Not All Heroes Are People

The Truth About Daisy the Dog on 9/11

Did a brave guide dog named Daisy lead her blind master, James Crane, and over 900 other people out of the burning World Trade Center after the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001?

Canine Analysis

I have not been able to locate a single published news story mentioning a World Trade Center survivor named James Crane. Although there were indeed many canine heroes who participated in rescue operations at Ground Zero after the September 11 terrorist attack, there is no golden retriever named Daisy listed among them.

In all the years since the twin towers collapsed, no evidence has emerged to corroborate this inspiring but apocryphal tale.

In point of fact, the text contains glaring factual errors. The story states that Daisy found James Crane's boss on the 112th floor of Tower One. But neither of the World Trade Center towers exceeded 110 stories. An early variant purports to have been "copied from the New York Times, 9-19-01," but no such article appeared in the Times on that or any other date. We are also told that Mayor Rudy Giuliani awarded Daisy a "Canine Medal of Honor of New York," but there is no record of any such medal being given.

True Golden Retriever Rescuers

There were, however, at least two real-life examples of guide dogs escorting their blind owners out of the burning twin towers to safety. Roselle, a Labrador retriever, led Michael Hingson down from the 78th floor of the north tower and to the home of a friend several blocks away.

Dorado, also a Labrador, guided Omar Rivera down 70 flights of stairs, an ordeal that lasted over an hour but ended with both man and dog escaping a safe distance from the towers when they collapsed.

Here's a sample of this email hoax circulating since October 2001. 

NOT ALL HEROES ARE PEOPLE

James Crane worked on the 101st floor of Tower 1 of the World Trade Center. He is blind so he has a golden retriever named Daisy. After the plane hit 20 stories below, James knew that he was doomed, so he let Daisy go out of as an act of love. With tears in her eyes she darted away into the darkened hallway. Choking on the fumes of the jet fuel and the smoke, James was just waiting to die. About 30 minutes later, Daisy came back along with James' boss, who Daisy happened to pick up on floor 112.

On her first run of the building, she lead James, James' boss, and about 300 more people out of the doomed building. But she wasn't through yet; she knew there were others who were trapped. Against James' wishes, she ran back in the building.

On her second run, she saved 392 lives. Again she went back in. During this run, the building collapsed. James heard this and fell on his knees into tears. Against all odds, Daisy made it out alive, but this time she was carried by a firefighter. "She lead us right to the people before she got injured," the fireman explained.

Her final run saved another 273 lives. She suffered acute smoke inhalation, severe burns on all four paws and a broken leg, but she saved 967 lives. The next week, Mayor Guiliani rewarded Daisy with the Canine medal of Honor of New York. Daisy is the first civilian canine to win such an honor.

The New York Times;  9-19-01

Index of September 11 Rumors

Sources and further reading:

The Path to Safety
Guide Dog News, Fall 2001

Faithful Dog Leads Blind Man 70 Floors Down WTC
DogsInThe News.com,  September 14, 2001

Dog Heroes of 9/11
DogChannel.com, June 29, 2006

The World Trade Center's Heroic Rescue Dogs
DogsInTheNews.com, September 15, 2001

Databank: World Trade Center
PBS Online