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Cody Bear and New York City's Faithful
Rescue dog affected by September 11 trauma
Edward R. Winstead

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Police in New York City are known as New York's Finest; firefighters are New York's Bravest; and dogs like Cody Bear are New York's Faithful. Cody, a four-year-old golden retriever, and his handler, Paul Morgan, spent four hours searching for victims at the World Trade Centers the day after the September 11 attacks. Last month, at a ceremony honoring the city's canine heroes, Cody was decorated with a medal that reads: “New York's Faithful.”

Cody and Paul. Photo by Jim Peppler.
Cody and Paul.

Cody is now known around the world. Morgan wrote an account of their visit to the disaster site, which was posted on the Internet and has, so far, elicited 500 emails from as far away as Poland. The account begins, “My buddy, Hal Wilson, and I went into the 'pile' at the World Trade Center with our search dogs, Cody and Sue, at 11 AM on Wednesday, September 12th, 2001. You wouldn't believe the teamwork and the silence with hundreds of firefighters stumbling through the mess.”

Morgan describes the four hours he and Cody spent searching the wreckage alongside a team of 18 firefighters. A former member of the US Army Special Forces, The Green Berets, Morgan has handled search-and-rescue dogs since 1957 in the military and in civilian life. He is the author of two books, including K-9 Soldiers: Viet Nam and After.

Now 65 and retired, Morgan takes Cody to visit residents of nursing homes and hospitals. They also go to schools to educate children about search-and-rescue dogs. Morgan assures children that if they are lost, they will be found. During a typical demonstration, a child leaves the group and hides. Cody then comes on the scene, picks up the child's scent, and finds the student—always in a matter of minutes.

GNN recently contacted Morgan in Florida, where he, his wife, and Cody spend winters. Asked what life has been like for him and Cody since September 12, Morgan responded:

“These days Cody sleeps a lot and seems to be moody. I have noticed a change in him since September 12. He recognizes that I'm more serious, and when I put his harness on now, he doesn't think this is going to be a romp in the woods. He's excited about going places, but at the nursing home yesterday when he met someone who was sleeping or motionless, he would sit down and look at me. This is what he does when he comes upon a dead person.

“Dogs have a reverence for death. Before September 11, whenever we did one of these demonstration events at the elementary schools, the kids would squeal. We'd find people and play hide and seek, and it was a big game. Now his behavior probably reflects my dryness, my depression. This is one thing I just can't get rid of.

“He's watching me more now. He watches me all the time. Of course the dog and the handler reflect each other's personalities. I guess he's afraid something might happen to us. He may not be depressed, but he has to be glued to me all the time; he has to have eye contact.

“At the disaster site, I could tell that Cody gave comfort to the firefighters. They played with him some as we went in. Cody got the 'silent valor' award from the New York Police Department. It's a pretty medal with a German Shepard on it and says 'New York's Faithful Cody Bear.' He also got one from the Merrick Long Island school district.

“After being on the site for four hours, we were filthy and exhausted. I smelled bad, and he smelled bad. To clean him up, I used a shampoo that my wife buys for people with curly fine hair because he has fine hair. I gave him a bath outside and he still smelled. Three baths, three days in a row.

“I have a good, long history working with these dogs, about 54 years. I've had seventeen dogs in my career. Cody is the eighteenth, and I knew we would work well together from the start. My dogs all had the second name Bear. Suzie Bear and Polar Bear were dogs I worked with in Viet Nam. I had one named Teddy Bear when I was in Germany.

“Those of us in the military were always very aware of the sacrifices these dogs make, and we like to give credit for all the work that these dogs do. I don't mind talking about these guys. It's good for me to talk about them. You don't even have to mention my name as long as the dog gets recognized.

“Success in search-and-rescue is not because of the man, and not because of the dog—it's because of the team. Cody Bear and I make a pretty good team. Right now Cody's rubbing up next to me and looking at me. He wants to go for a walk. We take a lot of walks on the beach down here in Florida. He loves going to the beach to chase tennis balls.”

See Morgan's account of September 12 at “The Scoop,” the official newspaper of

See related GNN article
»Mapping the Dog

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