The Year of the Dog

Salty was on the 71st floor of World Trade Center Tower 1; Roselle was on the 78th.  Both were at work when terror struck on 911, serving as guide dogs for their blind masters who worked in the building.  Salty and Roselle were yellow Labrador retrievers, trained at Guiding Eyes for the Blind in Yorktown Heights, and had been with their humans since the late 90s.  When the plane hit the building and panic, death, and chaos surrounded them, Salty and Roselle went to work. 

Salty was sitting next to Omar Rivera, blinded 14 years earlier by glaucoma.  Omar grabbed for Salty’s leash and the dog calmly threaded his way through people and debris to the fire escape.  At one point, a well-meaning but unknowing co-worker tried to grab Salty’s leash, thinking the dog needed help.  Salty refused to leave Omar’s side and made it clear he had everything under control.  It took 75 minutes to descend 71 floors to the lobby.  They were a few blocks away when the tower collapsed.  Salty had saved them both.

Roselle was asleep when the building was struck by the aircraft 15 floors above the office where she and her human, Michael Hingson, worked.  Michael was blind since birth and met Roselle in 1999.  Roselle, like Salty, rescued her human companion, along with 30 others who followed them down the fire escape.  About half way to the lobby they passed several firefighters who were climbing the stairs and Roselle stopped to greet them.  After descending 1,463 steps, Roselle and Michael were on the ground floor.  As they left the building, Tower 2 suddenly collapsed, spewing debris that showered on them.  “She saved my life,” Michael said later.  “While everyone ran in panic, Roselle remained totally focused on her job. While debris fell around us, and even hit us, Roselle stayed calm.”  She led Michael to a subway station, where she rescued a woman who had been blinded by flying dust and debris.


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