9/11 rescue dog busy as anniversary nears
INDIANAPOLIS - An Indianapolis rescue dog is as busy as ever as Americans remember the September 11 attacks. Now retired, Kaiser is about to board a plane for New York. It will be his first time back since September 2001, when he became a hero at Ground Zero.
Ten years ago, Kaiser was part of the FEMA search and rescue team, one of four dogs dispatched from Indiana to the World Trade Center in New York.
"It just didn't look real," said Tony Zintsmaster of Indiana Task Force One.
But it was all too real and dangerous. It didn't take long for Kaiser to show his stuff.
"Being able to go out on a beam that is ten inches wide and look over the drop and say that is not right and then turn around and come back on the same beam. Pretty amazing for a dog of that size," Zintsmaster said.
Three hundred dogs in all assisted in the search and rescue that soon turned into a recovery effort and, even after that, evolved into somewhat of a therapy session.
"One of the ones that sticks with me is the guy who walked up and just silently hugged my dog. I never said anything to him and he never said anything to me. Something he needed to do. He hugged him for awhile and moved on," Zintsmaster said.
The role that rescue dogs played in 9/11 is highlighted in a book entitled "Dog Heroes of September 11th." Kaiser is right there on pages 72-73.
He injured his foot during the rescue effort. Eyewitness News was there in New York City at the Javitts Center as the veterinarian stitched him back up. His cries showed just how painful it was, but for the record, Kaiser was back on the job the very next day.
"I used to say if I ever put a caption under his picture, it would say 'I'm in'," Zintsmaster said.
For Kaiser, the mind is clear, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
"You are not allowed to get old. I told you that. None of that getting old stuff," Zintsmaster said.
Now the dog hero has settled into being a dog companion.
The beams at the 9/11 memorial in downtown Indianapolis are just like the beams that Kaiser searched. He is off for New York to guest on Governor Mike Huckabee's TV show. He will return to Indiana Saturday so he can be the grand marshal at Carmel's Dog Day Afternoon and 9/11 tribute on Sunday.