Last September, a very special belated birthday was celebrated while a national tragedy was commemorated. That’s because Bretagne, the last known surviving service dog who aided in rescue efforts at Ground Zero in New York on September 11, 2001, had just turned 16 that August. Sadly, the beautiful golden retriever passed away just two months short of her 17th birthday on Monday in Cypress, Texas.
According to Today, owner Denise Corliss realized something was wrong when Bretagne (pronounced “Brittany”) didn’t eat for three days-straight. After consultation with a veterinarian, and considering the dog’s advanced age and many health ailments, Corliss made the painful decision to have Bretagne put to sleep at the Fairfield Animal Hospital.
“She was really anxious last night and she just wanted to be with me,” the heartbroken owner told Today. “So I laid down with her, right next to her. When she could feel me, she could settle down and go to sleep. I slept with her like that all night.”
On Monday, several local volunteer firefighters, members of Texas Task Force 1 (an urban search and rescue group), and other agency representatives stood at attention outside the animal hospital while Corliss walked Bretagne in. Following the procedure, they remained at attention and saluted when the pup’s body was brought out, draped in an American flag. From there, Bretagne’s remains were taken to nearby Texas A&M University for an ongoing study researching the health effects suffered by 9/11 rescue dogs at the veterinary school.
The beautiful pooch officially retired from rescue work at the age of 9. However, instead of sitting around Corliss’ house all day, she spent her remaining years working as a service and therapy dog for children and reading programs at local schools. You will be missed, Bretagne.