She served her country well on that horrible day in September 2001, when she and her partner combed through the ruins of the World Trade Center for searching for survivors and human remains.
It was the first search and rescue mission for a 2-year-old Golden Retriever named Bretagne – pronounced “Brittany.”
They worked 12-hour shifts for nearly two weeks straight on little sleep, digging through the rubble side-by-side.
The presence of Bretagne and hundreds of other rescue dogs at the scene, most of them Labradors and Golden Retrievers, comforted the exhausted rescuers and firefighters.
“Dogs can be so comforting, so it makes sense to me now,” Bretagne’s owner and partner, Denise Corliss, told CNN. “I just didn’t anticipate that, then.”
The World Trade Center was their first mission together. On Monday they spent their last moments together.
Bretagne, the last known surviving 9/11 rescue dog, was euthanized at a veterinary hospital in Cypress, Texas, a Houston suburb, according to a statement from the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service.
She was 16 and suffering kidney failure.
As a distraught Corliss led the ailing, slow-moving dog down the sidewalk into the vet hospital, they walked between two rows of firefighters who stood at attention, saluting and crying.
“She had lived longer and accomplished more than anybody,” Capt. David Padovan, spokesman for the Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department told the New York Daily News of Bretagne.
“She was one of a kind. She was always eager to do searches, even after she ‘retired.’”
Corliss bought Bretagne in 1999 and within a couple of years they were assigned to Texas Task Force I, known as the most active urban search and rescue team in the country.
The World Trade Center was the beginning of many national disasters the two worked together. According to CNN, they were called into action after Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and other storms.
Bretagne left Texas Task Force 1 in 2009 to focus on her work as a local fire department search and rescue dog. A couple of years later she retired altogether, according to CNN.
But she kept serving the community, visiting grade-school classrooms where students worked on their reading skills by reading aloud to her. Corliss and her husband took her one last time to visit students as they fulfilled a bucket list for Bretagne in her final days.
Corliss realized it was time to say good-bye when Bretagne stopped eating in recent days.
“She was really anxious last night and she just wanted to be with me,” she told Today on Monday.
“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.”
Bretagne was draped in an American flag and taken from the vet hospital to Texas A&M University where veterinarians will study her body to see if she suffered any effects from working at Ground Zero.