78 floors. 1,463 steps. That’s the vertical distance that Roselle led 30 people down the stairs of Tower 1 after the first plane crashed only 15 floors above them. Despite the initial booming explosion, the lurch of the 1,368-foot skyscraper, the smoke, panic, and burn victims – Roselle stays calm and collected for the hour-long descent – A true professional through and through, leading her group to safety. And, oh yeah, Roselle was a dog.
Roselle’s the hero guide dog’s backstory
Born in March 1998, Roselle was a very very very good girl, a yellow labrador, and a trained guide dog. After a year of training, being the guide dog for her blind human Michael Hingson for two years was very admirable and worthy of all the treats and head scritches in the world. Little did she know that at three and a half years old, she’d become one of the greatest American canine heroes of all time!
When the first plane hit their tower
On the morning of September 11th, 2001, Roselle was taking a nap under her human Michael Hingson’s desk. Hingson happened to work on the 78th floor of Tower 1 of the World Trade Center in New York City. Then at 8:46 a.m., American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the building, destroying floors 93 through 99. Shock and panic started to set in with the human workers on their floor. Not Roselle though. She just focused on her job: looking after and leading her human. With the elevators unsafe, Roselle was able to lead her human to stairwell B. Other humans saw Roselle’s calm confidence and also decided to follow her lead.
The Descent from chaos to safety
As they descended through smoke and panic, more humans joined their procession, reaching around 30 in total. It was said that Roselle only diverted from her mission to comfort a woman having a panic attack and also flirt and get a few pets from heroic human firefighters heading up the stairs. Once on the ground floor, they made it outside. But not safely outside. That’s when Tower 2 started to collapse. In spite of glass, metal, and other debris starting to rain down, Roselle still kept her cool. She then managed to get her group to the safety of a subway station. And when she got home later, she apparently acted like it wasn’t a big deal and went straight to play with her retired guide dog roommate!
The Legacy of Roselle – A true American canine hero
After that tragic day, Roselle’s human Michael Hingson, quit his job to work as the Public Affairs Director for the Guide Dogs for the Blind. The paid made many appearances on news and talk shows, such as Regis and Kelly and Larry King Live. In 2004, Roselle was sadly diagnosed with an immune condition, which led to her retirement in March 2007. She lived her retirement with Hingson until passing away from a stomach ulcer in June 2011.
Roselle was awarded a Dickin Medal in March 2002, which is considered the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross, along with other awards and forms of recognition. Hingson also wrote a book about her titled The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero and founded the Roselle’s Dream Foundation, which raises funds to help vision-impaired humans.
For another canine legend, check out the story of Proteo the heroic rescue dog that passed away after saving victims from the Turkey earthquake.