One of 9/11’s unsung heroes is living right here in Algonquin. And although he probably cannot remember the tragic details of that day, he certainly made a lasting impact.
Sir “Hooch” Lionheart, the dog of Carl and Agnes Carlson of Algonquin, was a heroic search-and-rescue dog at the Twin Towers 10 years ago.
Although Hooch has some health issues today, he is still alive and is one of the remaining few rescue dogs from that historic event. Carlson said that while Hooch has respiratory problems, tumors and skin growths, he is proud his dog has made it this far.
Ringing in at 125 pounds, Hooch is a 12-year-old massive breed pit bull. When Carlson bought Hooch, he cost $7,500 and was named after the canine character in the Tom Hanks movie Turner and Hooch.
Carlson spent time training Hooch as a puppy to respond to a child’s voice on a voice recorder. He would hide the recorder under boxes and have Hooch track it down. After Sept. 11, Carlson had a friend who worked for a fire department on the East Coast ask if they could use Hooch as a search-and-rescue dog at the World Trade Center wreckage.
It’s clear that Carlson is proud of his dog, but he is bothered that Hooch has never been formally recognized as a 9/11 rescue dog. He said he wrote the mayor of New York, the president of the United States and the governor of New York to try to get the official recognitions that they were handing out to the other dogs.
Carlson said that many of the dogs used at the wreckage were privately owned and if they weren’t registered with the official rescue dog association, they didn’t receive any accolades.
“He’s having major problems now, he’s 12,” Carlson said. “After a while he’s not going to be around and I’d like to have something from New York to say that ‘He did this, and thank you.’ ”
Watch the short video to hear about Hooch’s 9/11 journey.