Ricky the smallest dog at Ground Zero

Ricky the Smallest Rescue Dog at the World Trade Center

“Even the tiniest Poodle or Chihuahua is still a wolf at heart.”

— Dorothy Hinshaw Patent,
Dogs: The Wolf Within

SEATTLE, WA (USA) — We’ve all heard about the German Shepherds, the Rottweilers, Labs and Bloodhounds who combed the fallen World Trade Center in search of victims last month, but what about the lap dogs? They’re no exception to the courageous canine list.

Last week, the Seattle City Council held a ceremony to honor a few of the brave souls who helped with New York City search-and-rescue (SAR) efforts: 62 firefighters, police, doctors, engineers and public-safety personnel, all working with Puget Sound Urban Search and Rescue. Also invited to the podium were four SAR dogs, including one so small that many people in the audience had to squint to get a good look at him—that would be “Ricky” the Rat Terrier.

Ricky, measuring in at 17″ and 280 ounces, didn’t let his diminutive size deter him from his duties at “the pile”. In fact, he worked his tininess to his advantage, squeezing into holes that other dogs and robots were too large to navigate. Ricky and his trainer, Janet Linker of the Seattle Fire Department, searched the ruins for 10 days, helping to find the bodies of several victims, according to The Seattle Times.

At two years old, Ricky can climb aluminum ladders, run complex patterns on command and differentiate between the living and the dead. On June 17, 2000, Ricky attained the official certification at Basic Level after proving that he can search through piles of concrete at a site the size of half a baseball field, finding three victims in less than 10 minutes, unfazed by bulldozers, jackhammers, cats in cages and dirty laundry set up as distractions. Even so, the carnage at the World Trade Center site pushed Ricky’s abilities beyond anything he’d ever experienced.

“There were a few situations where we had to climb underneath metal beams, and the space just kept getting smaller and smaller,” says Ms. Linker, who works for Northwest Disaster Search Dogs.

She and Ricky worked closely with another SAR pair, Kent Olson (forensic therapist at Western State Hospital) and a 5-year-old Golden Retriever named “Thunder”, working the two dogs’ abilities in tandem. Ricky would wriggle into tight spots that 64-lb. Thunder could not manage, and Thunder, a more experienced dog (certified Advanced Level) would verify Ricky’s finds.

When Ricky found a body, he would signal by standing very still and looking at his handler intently with all the fur on his body standing up; Thunder would confirm the find by lying down as his signal to his partner. Rescuers would then know exactly where to dig.

Both dogs’ indication of a “live find” was to have been a bark, but unfortunately they never had the chance to make that signal.

“It’s really hard to know exactly how many people Ricky helped find,” says Ms. Linker. “I saw them take a policeman and a firefighter out from areas that we had just searched. I don’t know how many people were in the stairwell. There were lots of people in there. They were gone, not alive.”


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Big dogs and little dogs at ground zero search

In a disaster response of unprecedented magnitude, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) deployed 25 of its 28 nationwide task forces to the WTC and the Pentagon. In all, there were 80 FEMA-certified dogs at work. The effort was joined by the NYC Police K9 Corps, as well as some 300 search dogs from around the country. And don’t make the mistake of overlooking the Port Authority dogs, airport security dogs and therapy dogs who contributed immeasurably.

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Hawk at Ground Zero search for survivors

Revisiting a place they’ll never forget,
FEMA US&R Task Force 1 members “Hawk” and Cathy Schiltz take a moment to reflect at Ground Zero in New York, which they haven’t seen since last September. Hawk, an Australian Shepherd, never found any survivors, only the remains of dozens of victims. Says Ms. Schiltz: “Sometimes he would look at me as if to say, ‘Sorry.’ ” (Photo: Lauren Hobart / FEMA)

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Ground Zero search dog Guiness

On Sept. 12, 2001, Canine Search Specialist Sheila McKee rode by bus into Manhattan for the first time.

As they approached, she recalled she could see the smoke rising from the scene.

“We train a lot, but I don’t think you can ever train or be prepared for a disaster of that magnitude,” said the Highland resident. “I don’t think that anybody who worked that particular tragedy was ready for what we experienced. There is a bit of naiveté.”

