The Short of It
An emotional video honoring a Golden Retriever named Bretagne—believed to be the last living 9/11 search and rescue dog—shows the brave pooch being feted as part of Bark Post's "Dog's Best Day for the Ages." But beyond being a sweet birthday party honoring the 16-year-old dog's service, it can also help parents explain the tragic attack on our homeland that changed not just America, but the world, forever.
Denise Corliss and her dog, Bretagne, a two-year-old Golden Retriever at the time of the September 11th attacks on our nation, were members of Texas Task Force 1—and traveled to New York City to help with search and rescue efforts. It was their very first mission.
"When our task force arrived in Ground Zero, I just couldn't believe the magnitude," Corliss said. "And I looked down at her [Bretagne], and she seemed stoic and ready to work." The canine "stayed focused" when Corliss says the rescue mission, sadly, turned to recovery. When Bark Post heard Bretagne's story and learned she was the last known living pup that tirelessly searched Ground Zero, there was no question that this special girl deserved a "Dog's Best Day for the Ages" to celebrate her 16th birthday—the group wasted no time organizing a trip to New York City.
Watch this video—with a box of tissues—to decide if it's appropriate to show your child. It's obviously heartbreaking at times, but I found more joy in it—watching Bretagne's warm welcome at LaGuardia airport, seeing her scarf a fancy room service burger at 1 Hotel Central Park, and going along for her ride in a vintage yellow cab. There are so many more special, emotional things happening in this video, like Corliss explaining how important Bretagne's mere presence was to all the responders who needed her comfort in an unfathomable time.
Talking about 9/11 with kids is tricky. My son, Jack, is 8, and I've been broaching the topic gently since he was 5 and his daycare asked all the children to wear red, white and blue on the anniversary. After viewing this video in private with my 1-year-old Golden Retriever, Lucy (who looks exactly like Bretagne) resting her head on my lap, I decided to show it to Jack.
Bretagne's story can show kids that during an extraordinarily dark day in America, there were brave first responders like Corliss and Bretagne who stood up for our country and helped in every way possible. This is the first year I was open with Jack about the attacks of 9/11. I showed him footage of the second plane tearing into tower two. I explained that another plane hijacked by bad guys also hurt people at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., where President Obama lives.
And I told him the story of the brave passengers aboard flight 93 who gave their lives to overpower the terrorists that hijaked the plane and were most likely headed to the White House to cause more unthinkable damage. While he had questions, he was most impressed with the story of Bretagne, because he has the same breed dog. He was so happy to see her play at the doggy water park downtown and get a surprise birthday message broadcasted in Times Square. For the first time, my child understood what really happened on that day and took away that our country is, "full of so many heroes, mom—even dog heroes."