Volunteering and Giving Back at World Trade Center

We have all been affected by the World Trade Center and September 11th. Volunteering where one can and giving back for many have been a very gratifying experience.

Besides the Search and Rescue dogs, the Pet Therapy Organizations and their teams have been busy at work since September 11th.

On Sunday October 28th we had an opportunity to be at Liberty State Park. Usually my remembrance of Liberty State Park were bringing out of town visitors and Palisades Kennel Club Dog Show. However, on this day we were there for the families and the volunteers.

The Memorial Service was held at Ground Zero this day. After the service at Ground Zero the families returned to Liberty State Park or 94th St Pier.

As the families waited for their turn to receive their Urns and Flags, the Red Cross served dinner for "thousands". The dogs were there to comfort the families and their children.

Between the tears there is always a heart warming story and I just had to share this one with you. This day I was working Lucy, and she is a trooper even as the food was whipping by her and she wished for one meat ball to slip, she continued working. We met a lovely family with two young boys. I would say there were around 5 and 7 years old. Well they just feel in love with the dogs. Lucy was working the crowd for food and doing all her tricks. The boys had a wonderful time giving her treats as she did her favorite sit up and beg and give paw. Lucy also laid down for them so that they could hug and pet her. The family went to get their Urn and Flag and put the boys in the Children's Care Area. Lucy and I went into the other room to visit the people waiting.

About an hour later, the two boys came running towards us waving 2 stuffed animal dogs. The Children's Care Center gave each child a toy of their choice. They had been looking for Lucy to show her their new toys. The younger boy had a reddish brown dog he was hugging. He couldn't leave until he showed Lucy his toy and he wanted to ask my permission if it was ok to name his new stuffed dog Lucy. Well Lucy and I were flattered, that was such a compliment.

It is just nice to know that Lucy left such a wonderful impression on these young boys. I guess that this is what Pet Therapy is all about.

The day was a total success in Lucy's view. She managed a piece of chicken, two chocolate chip cookies, a whole bunch of dog treats, tons of hugs, and she chased the pigeons around Liberty State Park when I walked her. She is, after all, a Chesapeake and birds are birds no matter what the setting.

A state trooper who observed her performance said it was quite a sight when Lucy locked on a pigeon and pulled me across the parking lot. He was beginning to wonder if he would need to organize a human/dog rescue from the Hudson River when the bird stopped fooling around and got serious about flying. Once Lucy realized the bird was not a cripple that she could catch, she gave up. (Chesapeakes are renowned for perseverance but they are also smart enough to know when the cause is lost.)

We have all been affected by September 11. Not only was my country attacked but the worst attack happened almost in my back yard. For a middle-aged, slightly-out-of-shape woman, the options for retaliation against the bad guys are limited. Volunteering where we can has made me feel like I'm doing something to fight back."

The dogs of Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs that worked were all added to the New Jersey Veterinary Foundation's Animals Hall of Fame with a wonderful ceremony on April 13th. All the dogs received a Medallion and certificates. It was great to be honored and recognized.

Joanne Silver


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