Riley, the Golden Retriever whose calm demeanor while being ferried across the ruins of the World Trade Center epitomized the heroism of search-and-rescue (SAR) dogs, died on February 26. He was 13.
His owner and handler, Chris Selfridge, says that while Riley had aced a physical this past December, a mass was found in his abdomen on February 20. Surgery to remove the mass took place on February 24, but Riley died two days later.
Chris and I exchanged email last fall when I was writing my book about Golden Retrievers and wanted to feature Riley as a representative of the breed. At that point, Riley was still enjoying chasing Frisbees and had helped to welcome a new puppy into the family. He clearly was enjoying his retirement from SAR work -- and, as seen in the video below, which was shot two days after the twin towers collapsed, few dogs have done more to earn that retirement.