Meet Bretagne: The last surviving ground zero dog

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Meet Bretagne: The Last Surviving 'Ground Zero' Dog

During the rescue effort at ground zero after the Sept. 11 attacks, about 300 dogs were sent in, both to help search and do what they do best — cheer people up.

SEE MORE 9/11 SPECIAL COVERAGE:Health problems linger 14 years after 9/11

"The firemen and the police were completely stone faced, but when they'd see one of the dogs, their eyes lit up a little bit," a trailer for a TV special on the Hero Dogs of 9/11 says.

Bretagne, a 16-year-old golden retriever, is thought to be the last of those four-legged heroes still alive.

See the stories of more 9/11 rescue dogs:
20 PHOTOS
9/11/2001: Rescue Dogs
See Gallery
Meet Bretagne: The last surviving ground zero dog
BRETAGNE, age 13, Cypress TX. Denise Corliss and Bretagne were at the World Trade Center from September 17 to the 27th with TX-TF-1.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Charlotte Dumas / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
BRETAGNE, age 13, Cypress TX. Denise Corliss and Bretagne were at the World Trade Center from September 17 to the 27th with TX-TF-1.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Charlotte Dumas / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
TUFF, age 12, Ashland MO. Tuff and Tom Andert arrived in New Jersey with the MO-TF-1 at 11:00 pm on the 11th to start working early the next day the World Trade Center.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Charlotte Dumas / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
MERLYN, age 14, Otis CO. Merlyn, owned by Ann Wichmann, was deployed with handler Matt Claussen and worked the night shift while Ann and search dog Jenner worked during the day as part of CO-TF-1. They searched the rubble of the World Trade Center for five days starting on September 24.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Charlotte Dumas / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
SCOUT, age 14, McCordsville IN. IN-TF-1 was activated on the morning of the 11th. Together with Blake Wallis, Scout was deployed to the World Trade Center the same afternoon. Their last shift was on Wednesday the 19th.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Charlotte Dumas / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
ORION, age 13, Vacaville CA. Orion and Robert Macaulay were part of the third wave of deployments and worked with the CA-TF-4 at the World Trade Center from September 23 to October 1.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Charlotte Dumas / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Blake Wallis / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
ABIGAIL, age 13, Ojai CA. Abigail and Debra Tosch were deployed together with Duke and Howard Orr, arriving on the evening of September 17 at the World Trade Center and then searching for 10 days.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Charlotte Dumas / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Blake Wallis / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
MOXIE, age 13, Winthrop MA. Moxie and her handler, Mark Aliberti, arrived at the World Trade Center with MA-TF-1 on the evening of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, and searched the site for 8 days.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Charlotte Dumas / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
RED, age 11, Annapolis MD. Red and Heather Roche were deployed to the Pentagon from September 16 until the 27th. They were part of the Bay Area Recovery Canines and later joined the MD-TF-1.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Charlotte Dumas / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
HOKE, age 13, Denver CO. Julie Noyes and Hoke were also part of CO-TF-1. With Julie by his side, Hoke was deployed to the World Trade Center on September 24 and searched for 5 days.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Charlotte Dumas / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
GUINNESS, age 15, Highland CA. Sheila McKee and Guinness flew the evening of the 12th with CA-TF-6 and started working on the morning of the 13th. They were deployed to the World Trade Center for 11 days.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Charlotte Dumas / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
TARA, age 16, Ipswich MA. Tara and Lee Prentiss arrived at the World Trade Center with MA-TF-1 on the night of the 11th. They were there for 8 days.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Charlotte Dumas / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
ABIGAIL, age 13, Ojai CA. Abigail and Debra Tosch were deployed together with Duke and Howard Orr, arriving on the evening of September 17 at the World Trade Center and then searching for 10 days.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Charlotte Dumas / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
Collect picture of Scout and unknown dog working at 9/11 site.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Blake Wallis / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
BAILEY, age 14, Franklin TN. Bailey and Keith Lindley were deployed to the Pentagon with TN-TF-1. They arrived the morning of the 12th and searched for 9 days.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Charlotte Dumas / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
MERLYN, age 14, Otis CO. Merlyn, owned by Ann Wichmann, was deployed with handler Matt Claussen and worked the night shift while Ann and search dog Jenner worked during the day as part of CO-TF-1. They searched the rubble of the World Trade Center for five days starting on September 24.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Charlotte Dumas / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
KAISER, age 12, pictured at home was deployed to the World Trade Center September 11, 2001.Almost three thousand people died in the attacks of 9/11 and in the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, only 12 of these heroic canines, survive, victims of the passing of time and commemorated in a touching series titled 'Retrieved' put together by photographer Charlotte Dumas. Traveling across nine states in the US from Texas to Maryland, Charlotte, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from America's worst nightmare. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. (Photo by Charlotte Dumas / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
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Last year, Bretagne and her owner, Denise Corliss, were profiled for the "Today" show when they returned to ground zero. The dogs were the last resort and final authority on whether rescuers could move on from an area.

"It was concerning because you wanted to make sure you had a thorough search before they removed that area," Corliss told Tom Brokaw in 2014.

SEE MORE 9/11 SPECIAL COVERAGE:How the New York City skyline has changed

After 9/11, Bretagne was deployed to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, and aided search and rescue efforts after Hurricane Rita.

See the dogs at work in September 2001:
21 PHOTOS
9/11/2001: Rescue Dogs at Work
See Gallery
Meet Bretagne: The last surviving ground zero dog
(Photo: FEMA/Andrea Booher) 
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After a much-deserved retirement in 2008, Bretagne serves as an ambassador for search and rescue dogs, all while helping kids practice reading out loud.

See more special coverage of the 14th anniversary of 9/11:
Love stories of 9/11 show resilience in the face of grief
Children of 9/11 want to focus on the future
14 iconic images of 9/11
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