2006_12_tributectrpuppy.jpgDear Santa,

Even though it's of questionable taste, can you please leave a really adorable September 11 search-and-rescue dog plush in the stocking? He is just $11.95 and wears a t-shirt that says "Tribute WTC 9/11/Puppy to Person History" with what the NY Times calls "two offset squares symbolizing the voids left by the twin towers." But he does not come with the booties the search-and-rescue dogs wore to protect their paws from the burning remains - can an elf make a pair for our puppy?

Thank you!

Love, Gothamist

Possibly the most insane - and most insanely adorable - gift that can be found at the World Trade Center Tribute Center downtown is this puppy plush. The NY Times' David Dunlap delves into the stuffed animal merchandising of September 11.

Lynn Tierney, the president of the center, witnessed those desperate days after the attack firsthand as a deputy fire commissioner. She makes no apology for casting them in terms a child might understand.

“Those of us who were there understand the impact that the presence of these dogs had,” she said. “Their job is noble and necessary. Their handlers are extraordinary people. This is a way of paying tribute to them...

“Grandparents and parents would come up to us afterwards,” she said, “and say: ‘We’re so moved. Is there anything here that would help me start a dialogue with my children or grandchildren about 9/11?’ ”

The puppies were a response to that demand, she said, and arrived about two weeks ago. “They’re really popular,” Ms. Tierney said. “People recognize immediately that we’re paying homage to a critical part of the story.”

The money from merchandise sold at the Tribute Center goes towards its operating costs.

Tribute WTC Visitor Center is at 120 Liberty Street. Its mission: "Tribute WTC Visitor Center offers a place where members of the September 11th community can connect with the thousands of visitors who come to Ground Zero daily." And September 11 saw the largest number of search dogs ever deployed in U.S. history. Here are some photographs of search dogs, plus a yearbook. So far, it doesn't seem like dogs have exhibited signs of WTC illness that humans have.

Photograph by Tony Cenicola for the NY Times