The last known surviving search dog that helped workers sift through the wreckage of ground zero following the Sept. 11 terror attacks just celebrated its 16th birthday in the Big Apple.
Bretagne, a female golden retriever, is likely the last of 300 or so dogs that worked at ground zero in the days and months following the attacks 14 years ago. Last month, to celebrate her 16th birthday, dog treat company Bark & Co. flew her and handler and fellow 9/11 responder Denise Corliss up from Cypress, Texas, to Manhattan for a tour of the city, according to TODAY.com.
"There are so many reasons Bretagne's story is special, but this one really hit home for BarkPost since we are based in New York," said Laura Hartle, creative producer for BarkPost Video, which coordinated the celebration. "To be able to have the chance to thank one of the dogs who helped our city when we needed it most was an unforgettable experience."
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Once they made it to the city, Bretagne, Corliss and Corliss' husband were treated to a cab ride in one of New York City's vintage checker cabs. They enjoyed a luxe stay at 1 Hotel Central Park, where Bretagne got to chow down on a gourmet hamburger.
The festivities didn't stop there. One of Times Square's bright video displays lit up with Bretagne's visage, and she played like a puppy in Hudson River Park's dog run. While at the Tribeca park, Corliss and Bretagne were presented with an engraved Tiffany & Co. "Bone to the Dog Park."
Before the family left, the staff of Bark & Co., which runs treat subscription company BarkBox and a the website BarkPost, threw her a surprise birthday party. Bretagne received a custom cake and a bevy of dog treats and toys from the subscription service.
Corliss and her dog were also treated to a special gift that will be seen by millions: a cobblestone dedicated in their honor at the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum in Lower Manhattan.
And all along the way, New Yorkers stopped to thank the pooch and her handler for their service following the attacks 14 years ago.
"It was really surprising and very touching to see how many people were involved and excited about her coming back to New York," Bretagne's longtime handler and owner, Denise Corliss of Cypress, Texas, told TODAY.com. "Of course, it's not just about Bretagne. It's about the love and support that New York showed for those who responded to 9/11. She's kind of a symbol of that."
"People we met on this trip were very emotional and very nice to us," she said. "People were hugging her, and some were crying."
The trip was the second time Bretagne and Corliss made the trek up from Texas since the attacks, according to Today.com. They made national news last year when they returned to the World Trade Center for an interview with NBC's Tom Brokaw.