This is Sirius

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, September 11, 2012 8:20 PM

He was born in January 1997, wriggly and pale, not nearly as bright as the name he would be given. He grew quickly, went through extensive training at the Port Newark K-9 Center and when he graduated on July 15, 2000, he went to work as an Explosive Detection Dog, partnered with Sergeant David Lim of the Port Authority of New York and the New Jersey Police K-9 Unit. His name was Sirius. His badge number was 17. He would not live to see his fifth birthday.

Lim and Sirius were assigned to the Port Authority Police Station in the basement of the World Trade Center, Tower Two. The South Tower. Together they checked trucks and other vehicles entering the building for explosives, a job that had become even more important after the failed February 26, 1993 attack when a truck bomb was detonated below the North Tower. Sirius and Sim worked tirelessly each day and would return at night to Sim’s home where Sirius would sleep on the floor next to his master and handler’s bed. Sim described his nearly 100 pound dog, a big Yellow Labrador Retriever, as a “big mush” who thought he was a lap dog but who was completely dedicated and methodical when he was working.

Lim and Sirius were on duty on that bright Tuesday morning in September when madmen flew airplanes into both towers. Lim, not wanting Sirius to get lost in the chaos, put him in his kennel in their basement office, assuring the undoubtedly frantic dog that he would be back for him. Lim ran to help but never made it back for Sirius. When the South Tower collapsed at 9:59 am, less than an hour after United flight 175 hit between the 77th and 85th floors, Sirius was killed, crushed instantly while still inside his kennel. He was the only dog to die in the line of duty during the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Sirius is the dog star, so named by ancient Greeks. It is the brightest star in the sky, the anchor of the constellation Canis Major. The big dog. He is the watchdog of the heavens, fixed in one place at the bridge of the Milky Way, there to keep a watchful eye on the great abyss. He has burned brightly since time began.

It is said that Sirius the dog star contains the essence of souls. Perhaps it now contains that of the dog that lived up to that legend, the legend of his name.

More than 350 trained search and rescue dogs worked at Ground Zero following the attacks, using their senses of smell and better agility to direct workers to those who were injured or deceased. An additional 350 therapy dogs were also deployed to help comfort people. Among them German Shepherds, Australian Shepherds, Belgian Shepherds, Rat Terriers, Portuguese Waterdogs, Border Collies, Belgian Malinois, Golden Retrievers, and Chocolate, Black and Yellow Labradors like Sirius. Most worked in shifts of 7 to 14 days in order to limit their risk for respiratory illness; no others died during the rescue and then recovery efforts.

Many have since passed on, some from old age, some from neurological conditions, some from cancers. Only twelve of the dogs that searched through the debris are still alive. They walked through twisted metal and across broken glass, crawling into small spaces, in the dark, working to find survivors. Ultimately only 20 people were pulled from the World Trade Center. Of the thousands who perished, many of their remains were discovered by these dogs, perhaps allowing for some sense of despondent closure for the families. The dogs also did something else: they helped alleviate anxiety. They provided hope for the hundreds of workers who strained under inhuman conditions in the hope of finding someone, anyone alive.

Officer Sim himself had been trapped for five hours on what was left of the fourth floor of Tower One when it collapsed at 10:28 that morning. Once freed, he tried to make his way to his dog, and was stopped by other rescue workers.

Sirius, as painted by artist Debbie Stonebraker

Sirius’ body was recovered on January 22, 2002, the month of what would have been his fifth birthday. His body was draped with an American flag. All of the machines digging through the debris were silenced and all workers lined up to salute as he was carried from the wreckage by his friend, Officer Sim.

A memorial service was held on April 24, 2002 at Liberty State Park in Jersey City. One hundred police dogs wearing badges covered by black ribbon attended along with hundreds of human officers. An FBI agent who had found Sirius’ metal water bowl in Lim’s car amidst the debris presented it to Lim, inscribed with these words: “I gave my life so that you may save others.”

Sirius didn’t have the opportunity to help on that day, but he was – and is –  a star of legend and mythology. Today, like so many others, his star continues to burn brightly, to show the way for other heroic dogs; to make sure that each of us knows the power, the wonder and the joy of living it out loud. 

