Golden retriever Bretagne saw a lot in her life.

The Texas-based dog who died in 2016 performed search and rescue missions in the rubble of the 9/11 terror attacks and several major natural disasters. While she died in 2016, her legacy will carry on with a new bronze statue that was erected amid the destruction from Hurricane Harvey in Cypress recently.

On the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, hundreds gathered at the intersection of Mason Road and Cypresswood Drive in Cypress, which was the hometown of Bretagne (pronounced Brittany), for a ceremony honoring the dog's efforts.

"Bretagne was the last surviving 9/11 search and rescue dog," said Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department Chief Joe Davis. "She lived for 16 years. If you go and search her name on YouTube, you can see that New York City threw a party for her years ago."

The golden retriever's first job as a young animal was to search for survivors amongst the rubble of the World Trade Center. Through the years she worked with various agencies, including FEMA and College Station-based Texas Task Force-1, putting her nose to work in finding victims of hurricanes Rita, Katrina and Ivan. Eventually, the Cy-Fair VFD accepted her as a part of their agency as an official rescue animal. She was used in searches for missing persons and lost children and often deployed to work with police officers. Once Bretagne became gray in the muzzle, she spent her last years of life as a therapy dog at a Cypress elementary school.

Her handler was current Cypress firefighter Denise Corliss, who has privately trained several search and rescue dogs over the years.

"Over the years Bretagne has done hurricane rescue and rescued quite a few people," Davis said.

At one point in Bretagne's career, she made a trip to College Station and the George Bush Presidential Library & Museum to meet former president George H.W. Bush.

"Most people who meet the president spend only five or 10 minutes with him, but Bretagne kept President Bush there for about 45 minutes," Davis said.

The former president petted Bretagne during the visit and asked Corliss questions about the dog.

After Bretagne died in 2016, Cypress firefighters and other Bretagne lovers knew they wanted to do something special to honor her memory. A sculptor from Utah was called upon and a bronze statue was commissioned. The creation of the artwork was paid for by charitable donations from the community. Despite the city of Cypress having experienced damage in Harvey's wake, Bretagne's likeness now stands proudly at the entrance of town.

"My wife and I feel strongly about the job that Bretagne and [Corliss] did," Davis said. "Not just for what they did for the state of Texas, but all over the nation."

Corliss declined to comment, just stating that she has refrained from giving interviews since her partner's death, and that it's good to let others tell the story of Bretagne.

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