COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The canines of Texas Task Force 1 are considered the special forces of dog search and rescue.
They are trained to go where no human rescue worker can enter safely.
"There's a lot of places we'll send dogs that we don't go into," said Bob Deeds, canine search specialist. "I'm just not as stable as they are."
One of the best was a golden retriever named "Bretagne" (Brittany) that started training for search and rescue at only eight weeks old. Deeds remembers his first assignment alongside his dog Kinsey -- Ground Zero on Sept. 11, 2001.
"We knew what to do," said Deeds. "We were trained. I didn't even realize how well we were trained until we actually started working. Then it's like, holy cow. My dog knows what she's doing, and I actually know what I'm doing."
Bretagne worked Ground Zero for 10 days searching for signs of life ... she and other rescue dogs spent hours crawling through mangled steel and concrete.
"My first initial thought was my dog's going to get hurt," said Deed. "That's what I thought right off the bat."
During Bretagne's grueling shifts surrounded by death and destruction... part of her service and that of other dogs included comforting first responders.
"I'd say go into the building over here and hide," said Deed. "I'm going to give you a toy. When my dog comes and barks at you, give 'em the toy. And we would do that for our dog and also for the firefighter. In fact, I always told people my dog was 25 percent search dog and 75 percent therapy dog."
Bretagne retired from service at age nine outliving all other 9/11 rescue dogs that worked Ground Zero. She died in 2016 and received a hero's funeral.
Today, a bronze statue stands guard at the Cypress Firehouse that Bretagne called home.
She’s there, standing at attention just like she did at Ground Zero.
Besides her work during 9/11, Bretagne's long list of deployments includes helping with search and rescue missions during hurricanes Rita, Ivan, and Katrina.