Though it’s impossible to get past the central truth of September 11th, 2001 – that nearly 3,000 people were killed as they went about what felt like another normal, albeit extraordinarily beautiful, fall day – we have all read and clung to the incredible stories of survival of that day in an effort to at least try. We’ve read about the people who got out, who reunited with their loved ones, after all; we’ve heard stories of first responders working tirelessly for days; we’ve heard about the nearly 300 search and rescue dogs who worked just as tirelessly by their side. Of course, there are never enough stories of survival when thousands still died. But some stories are so remarkable they bring life back into focus again. The story of a yellow lab named Roselle is such a story. Somehow I only just learned of it, eleven years later.
She was a guide dog for Michael Hingson, a blind man who worked on the 78th floor of Tower One. And that’s where they were when American Airlines Flight 11 struck between the 93rd and 99th floors. Roselle calmly led Michael (and others) down 78 flights of stairs and out onto the street. They were two blocks away when the tower collapsed. Despite the dense air and falling debris, they found their way together into a subway station where they were safe.
Michael emphasized that working with a guide dog is a team effort. Many people mistakenly think that it’s the dog doing all the work when, in fact, it’s his job to tell Roselle where he wants to go and her job to get him there. Roselle was Michael’s fifth guide dog, and though all of them had expertly guided him through many an actual normal day, it was Roselle who saved his life.
She died at the age of thirteen in the early summer of 2011. Here she is with her grateful person.