Unbelievably, the seventeenth anniversary of September 11, 2011, just passed. Anyone alive on that fateful day in American history can probably tell you exactly where they were when they saw the footage of the World Trade Center’s twin towers collapsing. Every anniversary brings back grief, remembrance, and somber stories. But there’s always a silver lining, and the heartening stories of heroism from that day live on, as well — now in the form of eight tiny puppies.
In Dryden, Michigan, there is a small Labrador retriever breeder named Tall Pine Labradors. One of their prized mama labs, Kimber, gave birth to eight puppies late on September 10 into the wee morning hours of September 11. The breeders, Ann and Eugene Morris, knew just what to name these new babies to honor their birthday.
Not everyone knows about the heroic dogs who saved lives during 9/11 and recovered trapped people and remains in the days after. Activists and those on the scene of Ground Zero that day have proudly educated people over the years about these dogs, showing just how helpful and intelligent canines are — on average as smart as a human two-year-old.
The first lab puppy born at 7:50 pm on September 10 is a yellow boy named Salty. His namesake was actually a guide dog whose owner worked on the 71st floor of the North Tower. On 9/11, the original Salty led his owner to safety from their workspace. He passed away of old age in 2008 after being hailed as a loyal hero to his owner Omar Rivera.
The second pup was born at 8:33 pm, a chocolate lab. He is named Jake, after a search and rescue dog who worked at Ground Zero for 17 days. The original Jake lived, returned to his home in Utah, and helped train other SAR dogs while working part-time as a therapy dog.
Third came Sirius at 9:30 pm. This champagne-colored puppy is named after a Port Authority Police Department K-9 officer. Unfortunately, the original Sirius’ story doesn’t have a very happy ending. He passed away in the basement of the South Tower when it collapsed, but his remains were recovered and honored in 2002.
Fourth, we have silvery Thunder, born at 11:40 pm. The original Thunder was a search and rescue dog from Washington who helped search through the debris at Ground Zero in the aftermath of the towers’ collapse.
Chocolate male Trakr was born just before midnight. He is named after the famous German Shepard SAR dog who found the last survivor in Ground Zero’s rubble, Genelle Guzman-McMillan. Guzman-McMillan actually has a fascinating book she wrote about her experience being trapped in debris for 27 hours before Trakr and his Canadian handler found her.
The first puppy born on September 11 proper, silver-toned Appollo came into the world at about 12:13 am. He’s named for the first search and rescue dog who arrived on the scene only 15 minutes after the towers collapsed. This NYPD K-9 Officer had guts: at one point his fur caught fire during the rescue chaos, but readily went right back to work as soon as his handler had put it out.
The penultimate puppy is golden Riley, born at 1:14 am. His namesake was a specially trained golden retriever who did canyon search and rescues via a custom-outfitted basket and crane. That Riley was lauded for locating the bodies of several firefighters who passed away in the tower collapse.
The last puppy, and the only female of the bunch, was born just twelve minutes after her brother Riley. Roselle was named for a second guide dog for a blind handler who saved people on 9/11. Her owner, Michael Hingson, was working on the 78th floor of the North Tower when the plane hit just over a dozen floors above him. Roselle calmly led Hingson down 78 floors and provided comfort to nearby people along the way.
If you’re interested in seeing their pictures and even getting on the adoption list for any of these heroic pups, check out Tall Pine’s Facebook page.