In the U.S. this will be televised tonight on the USA Network, beginning at 8 p.m. EST.
I doubt there will be a dry eye in the audience.
Here is the article which appeared in my morning newspaper:
February 11, 2002
Apollo, a 9-year-old German shepherd, isn't the kind of dog you'd expect at the Westminster dog show.
But when the country's most prestigious canine competition opens at Madison Square Garden tonight, Apollo will be there -- and he won't have to worry about winning. He's already done that.
The shepherd is among the search and rescue dogs chosen to be honored by the Westminster Kennel Club for recovery work at the World Trade Center site and at the Pentagon.
"Apollo was there within a half hour to an hour of the second collapse,” Lt. Daniel Donadio, head of the NYPD's Emergency Service Unit's canine team, said proudly in an interview last night. "Pete [Officer Peter Davis] and Apollo went right on the pile. Some rubble gave way under the dog ... and flames shot up around him.”
Unscathed and undaunted, Apollo kept on going, just as he and the 33 other dogs in the canine unit have continued their daily 12-hour shifts at the Trade Center site in an effort to recover remains.
Donadio said the dogs were instrumental in finding the bodies of two women yesterday.
No, the dogs can't compete with the perfectly primped toy poodles and longhaired dachshunds in the kennel competition, but, Donadio said, "They're not there to compete ... just to walk on the carpet and have Westminster pay tribute to them.
"They have to be the longest working, most hard-working dogs ever,” Donadio went on. "I like to call them ‘New York's Most Faithful.'”
For the kennel club, honoring these dogs will be a departure from the norm.
"The first thing we thought was, ‘How are we going to recognize these dogs?'” show chairman Thomas Bradley said. "We kind of mushed it around, and being here in New York, we thought this was the way to do it.
"This might also help take away criticism we occasionally get for being a beauty show, a Miss America for dogs,” he said. "We hope this will be an ongoing thing.”
Donadio plans to bring a few dogs and their handlers. The teams will be honored around 9 p.m. on the first day of the two-day show.
USA Network, which is televising the event and the ceremony, joined with the Westminster Kennel Club and the Pedigree company to contribute $275,000 to the National Association for Search and Rescue. Mike Tuttle, the association's president, might take as many as 11 dogs from all over the country to the Garden.
"I knew Westminster's background, and this is highly unusual for them to go away from their normal program,” he said. "It's such a prestigious organization, and we're so thrilled to be going.”
Tuttle, who works for the sheriff's department in San Bernadino, Calif., said the Sept. 11 attacks and the Oklahoma City bombing bring to the forefront the work of urban search and rescue dogs.
Donadio was looking forward to a chance to say thanks to everyone who supported Apollo and the other NYPD canines, who worked long hours despite hot paws and hunger.
"You should have seen the things that got sent to them. More biscuits and booties than they could ever use,” he said. "But we appreciated every one. It just goes to show you how much New Yorkers love their dogs.”