Through the turmoil 18 years ago on 9/11, there emerged stories of survival, courage, and hope. As we remember those lost and affected by the tragic event, the heartwarming story of two guide dog heroes who helped save their owners' lives lives on.
This time of year brings a lot of pain, vivid memories, and reminiscing about an event that changed people's lives all over the world. As we look back at the events that played out on September 11, 2001, we learn of the heroics of two guide dogs who stayed calm and focused to fulfil their role as a trained guide dog.
Salty, a loyal hero
Salty, a beautiful yellow Labrador retriever, was born in 1996. He was trained as a guide dog.
Salty and his new companion, Omar Rivera met four years later and became inseparable; he became Omar's eyes.
On September 11, 2001, Salty and Omar were on the 71st floor of the World Trade Center's north tower when they heard a sound like no other. Both of them knew something terrible had happened. Grabbing her lead, Omar was led by Salty to the stairwell. Despite the rush and panic around them, Salty pushed through his own fear to carry out his role for Mr Rivera.
At one point in the chaos, heat, smoke, and panic in the stairwell, Omar let go of Salty's lead to allow him to run down to safety. A co-worker also tried to help by taking Salty's lead. But Salty refused to leave Omar and stood his ground. Omar realised he had to accept Salty's commitment to his role.
It took Salty and Omar over an hour to descend the 71 floors. And only a matter of minutes after arriving in the street, the tower collapsed.
Salty and Omar had made it in time.
Roselle, an unflappable hero
Roselle, another yellow Labrador retriever, was born in 1998. She met owner Michael Hingson in 1999 and like Salty, she became her owner's pair of eyes.
Roselle and Michael were also in the World Trade Center's north tower, on the 78th floor. When the first plane hit their building, Roselle was immediately woken up from a nap. Despite the chaos, she managed to remain calm and led Hingson and a few of his co-workers to the exit.
1,463 steps later, they arrived at the bottom of Tower 1 and out onto the street. However, Tower 2 began collapsing and they were forced to run for shelter. Despite bits of debris falling on the pair, the courageous Roselle remained composed and got the job done - she got her best friend and owner Michael out of danger.
About Roselle, Hingson later wrote: "She saved my life. While everyone ran in panic, Roselle remained totally focused on her job. While debris fell around us, and even hit us, Roselle stayed calm."
We can't even begin to imagine what they all went through.
Honors for heroes Salty and Roselle
In March 2002, just six months after the events of 9/11, both Salty and Roselle were invited to receive a Dickin medal from the British charity, People's Dispensary for Sick Animals. Entirely deserving of their awards, they were recognized for their loyalty and courage in the face of the enormous circumstances unfolding on that fateful day in New York.
Both Salty and Roselle have since sadly passed away, but their memory, loyalty, commitment, and bravery lives on with all of us. We honor them today and every day, and thank them for their actions on that tragic day.
If you want to read more about Salty and Roselle, you can do so here.
Image used for illustration purposes only