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One FDNY mascot — who helped a Manhattan firehouse get through the years following Sept. 11 — has left her mark in the heart of an entire community.
Twenty, a Dalmatian who was donated to Ladder 20 as a puppy, died on Tuesday, FDNY Lieutenant Gary Iorio from Ladder 20 announced via Facebook.
Ladder 20 lost seven of its members on the 35th floor of the North Tower on Sept. 11 and, according to Iorio, in the days after, the firehouse received condolences from all around the world.
On one of those days, two sheriffs from Rochester showed up at the firehouse located on 253 Lafayette St. with a Dalmatian puppy. From then, Twenty not only became the firehouse’s mascot but also the team’s companion helping build the morale throughout the years.
“I can’t say enough about what she did to help us. She went on all the runs, she’d jump in the truck, stick her head out the window and bark. She became a local celebrity,” Iorio wrote in the Jan. 5 post. “Today, Twenty has taken her final run to Heaven. Rest in peace, man’s best friend.”
Condolences and words of love poured in after the firehouse announced Twenty’s passing, with the Facebook post garnering over 60,000 likes, over 24,000 shared and more than 3,000 comments.
The love was not only felt on the web, as the local community surrounding the firehouse also expressed their sadness and the love they had for the lovable and friendly pup.
Michele Bajraktari, who works at Blue Water Flowers right next door to the firehouse, remembers Twenty as a puppy and would see her roaming Lafayette Street almost every day.
She said she was shocked when she heard of Twenty’s death because she saw her earlier in the day on Jan. 5. She added she will miss seeing her sniffing around, sometimes even walking into the flower shop.
“It’s going to be a little weird,” Bajraktari said. “She had her own personality.”
Bajraktari added that people new to the neighborhood would sometimes think Twenty was lost because she would roam around.
Lucy Heisler, who works at the clothing store Matta next door, grew up nearby on Prince Street and saw Twenty at the firehouse almost every day. She knew Twenty had not being the best of health recently, but still was surprised to hear of her death.
“She was such a sweet girl and so cute,” Heisler said. “It’s so sad.”
For Carline Gouin, owner of Lilliput just a few doors down, Twenty was like part of her family. Both of Gouin’s grandchildren — who are now teenagers — used to pet and play with the dog when they were little.
“It’s very sad,” said Gouin, who knows her granddaughter will be distraught with the news. “Twenty was very friendly. Everyone in the neighborhood knew about her.”