The Tuesday episode

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, July 24, 2012 11:35 PM

In today’s installment of Lorin’s weird dreams, I was in my old college Toyota, having chosen that over my mother’s much sleeker Supra and I was driving one of my clients and her little girl to the beach. My sister was also with us but she was about 5. It was raining like hell, I couldn’t see but I was driving straight ahead as if I could. My brother was there, too, at the front of the car, telling me which way to go – to the right! – like he was on the bow of a boat – starboard! – so as not to hit anything or go off the road. But I hit something anyway and then I had to get another car and the beach was too crowded anyway.

To which I say, huh?

The human mind is an amazing place to visit but I’m not sure I’d want to live there.

On this Tuesday, I have spent some time watching a service-puppy-cam. I do this sometimes simply for the smile value. It’s addictive, watching puppies frolic and eat and sleep and play. There are six particular puppies on this one live cam, and one mother, all golden retrievers. The puppies are in training to become service dogs. They evidently start this training at a very early age, conditioning them to certain things. I don’t know what all was done, but I watched the woman I’m assuming is Holly since the cam’s name is Holly’s Half Dozen as she lifted each up onto a table, removed their collars, maybe trimmed their nails, fed them something off her fingers and made sure they stood up. There was no sound on the cam; I wish there was. I would like to have heard the little puppy yips and yuks as they pounced and chewed and acted all kinds of puppy-tough. I’ve had the cam minimized, down in the lower right of my screen, most of the day.

At one point I had first Bobbi and then Kevin completely hooked. Kevin was even doing a running commentary. Hey, guys. Watch this. Hey. Where’s mom? Hey, did you see what’s happening over here?

A still from Tuesday's puppy-cam episode

Watching these little balls of fluff on puppy TV made me remember my own ball of fluff when he was just 8 weeks old. So much energy, bounding around the house, bouncing instead of running, eating his food in mid-air as we were pouring it into his bowl, terrified to go too far on a walk, even on his leash. We kennel-trained Maguire, and each night, after he had been fed and taken outside for a small puppy walk, we’d let him run around the house. Each night, that meant a gradual emptying of his kennel. His house, we called it. It was his den, his sanctuary. There was a blanket, his toys. And one by one, each thing inside would be carried outside and deposited in a nice little Maguire pile on the rug in the dining room. Then the playing would commence.

When we first got our beloved boy, we still lived in a two-story town house with a sunken living room. There were two steps down and he handled those well. The stairs up to the second floor were another tail all together. They were split, with three up to a small landing, then a 90º turn to the left where the majority of the steps loomed and led to another landing. Another sharp 90º turn to the left, up two and you were in the hallway that separated the two bedrooms. He could get up the first three, make the turn and then get up one. Then he’d stand there with his front paws up on the next step, rear legs on the first step, and cry that wonderful little puppy cry that said “it’s too scary; I can’t do it.” One of us would pick him up, assuring him that everything was just fine. He tried and tried.

One night, after I’d gotten home and taken him out, he was tearing around the dining room with his blue bone in his mouth. I dashed upstairs to get something and as I was up there, the phone rang. I was in the master bedroom; I grabbed it. It was Kevin. We talked for only a minute or two but as I was standing in the bedroom, suddenly this little black ball of fur popped around the corner. He had made it up all the stairs. He raced down the hall toward me, little legs moving as fast as he could make them, his ears flopping in his created breeze, tongue hanging just to one side of his mouth; a big grin on his face. He was so proud. He had braved the mountain to get to mom and he had conquered.

I’ll never forget that moment. Even now, as I type the story, I’m smiling through my tears. Dog, he was cute.

On the web cam, mom has come in. She’s eating as the puppies feed. She looks sad, in that beautiful way that dogs do; I suspect she’s over this motherhood thing. They’re getting too big; she’s tired.

There are seven dogs on this show, all of them that sweet honey color, all of them well-cared for; loved. It’s crowded like the beach in my dream but the weather is fine. It’s naptime now. One just tipped over his brother, another stood in the empty food bowl. Another one is curled on what I believe is the equivalent of the puppy litter box. Mom is lying in the middle of them all, surveying her pups. Now her head, too, goes down. Soon the feet twitch; the dreams have begun.

Another episode comes to an end. Roll credits.