McKee and her husband, David Graves, then an engineer with the Redlands Fire Department, joined a group of canine handlers as part of Riverside Urban Search and Rescue Task Force Six sent to Ground Zero to help with the search for survivors following the attacks.

She and Guinness, her yellow Labrador retriever, were on the pile for much of 10 days, she said. They found no survivors, she said.

“It took a moment to realize even the computers, the chairs, even the desks were gone,” she said.

Guinness is now one of only 12 Sept. 11 search dogs who are still living. He’s losing his vision and is a bit unsteady on the hardwood floors at the McKee/Graves home.

She has not been back to New York since, but thinks she may soon be ready to return. Looking back, she said her strongest memory is that of New York’s residents.

“We were in these huge buses and the caravan a mile long,” she said. “We had all these teams and equipment – we carry upwards of 70,000 pounds of equipment for us – and there’s 80 personnel. As we’re coming in, the streets were lined with people. They could see us coming and they all stood on the street and they waved at us and they clapped. I remember being terribly emotional because we were at that moment overwhelmed and connecting with these people.”


full article here

Coby and Guinness two labrador retrievers — searched tirelessly through the rubble of the World Trade Center 10 years ago before returning home to Southern California and, eventually, retirement at their handlers’ Highland home.
Coby was 6 when he was deployed to the WTC site with Redlands Battalion Chief David Graves.

Both of these dogs worked for an even larger and more crowded area than they were trained for, they searched for 11 days in 12 hour shifts. There reward was a nap or a chew toy

Over the years Cody lost his hearing but continued working with hand signals. Guiness had been trained for wilderness search and recovery before joining Riverside Task Force 6.

The massive pile of wreckage was so dangerous multiple times it was cleared of searchers because of fear of more collapse.

Coby has sinced passed on but not before finding 18 to 20 people in this human holocaust at Ground Zero. One can only imagine there is a reserved spot in heaven for such heroism.

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Orion the Yellow Labrador hunting and searching , a star and a hero..

Named for a mythical hunter and a constellation, search and rescue dog Orion has become a star in his old age.

full article here By Cathy Locke

The golden retriever, who lives in Vacaville with owner and handler Robert Macaulay, was one of more than 100 search and rescue dogs sent by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to New York City to help locate victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center. Now 13 years old, Orion and the 14 other 9/11 search and rescue dogs surviving a decade later are featured in a book, “Retrieved,” by photographer Charlotte Dumas, scheduled for publication this month.
He and Orion participated in the 9/11 search as volunteers with the Oakland Urban Search and Rescue Task Force, one of eight such groups in California. It was Orion’s first collapsed-building assignment. Because the dog had just passed the first of two certification tests, Macaulay said, they weren’t sent until two weeks after the attack.
“By that time,” he said, “we knew we were looking only for remains.”
Orion found three sets of remains.
His most successful search was of an outdoor patio area, 10 stories up.
“There was so much scent coming up the side of the building, I feared he might go over the edge,” Macaulay said.
Dumas, 34, said in a telephone interview that much of her previous work focused on fine art portraits of working animals, including police dogs and horses. She was researching a project on military dogs returning from service in Iraq and Afghanistan when she learned about the dogs of 9/11. She took the dogs sent by FEMA as her domain and photographed the 15 that were still living from March through May of this year. Three of those dogs have since died, she said.
On one hand, she said, these dogs are just like the average dog, but as working animals, they exhibit a higher degree of concentration.
“They have a higher sense of responsibility,” Dumas said. “They’re not as carefree as most animals. They have a very serious side.”
Macaulay, a transportation and land-use planner with the Solano Transportation Authority, grew up in Reno and attributes his interest in search and rescue work to his experience as a Boy Scout.
“It’s about being prepared and citizenship, being a good member of society,” he said. “It’s how I can give back.”
Macaulay has trained dogs for both wilderness and structural search and rescue. He initially volunteered with the Sacramento Urban Search and Rescue Task Force. He and Orion’s predecessor, Quasar, participated in rescue efforts following the April 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
Macaulay and Orion also went to New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, although because of the deep floodwaters, he said, search opportunities were limited.
Macaulay and Orion’s nephew, 4-year-old Helios, currently volunteer with the Menlo Park Urban Search and Rescue Task Force.
Retired, Orion no longer participates in official searches.
“But part of the bargain is that even when he is retired, I try not to let him know that,” Macaulay said. “He still goes out on training.”
For being the age equivalent of a human about 95 years old, “he’s still darn spry and active,” Macaulay said.
Dumas said it has been gratifying to see the public’s interest in these dogs, as word has circulated about the book.
Like Orion, most of the dogs went on to have long careers after 9/11, Dumas said.
“Now, after 10 years,” she said, “they get their moment to shine.”

