Bretagne, a sagely old Golden Retriever who was one of the first responders tasked with searching for survivors in the rubble after 9/11, received a hero’s welcome when she arrived in New York to celebrate her 16th birthday.

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“Responding to the World Trade Center was our first deployment. We were there to try to find survivors,” said Bretagne’s handler Denise Corliss. “When our taskforce arrived in ground zero, I just couldn’t believe the magnitude of it. Then I looked down to her and she seemed stoked and ready to work.”

Bretagne, who retired in 2008, had tons of doggie surprises in store for her on her birthday, including a gourmet burger, the keys to the Hudson River dog park, and an awesome birthday party with plenty of adoring fans! “She is a 16-year-old now, but when you are around water with her, she acts like a young puppy,” said Corliss. 1 Hotel Central Park, which hosted the party, also donated $1,000 to Texas Task Force 1, which trains K-9 first responder dogs like Bretagne.

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Meet Bretagne, a 16-year-old search-and-rescue Golden Retriever who became a hero after 9/11

Image credits: Texas Task Force 1

14 years ago, she was deployed on her first mission – to find survivors after 9/11

Image credits: Denise Corliss

Bretagne even worked as a therapy dog – once, she even disobeyed her handler’s orders and comforted a distressed firefighter at ground zero

Image credits: Denise Corliss

Now, to honour this hero dog, they threw her an epic “sweet 16” party with lots of presents…

…a walk in the park full of fountains…

…and, instead of a key to the city, a bone for the dog park!

A sweet sixteen fit for a true hero!

Image credits: Bark Post

“Bretagne and I have a really strong bond. A lot of dog handlers say you get that one dog, and I’ve had several K9 partners, but Bretagne is that one dog for me,” said Denise Corliss, her handler

Image credits: F. Carter Smith

Here’s a video about Bretagne’s special day