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Therapy dogs comfort the grieving at 9/11 ceremony

As mourners gathered to remember their loved ones, Copeland the labradoodle sidled up to person after person, changing their mood from sadness to gratitude.

Christine Miner with her golden retriever Memphis, left,

Christine Miner with her golden retriever Memphis, left, and Catherine Ricchetti with her dog Copeland. Memphis and Copeland are therapy dogs that comforted mourners who gathered at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum Tuesday to commemorate the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Photo Credit: Hope Animal Assisted Crisis Resp/Brian Flynn

Anna Favuzza sat at the 9/11 Memorial on Tuesday, remembering her deceased brother Bernard Favuzza, a broker at Cantor Fitzgerald.

The remains of Favuzza’s brother, who died in the World Trade Center attack, have not been recovered and identified, so the family has no grave or headstone to visit.

Instead, Favuzza visits the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, where a ceremony honoring the victims was held Tuesday. She considers it the closest place to visit her brother, who died at the age of 52. He was married with two daughters and a grandchild. Three more grandchildren have been born since his death.

Favuzza was alone at the ceremony. As she stared at the ground, a labradoodle trotted over to her.

"I just kept petting that dog,'' Favuzza, 60, of Ridgewood, Queens, said. “It was nice and very comforting.”

Such are the wonders a dog can inspire. Turns out, some 17 therapy dogs were working two-hour shifts at the ceremony, most of the time inside the Reflection Room, a room where loved ones can remember the people who died, therapy dog owner Catherine Ricchetti said.

"This is a brilliantly simple way to be very helpful,'' she said.

Ricchetti, of Averill Park, owns the labradoodle, named Copeland. She watched as Copeland sidled up to person after person, changing their mood from sadness to gratitude.

Inside the Reflection Room, one dog took its chew toy — a leather teddy bear —and tossed it in the air. It landed near a woman whose face was in her hands, she said.

The woman looked up and said, “Boy, did I need that.'' And she started petting the dog.

"It made the room lighter and sweeter,'' Richetti said.

— Maria Alvarez and Craig Schneider


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