Thank you Bretagne: We Commemorate A Heroic Life
The Passing of A True American Heroine
Smoke, loud noises, danger, and amidst it all, a hope-filled streak of gold. 15 years ago a two-year-old dog named Bretagne searches the wreckage of 9/11 on her first mission.
On Monday June 6th, 2016, heroic rescue dog Bretagne passed away at age 16 in Fairfield Animal Hospital beside her loving owner Denise. RIP.
From a young age, Bretagne had been training hard with her handler Denise Corliss to become a part of the noble team at Texas Task Force 1 Urban Search and Rescue. Showing impressive skill, she qualified for the honor. Bretagne was barely 2 years old when she was taken on her first job to the scene of one of the most horrifying tragedies of our generation: Ground Zero on September 11th.
10,000 response workers jumped into action, including 300 dogs like Bretagne.
Bretagne stepped up to the plate, working for 10 days straight on 12-hour shifts, saving lives amidst the rubble and chaos. Bretagne slept outside on location, never leaving the side of those who needed her. She worked to search for survivors and comfort those in need as only a dog can do. The unconditional love of a dog is a salve for the soul, terrified women held her tight, children whispered their fears to her as she looked at them with her kind gaze. Bretagne continued to work as a rescue dog for another seven years, helping on missions including aiding in hurricane rescues.
Retiring from the front lines at 9, she lived a happy life with Denise. Bretagne continued to do volunteer work at schools and was even immortalized in a novel and a film. She was nominated for awards by the American Humane Association and kept a friendship with Former President George W. Bush.
Respected nationally as a “Hero Dog,” Bretagne had recently celebrated her 16th birthday surrounded by friends and loved ones, eating a cake made especially for her.
In her later years, Bretagne began to suffer from kidney failure and required hospitalization. Monday morning, Bretagne said her last goodbyes, walking into the hospital surrounded by saluting firefighters and emergency response team members. In a stunning, heart -wrenching tableau, her colleagues gave her the final standing ovation she so rightfully deserved. Bretagne passed next to her caregiver, loved, remembered, and revered.
Dogs really can make a difference and Bretagne joins the ranks of thousands of dogs who have served their country with dignity and bravery. The loss of the last dog to have responded to the 9/11 crisis is a heavy weight to bear. It is the last in a generation to have intimately experienced the tragedy of that fateful day. America is stronger than ever now because of your heroism, Bretagne, you rest forever in our hearts.
Watch the Hero Dogs of 9/11 Legacy special
Rest in Peace, Bretagne, we salute you.
A special thank you to Texas Task Force 1 and to the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) for the use of Bretagne’s Photographs. We thank you for the hard work and dedication you put into protecting American lives. You are truly heroes every day.
In these days of recent tragedy and loss, let’s celebrate love and hope and not give in to hate. Our hearts go out to the victims, families and friends in Orlando and other victims of terrorism and hate.