This one photo has never left my mind, heart, or soul as the images
from such a tragic day tend to be indelibly marked.
The following post originally appeared on May 28, 2007, but sad news that I received today from his Riley’s dad, Chris Selfridge, prompted my giving it top billing again. My heart is truly heavy today. Although I never got to meet Riley, I loved him as did so many other folks who had been glued to their television sets after the attack on the twin towers.
On 2/26/10, Riley passed away. He was our family pet, my friend and partner. Riley was 13 in November. He lived a good life and taught me many lessons during his time with me. He will be greatly missed. I love you Bub!
Dog book author, Susan McCullough, has included Riley in her upcoming book on Golden Retrievers and learned more about his final days.
While Riley had aced a physical this past December, a mass was found in his abdomen on February 20. Surgery to remove the mass took place on February 24, but Riley died two days later.
Chris and I exchanged email last fall when I was writing my book about Golden Retrievers and wanted to feature Riley as a representative of the breed. At that point, Riley was still enjoying chasing Frisbees and had helped to welcome a new puppy into the family. He clearly was enjoying his retirement from SAR work.
I am so glad Riley was able to be by his family’s side for a little over 13 years. Cancer has kept me from having a Golden Retriever 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.
May 28, 2007 Post
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.