Some of our customers are Veteran Military-Working-Dog Handlers and I have to say they are the most proud dog owners I’ve ever met.
Most of their dogs were trained to sniff out the enemy, sense an ambush or locate explosive devices. Their dogs burrowed through trenches to deliver medical supplies in World War I. They tracked enemy fighters in the Vietnamese foothills. Their amazing senses of sight, sound and smell often saved their handlers live as well as the lives of fellow soldiers in modern war times. These dogs were more than man’s best friend so its understandable how a proud Veteran can still remember his dog’s Preston Brand number or “serial number”.
Dogs have been a part of military life for as long as there have been armies. They’ve served different roles like to protect or attack, others to detect and track, for logistics and communication or even as mascots and medical research. It is well documented that war dogs were used by early civilizations like the Egyptians, Greeks, Persians, Sarmatians and Romans. The first official use of dogs for military purposes in the United States was during the Seminole Wars. The American Pit Bull Terrier was used in the American Civil War to protect and send messages.
The roles of the modern war dog remain extremely important though today they are rarely used in front-line formations. As of 2011, approximately 600 U.S. Military dogs were actively participating in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It is estimated that approximately 5000 dogs where used during the course of the Vietnam war yet only about 200 dogs exited Vietnam during the 10-year period. 281 dogs were officially listed as killed in action, some remained in the Pacific, and some returned to the United States. None returned to civilian life. Most where euthanize and the others where turned over to the South Vietnamese Army.
Thankfully change has come in legislation for the benefit of our forgotten war heroes. Prior to 2000, older war dogs were required to be euthanize. Thanks to a new law, retired military dogs may now be adopted. There are numerous memorials dedicated to the recognition and appreciation to our war dog heroes, including March Field Air Museum in Riverside, California; the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia; at the Naval Facility, Guam, with replicas at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine in Knoxville; the Alfred M. Gray Marine Corps Research Center in Quantico, Virginia; and the Alabama War Dogs Memorial at the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile, Alabama.
All of us at HighClass K9 respect, admire, appreciate and value our troops, our Veterans and the War-Dogs that served with them in the thick of it all. A military dog, like a military man, is one build of valor, courage, determination, commitment and pride. Some may be gone but will not be forgotten.