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Moxie retired hero enjoying life.

WOBURN (CBS) – Only a handful search and rescue dogs deployed to Ground Zero are still alive, ten years after 9/11.

One of them is Moxie, a 13-year-old chocolate lab in retirement in Winthrop.

Her owner Mark Aliberti says she’s losing her hearing and her vision isn’t great, but it was her strong sense of smell that got her working on 9/11.
“These dogs are air scent dogs, which means they go out and sniff the air and they work their way in to the scent,” Aliberti told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Bernice Corpuz. “I’d tell her to go find and she’d search and search and search. If she found somebody or found scent that she’s interested in, she’s trained to penetrate as much as she can, get as close as she can. When she can’t get any closer, she’s trained to start barking and continually bark and just stay there until I join her.”

Moxie and Mark worked up to 16-hour shifts for 8 days at Ground Zero.

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Red, 9/11 rescue dog retired but still a hero.

I have been behind on blogging recently. Taking care of my three dogs and trying to get some freelance work by submitting graphic designs for bid proposals I want to catch up here so I am hoping to do a few 9-11 dog stories each day.

She may be retired now, but Red was one of the four-legged heroes in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks.
Red was among hundreds of other dogs who worked in New York and Washington, D.C. after the attacks, according to the video below from Reuters. She searched through the rubble at the Pentagon in 12-hour shifts in the hot sun, helping to recover dozens of bodies over several weeks.
Now 12-years-old and retired, the labrador occasionally tags along on search missions. She “still has the same love of the search,” according to the video report.
Her trainer, Heather Roche, explains that Red was not initially cut out for the job. “I never thought she would be a successful search dog,” she told Reuters. But no matter what I asked her to do … she did it every single time and she did it perfectly,” Roche added.
There are also over 530 police officers who work with bomb-sniffing dogs named after 9/11 victims.
There are organizations that work to train dogs, such as the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, which helps train dogs, mostly from shelters, to save human lives during disasters.

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Roselle the guide dog that led a blind man out of Twin Towers during the attack insires book.

article written by Erika Conner reposted from

Castro Valley author Susy Flory says when she first listened to Michael Hingson tell his harrowing account of surviving the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center with help from his guide dog Roselle, the story gave her chills.
It was the spring of 2010 and Flory, now 46, had interviewed Hingson about his experience over the phone for inclusion in her forthcoming book Dog Tales, a collection of true and inspiring stories featuring dogs from around the globe.
Flory said during their initial conversation she asked Hingson if he had ever thought about writing a memoir describing the ordeal.  “He said yes, but that he also wanted a collaborator. More chills,” she said.
After they said their goodbyes and hung up, Flory realized the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11 was coming up. Soon thereafter she approached Hingson about working together, since the two lived less than an hour apart.

“I got chills all over again. I think it was meant to be,” Flory said.

She spent much of last summer at his Novato home, where she bonded with Hingson over their shared love of travel, books, dogs and adventure. Hingson, who is blind, recounted how Roselle led him and dozens of others to safety from the 78th floor of Tower 1 moments before it crumbled.

But he has never let his blindness slow him down—not then and not now. He graduated from the University of California, Irvine, with a master’s degree in physics and today runs his own consulting firm, piloting small planes and playing golf in his free time.

His determination and positive attitude have left a lasting impression on her, she says.

Flory was recovering from breast cancer when she first met Hingson and said he treats his blindness as an asset, not a liability.

“I am learning to look at my challenges in the same way and I am finding that using what I have to serve others is the biggest adventure of all,” she said. “I learned that by lowering my guard, choosing to trust others and working together, we could accomplish great things.

Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog & the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero was released on Aug. 2 and one week later found itself on the New York Times bestseller list, placing in the e-book category, nonfiction hardcover, and combined e-book/nonfiction. The memoir has remained on the list for the last five weeks, which Flory says is “mind-blowing.”

Meanwhile, Hingson is readjusting to life without his trusted companion. Roselle, a yellow Labrador retriever, died in June at the age of 13, but her memory lives on in both the book and a foundation Hingson has started in her honor. Roselle’s Dream Foundation works to assist blind children and adults in obtaining new technologies.

Roselle has also been named a finalist in the 2011 American Humane Association’s American Hero Dog Awards.

“On 9/11, Mike and Roselle never gave up and lived out the first guide dog command: ‘Forward,'” Flory says. “Now whenever I face a challenge, that simple word comes to mind as I think of Mike and Roselle at the top of those 1,463 stairs in the North Tower: ‘Forward.'”

youtube preview of the book

A Link to the book on amazon

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Moxie 9/11 Rescue Dog

WINTHROP, Mass. — Four Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) dogs based out of Beverly were among the first to arrive at the World Trade Center hours after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Moxie was 3 years old at the time, freshly certified as an Urban Search and Rescue dog. It was the first assignment for the chocolate Lab and her owner, Mark Aliberti, who was a Winthrop firefighter at the time.
“The World Trade Center — for lack of a better term — it was a complete mess,” Aliberti said. “The terrain we were working on was pretty unusual. A lot of steel, a lot of just — everything was there.”
During the eight days at ground zero, Aliberti and Moxie started searching for survivors in one of the World Trade Center buildings that was still standing.
Moxie was about 50 feet ahead, leading the way. All of a sudden, the smoke started thickening. Aliberti and his team leader agreed: it was time to get out.
“And all of a sudden the dog goes by me. I think she could hear the tones in our voice that things changed — ‘I’m leaving,’ ” he said. “She knew it was a hazardous situation, she was doing what she was told, but as soon as we were ready to go, she didn’t have to be told to leave.”
As a team, Aliberti would help navigate Moxie through the twisted steel and concrete rubble, and let her nose do the work. Section by section, they searched for survivors.
After not finding anything, Moxie would often re-search the area and find cadavers, even though she was trained to ignore them.
“She’d turn around to check where I was because she’d know she wasn’t supposed to be messing around over there,” he recalled.
“So I’d go over and I started marking these spots after a couple of days. And I’d mark them, and we’d leave, because we were still hoping to find live victims. And what happened is that eventually I think it became apparent to everybody that three or four days into it that we probably weren’t going to find anymore live victims.”
Finding those live victims is really important to a dog like Moxie. To keep her spirits up, to keep her focused, Aliberti took the time to find ways to reward her.
He would often ask other firefighters to hide among the rubble, so Moxie could find somebody.
“That’ll bolster them, get them up and running again,” Aliberti explained. “You have to do that after a while because it’s long days.”
But after four days and in spite of those games, Aliberti and Moxie couldn’t escape the dangers. Once when they were playing tug-of-war at the site, he didn’t realize that big chunks of glass were hidden underneath layers of thick, thick dust.
“I realized it was blood,” he said, remembering seeing her hind paw torn up. “She cut a pretty good flap out of it.”
They went to the team veterinarian, who said Moxie would not be able to continue working while her paw healed. So Aliberti headed back to the Javitz Center, which served as a staging area for the FEMA teams. There, he ran into veterinarian Lori Gordon, who recommended gluing the flap of Moxie’s paw back together.
“We’d treat it, superglue it, and wrap it for the night. And then the next day, I’d usually take the wrapping off and we’d just go with the superglue. And she’d usually be able to get through the day as long as it didn’t get too wet,” Aliberti explained. “It’s more of a military mentality … you treat the people you can put back in the fight as soon as possible.”
Ten years later, that fight is over now for Moxie.
At 13 and with some gray hairs on her muzzle, she and Aliberti still spend a lot of time together. They often go to Coughlin Park in Winthrop to enjoy a sunny day outside.

By Kathleen McNerney