Memorial Day For Man’s Best Friend

Did you know that thousands of dogs have served alongside our country’s military forces for many, many years? The United States began training canines for combat not long after the Attack on Pearl Harbor. Dogs for Defense, a civilian volunteer group which was later officially recognized by the military, established a reception and training center in Fort Royal, Virginia.

Red Cross dogs

photoOver ten thousand dogs from the US and thousands more Red Cross dogs from different nations were in action during World War II. Dogs in battle continued to serve through the Vietnam War, and at the end of the conflict, our military left in Vietnam about 2,800 of the 3,000 canines that served.

Prior to being deployed overseas, dogs were stationed in army camps and underwent an intensive 12-week training period, often as patrol and sentry “soldiers”. It has been found that the best breeds for war dogs are German shepherds, Belgian shepherds, Airedales, Rottweilers, Dobermans, giant schnauzers, and collies.

Dogs have been used in battles since the beginning of time, with Assyrian temple carvings showing great dogs in combat. Canines were also present at fights in the Middle Ages as well as the Siege of Corinth.

In modern times, France trained dogs to search for injured men during World War I, and soon other countries followed suit. The British used dogs as messengers while the Italians had them deliver food to mountainous areas. By 1915, the Germans’ 6,000 dogs had rescued over 4,000 wounded men. Between 1914 and 1918, more than 7,000 canines were killed in action.

Deployed dogs

Currently, there are dogs serving in the War in Iraq, with several in the Gulf assisting American and British soldiers. Most are guard dogs that help protect the British military, though they may also be used to guard Iraqi prisoners of war. Other canines are tasked to look for bombs and weapons.

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