Golden Retriever Riley: The Real Canine Hero from 9/11 – Updated

I have a page at the foundation site on our Disaster Search and Rescue Goldens. It details a great book, Dog Heroes of September 11th: A Tribute to America’s Search and Rescue Dogs. The book details the stories of 77 handlers and their Search and Rescue dogs who responded at the World Trade Center & Pentagon following the September 11th attacks. It shows a photo of Dissaster SAR Golden, Riley.

Riley is one of the most famous dogs of Sept. 11 because of a photo taken of him at the World Trade Center site a few days after the attacks. In the photo, Riley is in a basket being sent over a 60-foot-deep canyon to search the rubble of the North Tower. “Normally when we send a dog, the handler goes with him,” said Riley’s trainer, Chris Selfridge. “This time we decided it was more practical to just send the dog.

I also recently learned of video being available of Golden Riley through SAR worker and author extraordinaire, Susannah Charleson. She is most familiar with this apparatus on Riley as she has trained in activities with similar gear with her SAR Golden Puzzle.

It is wonderful to actually have footage of the Golden Retriever who really DID work at the World Trade Center (separating him from those preposterous claims made by Scott Shields).

Riley is now retired, and suffers from various skin problems and the like due to his time at Ground Zero.

Feb 26, 2010 Update
So sorry to hear this from
Riley’s dad, Chris Selfridge.

On 2/26/10, Riley passed away. He was our family pet, my friend and partner. He will be greatly missed. I love you Bub!


13 thoughts on “Golden Retriever Riley: The Real Canine Hero from 9/11 – Updated

  1. I think the work these wonderful dogs do is just fantastic. I would be so frightened to send my dog off to search that way. While watching them unhook Riley I couldn’t help but notice his beautiful tail start to wag as soon as he was free.

    It is awe inspiring.

  2. We have that book in our library, and we would recommend it to anyone…… is a wonderful book.

  3. Pretty obvious that is Riley, and not, as stated by the Captain his BEAR.
    Bear was an aged dog with a white face, he was not capable of being hoisted up or down at any time, he did not go into voids of steam.
    He was not a trained SAR dog.
    Infact the good Captain is not even a Captain – except safety patrol in school.
    I thank god someone has the balls to confront what we all in SAR know to be the truth.

  4. On 2/26/10, Riley passed away. He was our family pet, my friend and partner. He will be greatly missed. I love you Bub!

  5. Oh my Chris, I am so, so sorry for your loss. I think so many people were in love with your boy. I know I was. I only wish I could have met him during happier days.

  6. Riley was 13 in November. He lived a good life and taught me many lessons during his time with me.

  7. Chris, I am so glad he was able to be here over 13 years. Cancer has kept me from having a Golden beyond the age of 11. These special souls live their lives so intensely, never tiring of seeing our faces or simply the joy of going for a walk or getting a treat. I don’t think we could ever appreciate life or live it as well as they do. So, while it seems like they have such short lives, I think they live far longer than we do when it comes to happiness and fulfillment.

  8. Chris, my heart goes out to you and your family. i salute and admire your boy for everything he has done in his lifetime. he will be missed.

  9. Chris, I am so deeply saddend to hear about the loss of your sweet, wonderful Riley. He was truly a hero in his lifetime! The video is amazing as he sat harnessed, waiting patiently in the basket. He looked so eagar to do his job. Your right, he did live a good life, but it never seems long enough, does it? My three Goldens are 13, 9 and 3 years, I look at every day as another gift I have with all of them.

    My heart goes out to you and your family to get through this hard time. Rest in Peace Riley

  10. Chris, my heart really goes out to you. I have a Golden named Bailey who is almost 11. She’s the absolute love of my life and I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose her. I have not seen the video of her being lowered at Ground Zero before today. I cryed as I watched it, not only because of your loss, but the warm and loving feeling I got as she was being hugged and kissed when she was freed. My thoughts are with you. By the way, I have a orange and white tabby cat named “Reilly”. 🙂

  11. Chris, Riley was my sisters pal when she was a little girl . The dog is was a special dog. He will be missed greatly

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