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November 15, 2013

Canine who found bodies in 9/11 aftermath buried

NORMAN —

The sky was unseasonably sunny for a brief window of time over the Pet Memorial Gardens in Norman, Oklahoma. 

Reba, the Golden Retriever service dog with resume highlights spanning from New York to California, was laid to rest on Nov. 14. 

Reba's owner, Craig Passow, murmured his thanks again and again as Reba's ashes, housed within a small black box, were lowered into the ground. 

At Passow's side, Charlotte Grove, a Facebook friend, was in attendance. She had never met Passow face to face before. She said she didn't want anyone to have to go through this alone. 

"We animal lovers have to stick together," Grove said. 

Being there during a time of need seems like the kind of sentiment Reba might have agreed with. 

Reba was trained as a cadaver dog when she was six-weeks old. At the age of 16 months, former Governor Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin called Passow to help out at ground zero in New York in 2001. Over 10 days, Reba recovered the remains of several 9/11 victims. Reba is one of about three dogs who served during the aftermath of 9/11. 

In March 2003, Reba received a call to go to California to help with the Laci Peterson case, searching the landfill for three days. 

According to Passow, these are just a few cases that Reba was involved in. 

Born on May 21, 2000 in Wausau, Wisconsin, Reba was given to Passow, who lived in Weston, Wisconsin at the time. She passed away on Nov. 7 at home. 

Reba and Craig moved to Oklahoma in 2004 and Reba retired in 2005. Passow said  Reba was a kind and very obedient dog, doing commands immediately. 

An alert had been sent to law enforcement and firefighters in surrounding areas, Passow said. However, the cemetery's parking remained void save for a two or three cars. Passow's Facebook wall shows posts inviting the public to honor a fallen canine hero. 

However, in her resting place, Reba is not alone. Another K-9 dog, Zhena, is buried just across from her grave. 

Passow said one of the reasons he chose Reba's resting place within the cemetery, was because he is comforted by the thought of the sun rising from the east, hovering over her during the day and then sinking into the west.

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