Monday, September 5, 2011
The Dogs of 09/11
Man's Best Friends helped on 09/11. Their service in assisting the searchers at the Pentagon & Ground Zero was critical. Our K-9 companions showing again why the Dog is our best friend always.
The 9/11 rescue dogs: Portraits of the last surviving animals who scoured Ground Zero one decade on
By Anna Edwards UK MAIL
During the chaos of the 9/11 attacks, where almost 3,000 people died, nearly 100 loyal search and rescue dogs and their brave owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors.
Now, ten years on, just 12 of these heroic canines survive, and they have been commemorated in a touching series of portraits entitled 'Retrieved'.
The dogs worked tirelessly to search for anyone trapped alive in the rubble, along with countless emergency service workers and members of the public.
Travelling across nine states in the U.S. from Texas to Maryland, Dutch photographer Charlotte Dumas, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from 9/11.
Their stories have now been compiled in a book, called Retrieved, which is published on Friday, the tenth anniversary of the attacks.
Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs.
'I felt this was a turning point, especially for the dogs, who although are not forgotten, are not as prominent as the human stories involved,' explained Charlotte, who splits her time between New York and Amsterdam.
'They speak to us as a different species and animals are greatly important for our sense of empathy and to put things into perspective.'
Most of the search and rescue dogs are Labradors or Golden Retrievers and Charlotte feels that the title works across many aspects of the story.
'I found the dogs, I retrieved them, they were there to retrieve the victims, it is nicely rounded,' explained Charlotte whose work is being exhibited at the Julie Saul Gallery NYC opening on September 8, in time for the anniversary.
After working on a project about police canines and other working dogs, she was inspired to concentrate on the animals that played such a huge part in seeking survivors.
Contacting the NYPD, the New York Fire Department and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Charlotte discovered that out of the nearly 100 dogs among the first responders deployed by FEMA, there were in fact only 15 still alive last year.
'They were there for the first few weeks, they were trained to find people alive, although that is ultimately not what happened,' said Charlotte, who will hold a fundraiser for the First Responder Alliance at Clic Bookstore in New York on September 29.
'I traveled across the United States to meet with the owners and portray the dogs. They are all retired and I spent time with each of their handlers learning about their experiences.
'It was moving talking to Denise Corliss, who is the handler and owner of Bretagne, one of the Golden Retrievers.
'She told me a touching story of one fireman who was there in the rubble, and how taken he was with Bretagne who comforted him as he sat down to catch his breath.
'Years later at a Remembrance Ceremony, the same fireman recognised Bretagne and her handler and they had a touching reunion.
'It developed that even though the dogs couldn't find people still alive, they could provide comfort for the brave firemen and rescue workers of the emergency services.'
Wishing to tell the other side of heroism from 9/11, each of Charlotte's encounters with dogs such as Gabriel and Orion and Scout stayed with her.
'The dogs are now old and they will soon pass away. Even during the time it has taken since my first work on the 'Retrieved' portraits to now, three of the final 15 have died,' said Charlotte.
'These portraits are about how time passes, and how these dogs and their portraits are offering us a way to deal with the things that happened as well as relying on them for comfort.'