On Sept. 11, 2001, Omar Eduardo Rivera, a blind computer technician, was working on the 71st floor of the World Trade Center with his guide dog, Dorado. When the hijacked plane hit the tower, Rivera knew it would take him a long time to evacuate the building, but he wanted his Labrador retriever to have a chance to get out so he unclipped his leash in the crowded stairwell. “I thought I was lost forever — the noise and the heat were terrifying — but I had to give Dorado the chance of escape. So I unclipped his leash, ruffled his head, gave him a nudge and ordered Dorado to go,” Rivera said.
Dorado was swept downstairs by the mass of evacuating people, but a few minutes later Rivera felt the dog nuzzling his legs — Dorado had come right back to his side. Dorado and a co-worker then helped Rivera climb down 70 flights of stairs, which took nearly an hour. Soon after they escaped the tower, the building collapsed, and Rivera says he owes his life to his faithful dog.