Today is September 11th and it is a day in United States' history that will never be forgotten. For me, this day is forever memorialized not only as a day of tragedy and loss, but also a beacon of hope in the form of a four legged companion.
I will never forget that warm summer evening in June 2006, when a tiny twelve week old black Labrador puppy was placed in my arms. Her name was Ggoody. Her future held high hopes, more than just digging holes in the backyard and chewing holes in tennis shoes. She was destined to be an explosive detection dog for the Department of Homeland Security. That's a lot of pressure to put on one tiny pup! However, what made her even more remarkable was her name. Ggoody was named after Harry Goody III, one of the 2, 996 people who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.
A year had passed with the normal ups and downs that accompany raising a puppy. However, what amazed me the most when it came time for Ggoody's formal recall date was how mature she had become. No longer was she a gangly puppy trying to figure out her place in life, but in fact a mature, confident dog with the ability to live up to and honor her namesake, just as she was bred to do.
I believe that was the true power of the Puppy Program. In a way, it's a bit poetic (albeit tragic) that the very dogs bred to protect our nation were named after people who lost their lives in the very event these dogs now aim to prevent. I am so honored to have had the opportunity to raise two of these incredible dogs, who have profoundly changed my life for the better and have truly honored their namesakes.
Although Ggoody was released from the program due to medical reasons, Llarson (my second puppy to raise) did graduate from the program as an explosive detection dog. It's hard for me to put into words how proud I was when I heard the news of Llarson becoming a detection dog because it was a feeling greater than pride. It may seem a bit ridiculous from the outside perspective that this amount of emotion can be evoked by a dog, but I know my fellow "puppy walkers" understand. The whirling dervish of a puppy that I raised would soon be protecting our county just as his namesake, Scott A. Larsen, had done as a firefighter during the 9/11 attacks.
Today I am writing this post in memory of Harry Goody III and Scott A. Larsen. You will always be remembered. #neverforget #honor911