In service

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, June 5, 2012 11:33 PM

Today is primary day in California but unlike many other states, it’s pretty low-key. Mitt Romney has already clinched the republican party nomination, Obama is the sole democrat on the ballot, and California is mostly a forgone conclusion anyway. We’re heavily blue out here. There are also some open seats for congressional seats. There has been a lot of redistricting, and so we had to choose who we want to run in the fall. There are also some ballot initiatives, though thankfully not as many as usual. I’m not a big fan of ballot initiatives, especially if they involve allotting a certain amount of money to a certain cause. I’m all for causes, but when people vote to assign money they usually forget that the money needs to come from somewhere else. It’s very myopic. I usually just vote no.

We vote at the elementary school that’s here in the ‘hood. For years we’ve gone at lunchtime. This way we avoid any crowds. Usually there are a few people there; sometimes there are a few more. In 2008, when Obama was elected, it was fairly packed. There was actually a line. Both Kevin and I were thrilled to see that and to wait. I’ve never missed an election, even the smaller ones. I consider it my job as an informed member of the electorate. Besides, I feel more comfortable complaining when I know I had a say.

Today was no different. At about 12:15, we laced up our walking shoes and trucked on down to Red Oak Elementary. School was still in session. There were kids on the playground, at recess, kicking the soccer ball, running around, playing. We walked up the driveway and followed the flags to the auditorium. There were two tables, one labeled A – K, the other L – Z. We made our way to table two, signed in, got our ballots, each went to one of the little voting stands, drew lines between the arrows of the people we were choosing and then put the ballot through the electronic counter. The whole thing took less than 10 minutes.

Outside the auditorium, there were also quite a few kids sitting at the long tables often found on schoolyards and in cafeterias. They’re like elongated picnic tables. There was much chatter and the wonderfully melodic sound of children’s laughter. We glanced back and sitting on the ground behind a little girl at one of the tables, was a yellow Labrador retriever service dog. He was sitting perfectly still, wearing his red service dog vest. He turned his head to look at us. He yawned. Other kids ran by him, there was a great deal of commotion as there often is at an elementary school. He never moved from his post. 

I have long been and suspect I’ll always remain absolutely awed by the canine species. So trusting and true, so loving and in the best circumstances, so loved. I am also amazed by service dogs. Service dogs are trained extensively to help those with various disabilities. Since 1929, when the Seeing Eye Guide Dog organization was established, service dogs have walked beside us. By definition, a service dog has been trained to perform tasks that mitigate the disability of the dog's owner. Since each person experiences a disability differently and therefore has different needs for assistance, each dog is somewhat custom-trained for the individual it will be helping. A dog trained to assist a person in a wheelchair might be taught to pick up dropped items, open and close doors, and turn on and off lights. A dog trained to assist a person who can’t see well might be taught to avoid obstacles at the level of a person's eyes.

There are currently about 20,000 people in the country who use service dogs to help them to see, hear, be more mobile and be more engaged. There are service dogs that help detect seizures and low blood sugar levels, and Ssig dogs, or social signal dogs to help people challenged by autism. Psychiatric service dogs help people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, bi-polar disorder, panic attacks and more.

Yesterday, on, my browser home page, there was a story about soldiers who suffer from disorders like PTSD getting service dogs, or not getting them even when they’re desperately needed. Army Specialist David Bandrowsky, profiled in the article, is lucky enough to have a service dog named Benny. They’ve been together since last November and Bandrowsky feels unsafe if the dog is not at his side. However, according to an Army policy instituted in January, limiting how soldiers can get service dogs, the program is now at great risk, as is Benny’s continued service to his master.

That’s where organizations like Dog Bless You can make a real difference. This group recently started a cause they’re calling Operation Freedom, Lucky’s Army. Lucky is the golden retriever who evidently runs the Facebook page. Their goal is to celebrate the spirit of 76 by donating 76 service dogs to war vets by the 4th of July. For every 1000 likes they get on their page, they donate one dog. As of today, they were up to 24 dogs.


Dog bless them, and dog bless all service dogs. They’re doing what dogs do best. Providing comfort, companionship, their eyes and ears; their instinct.

