivors, too, after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
The difficult choice to take her last walk was made by her handler, Denise Corliss. Bretagne was in kidney failure and was nearly 17-years-old. It was time.
The hard goodbye to the canine officer, who left the veterinary office draped in the Texas flag, came with one last offer of service.
Bretagne had been studied all her life for the impact of 9-11 pollutants. Now she will leave a positive impact in one more way.
WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD DOGS.
I just want to take a minute to shout out dogs.
Loyal dogs. Not crazy dogs. A good dog is more or less the best type of companion to have within’ your personal household. They won’t talk back and don’t care who you are or what you do as long as you feed them. If only kids were that easy.
Then there are dogs like Bretagne, whose résumé puts mine to shame after she spent 12 hour shifts for 3+ weeks using her nose in a search and rescue for those in the rubble of Ground Zero.
After 9/11 Bretagne continued to search and rescue through a handful of natural disasters, and once time took its toll on her joints, she became a therapy dog to elementary schools children listening to students practice reading and working with special needs children. She worked for 13 years.
Dogs like Bretagne have a genuine soul that can lift even the darkest of spirits. According to her handler, after the 12-hour shifts in Ground Zero, Bretagne would spent the rest of the night snuggling with firefighters who would hold her to escape the tragedy that surrounded them.
Luckily Bretagne was in the hands of a wonderful owner, Denise Corliss, who treated her well like a member of the fam up until the day she passed. When her joints became too stiff to climb stairs, Corliss built a pool in their backyard for Bretagne to swim in and maintain good health. Also, Bretagne returned to the city after 15 years of living in Texas for what may have been the most epic sweet-and-sloppy-16th birthday party America has ever seen. Watch the video recap here:
Dogs don’t live your whole life, but they make your life whole.