Remembering the Four-Legged Fighters
This Memorial Day, we honor those who have given their lives for our freedoms: Heroes who have fought in battle, crossed oceans, respected and raised our flag until their death. We also honor the four-legged heroes who died.
While there is a K-9 Veteran’s Day, we often forget to honor the lost lives of the furry soldiers who dedicated their days to serving and protecting.
History of the War Dog
March 13, 1942 was marked in history as the private organization ‘Dogs For Defense’ was established. Over a million dogs had previously been an unofficial presence in WWI, but the U.S Military’s War Dog ‘K-9 Corps’ Program granted the animals the respect they deserved; it also allowed to recruit and grow the division with the help of the American Kennel Club.
The public was asked to volunteer specific breeds under the age of 5 if they were physically fit and showed ‘watchdog’ personality traits. While there was a large source of animals bred for the military, most war dogs were originally family pets sent into battle. 18,000 of the 20,000 war dogs in WWII were originally ‘the dog next door.’
“Members of the K-9 Corps were trained for a total of 8 to 12 weeks. After basic obedience training, they were sent through one of four specialized programs to prepare them for work as sentry dogs, scout or patrol dogs, messenger dogs or mine-detection dogs. In active combat duty, scout dogs proved especially essential by alerting patrols to the approach of the enemy and preventing surprise attacks.” Read more about the history of war dogs here.
A Few Breeds of Our Military
The Doberman Pinscher Club of America quickly joined in the movement. It didn’t take long for Dobermans to become the face of the Marine War Dog. The Marines understood the dogs’ value and respected the animals by giving them the starting ranking of privates.
Arguably the original dog of battle, prior to the Industrial Revolution this breed was known to suit up in full armor and spiked collars – as it was trained to kill.
Most commonly utilized in ‘Combat Stress Control Units” today, these emotionally-attached animals play a huge role in finding wounded and tracking missing soldiers. They never leave the side of their unit.
The breed that almost everyone recognizes as a partner to the military, German Shepherds have played every role from tracking soldiers to carrying messages in battle. Over 600 units currently are made up of solely German Shepherds.
These pups have noses like no other, and they use them to sniff out enemy soldiers, weapons, drugs, bombs, and other threats. They can track just about anything, too.
Their bite may be scarier than their bark, but rottweilers are also loyal and smart. Their dark coloring also allows them to work at night undetected.
This Memorial Day, remember to pause and thank all who gave their lives – including the furriest heroes.