Perhaps the writer Gene Hill put it best when he wrote this:
“He is my other eyes that can see above the clouds; my other ears that hear above the winds. He is the part of me that can reach out into the sea. He has told me a thousand times over that I am his reason for being; by the way he rests against my leg; by the way he thumps his tail at my smallest smile; by the way he shows his hurt when I leave without taking him. (I think it makes him sick with worry when he is not along to care for me.) When I am wrong, he is delighted to forgive. When I am angry, he clowns to make me smile. When I am happy, he is joy unbounded. When I am a fool, he ignores it. When I succeed, he brags. Without him, I am only another man. With him, I am all-powerful. He is loyalty itself. He has taught me the meaning of devotion. With him, I know a secret comfort and a private peace. He has brought me understanding where before I was ignorant. His head on my knee can heal my human hurts. His presence by my side is protection against my fears of dark and unknown things. He has promised to wait for me… whenever… wherever – in case I need him. And I expect I will – as I always have. He is just my dog.”

A service dog in Italy, 1909

Just living it out loud.

christian louboutin online discount christian louboutin wholesale jerseys from china replica oakleys wholesale jerseys cheap michael kors cheap replica oakleys oakley sunglasses sales cheap jerseys free shopping michael kors handbags nike nhl jerseys cheap nhl jerseys cheap replica oakleys oakleys sale cheap jerseys from china christian louboutin outlet 2016 cheap fake oakleys WHOLESALE AUTHENTIC JERSEYS fake ray bans fake cheap oakleys cheap christian louboutin cheap christian louboutin online cheap jerseys cheap oakleys cheap jerseys from china cheap michael kors wholesale mlb jerseys replica oakleys store cheap jerseys china fake oakleys authentic nhl jerseys cheap wholesale nfl jerseys discount oakleys cheap oakleys fake oakley sunglasses replica christian louboutin cheap oakley sunglasses authentic jerseys cheap cheap oakleys outlet wholesale oakleys christian louboutin online wholesale cheap jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys fake cheap oakleys discount jerseys sale cheap ray bans fake cheap oakleys michael kors outlet cheap wholesale jerseys replica ray bans wholesale jerseys outlet wholesale nba jerseys fake cheap oakleys fake cheap oakleys outlet ray bans sale christian louboutin outlet oakleys sunglasses wholesale authentic jerseys discount ray bans fake cheap oakleys cheap christian louboutin online nhl jerseys cheap nfl jerseys discount ray bans wholesale jerseys cheap ray bans michael kors handbags outlet replica michael kors wholesale oakley sunglasses ray bans outlet cheap jerseys china cheap nba jerseys fake cheap oakleys cheap oakleys cheap ray bans cheap christian louboutin discount oakleys wholesale nfl jerseys cheap michael kors handbags fake cheap oakleys discount christian louboutin wholesale nhl jerseys michael kors on sale discount ray bans cheap jerseys wholesale cheap michael kors cheap replica oakleys cheap michael kors bags replica ray bans cheap sunglasses ray bans authentic jerseys authentic jerseys from china cheap oakleys outlet replica oakley sale red bottoms shoes on sale wholesale oakleys cheap nfl jerseys cheap replica oakleys wholesale oakleys cheap christian louboutin outlet cheap oakleys store cheap michael kors cheap ray bans cheap authentic nfl jerseys paypal cheap fake oakleys cheap oakleys cheap michael kors outlet fake ray bans fake ray bans cheap authentic nike jerseys cheap authentic jerseys fake cheap oakleys fake oakleys store replica oakleys cheap christian louboutin fake oakley cheap cheap jerseys wholesale cheap replica oakleys cheap michael kors outlet wholesale jerseys china cheap oakleys online replica michael kors cheap ray bans jerseys wholesale cheap fake oakleys discount ray bans cheap michael kors store cheap ray bans ray bans sunglasses jerseys wholesale wholesale china jerseys cheap mlb jerseys oakley sunglasses wholesale nba jerseys christian louboutin outlet wholesale oakleys wholesale authentic jerseys wholesale mlb jerseys cheap michael kors outlet cheap jerseys online shopping cheap ncaa jerseys michael kors bags cheap fake oakleys cheap jerseys wholesale cheap fake oakleys cheap replica oakleys cheap michael kors cheap discount ray bans ray bans sunglasses cheap jerseys free shopping cheap nba wholesale jerseys fake oakleys replica oakleys cheap nhl jerseys cheap christian louboutin cheap oakleys official jerseys replica ray bans cheap michael kors outlet wholesale jerseys cheap cheap authentic ncaa jerseys michael kors on sale cheap fake oakleys cheap elite jerseys discount oakleys cheap replica oakleys cheap michael kors online wholesale and retail oakleys fake ray bans cheap wholesale jerseys
Filter by APML