Sunday, May 29, 2011

Heroic War Dogs- Archive Article from 2003/Leisure Life

The following article was written over 8 years ago. Since then many things have changed to include more of our war dog heroes that have been honored by the military agency for which they have served and allowing some to return home to retire and live civilian lives. Also, not included in this article are the countless numbers of stray dogs who have befriended and even saved many of our military personnel while on deployment. Some of these dogs have also returned to the States, to a heroes welcome!
I would love to hear personal stories from military personnel or their families who might have some experiences with militray dogs or strays who they befriended.

In honor of Memorial Day here is an archived article to remember those who have no voice, the hero dogs of wars gone by.

Heroic War Dogs

War is upon us, gaping through our windows, blaring on our radios and illuminated over our TV screens. We watch as our patriotic American troops fight to protect our Country. As a caretaker of animals it is only natural for my mind to wander to the animals that have also been deployed to serve our United States. Will these loyal creatures be honored for the duties that they provide, or will they be a mere commodity in this confusing struggle?
So what of our proud and gallant wartime service dogs, those many thousands of canine companions that have given their lives to protect our troops and ultimately our freedom?  These animals have extreme dedication to their masters and are specially trained human shields as well as very dangerous weapons, who also feel pain, joy and love.
They have been sent out to do a job, and could quite possibly lose their lives performing such a duty. Man’s best friend is truly that, in a time of war.
Military working dogs of all breeds and sizes have been deployed to assist all branches of the military since World War I. The most popular of the breeds seemed to be the German Shepard and the Doberman Pincher, followed by the Labrador retriever.
In World War II the first official account of America’s First War dog hero, Stubby, were kept. He was a Bull Terrier and served over eighteen months and in over seventeen battles on the Western Front. He originally hailed from New Haven CT and was even honored by President Woodrow Wilson upon his return from the War.
Dogs were tattooed, or “branded” in the left ear for easy identification. Their duties ranged from Scout Dogs, which were the eyes and ears of the unit, Combat Trackers, picking up scents and locating missing soldiers, Sentry Teams, walking the periphery of the camp and as Guards and Mine/Booby/ Tunnel Dogs, detecting these potential causality-seeking devices.
It is no wonder that there is a profound bond between human and animal during times of combat when these War Dogs helped prevent over ten thousand American causalities.
Records do not depict the countless canines used in all of our past military encounters but rough statistics kept during the Vietnam War show that a list of over 4,900 dogs went to combat from 1964 to 1975. Of those loyal best friends, only 204 actually exited Vietnam to return to the United States. Though none went to civilian life. The remainder of them were either euthanized, left on the streets somewhere in the Pacific or turned over to the South Vietnamese Army. The horror of knowing that mans truest and most loyal companion served his Country only to be classified as military equipment and declared “surplus armaments” is mortifiably a tragedy. These true canine Hero’s had no voice and their cries went unheard.
One can only hope that today, as our Country engages once again in combat that we honor and respect our Nation’s War Dogs and not leave them behind, let them suffer or pass them by as our Forgotten Heroes.


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