The dog in the above photo was already recognized as a hero, note her service medals. Diesel had been serving on the Paris police force for seven years. She was a respected colleague, as many of her fellow officers noted.
Her job was to use her amazing sense of smell to help her fellow (human) officers navigate threatening situations and avoid explosives and other booby traps. It is, of course, a very dangerous job. And like so many dogs that have come before her, Diesel often walked calmly into danger to protect her human pack members. On November 18, 2015, th she would make the ultimate sacrifice for them.
Diesel was a Belgian Shepherd. Her job that morning was to assist in the Saint-Denis siege, where police officers had surrounded a series of apartments in which they believed the mastermind of the Paris massacres, Abdelhamid Abaoud, was hiding with his conspirators.
Police and secret service agents were preparing to enter the flats, but needed to ensure that the area had not been rigged with explosives before continuing. That’s where Diesel came in. As she had for the last seven years prior, she assisted the anti-terror unit by being their first line of furry defense. The photograph below shows Diesel being led toward the apartment block moments before one of the terrorists intervened.
It did not appear that the area offered any inanimate threat. Unfortunately, it offered a different type of threat: One of Abaoud’s associates, a woman believed to be a relative or bride, exited the apartments and detonated a suicide vest she had donned to help to prevent the police from entering. Diesel was killed instantly.
France—and the rest of the world—have mourned Diesel’s passing openly, with many taking to social media with the hashtag #JeSuisChien, which means “I am a dog,” in French. It is a nod to the sentiment “Je suis Charlie” after the Charlie Hebdo killings, and a way to honor Diesel’s sacrifice.
— Kay Burley (@KayBurley) November 18, 2015
And many dog owners around the world posted pictures of their own four-legged family members to show their appreciation for Diesel’s bravery.
— JandB (@MahaloKona) November 18, 2015
Of course, many others have been harmed and killed in the Paris attacks. It is not that Diesel’s life is more important. It is perhaps the fact that her life and death serve as a symbol, a symbol of what terrorism seeks to accomplish. Diesel was a true innocent, with true courage. Her one thought was to aid her friends, and to make them proud of her; to share the skill nature had given her with her powerful nose, and to go home to her kennel at the end of the day.
Her innocence is what terrorism threatens, and her selfless courage is the type of strength we will all need to in order to combat it. Instead of breeding terror, we should ensure that terrorism breeds the opposite: strength, cooperation, a sense of community, and the desire to protect and serve our fellow man (and our fellow beasts).
— Chloé (@chloe_mayyy) November 18, 2015