Service dogs played a vital role in war effort and continue to impact veterans today

November 11th is a special day when we take pause and remember all those who served their country. Some of the unsung heroes include the thousands of service dogs who worked tirelessly alongside the soldiers as they battled for freedom.

During the First World War, service dogs contributed to the war effort in so many ways. These courageous canines carried first aid supplies to the wounded, delivered messages between the lines, served as watchdogs for the men in the trenches, and tracked enemy soldiers. They also transported equipment and supplies. Many of the new recruits were family pets, while others came from breeders, trainers and police forces.

During World War II, the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps began the first war dog training for American forces, training close to 10,000 dogs for the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. Seven War Dog platoons served in Europe and eight in the Pacific.

Because of their superior sense of smell and trainability, some of the more common breeds that excelled at this work included the German Shepherd and the Labrador Retriever. But it was the Doberman Pinscher that became one of the most popular working dogs for the troops, and eventually was made the official mascot of the United States Marines.

Soldier and dog

The War Dog Memorial on Guam, a life-sized bronze and granite statue of Kurt, a Doberman who saved the lives of 250 Marines by warning them of approaching Japanese troops, displays the names of 25 Dobermans who gave their lives.

Today, dogs continue to serve in the armed forces in a variety of ways such as bomb detection, but they have also taken on a new role for many North American veterans, offering comfort and companionship to soldiers experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day, when you are remembering the men and women who fought for our freedom, please take a moment and remember the devoted service dogs who served so bravely at their side.

Top Photo: Dog-handler reading a message brought by a messenger dog, in France, during World War I. Photo by Tom Aitken. Source: http://digital.nls.uk/74549024

Bottom Photo: 061027-N-9662L-048 Santa Rita, Guam (Oct. 27, 2006) – Petty Officer 2nd Class Blake Soller, a Military Working Dog (MWD) handler pets the head of his MWD Rico, at the War Dog Cemetery located on Naval Base Guam. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class John F. Looney. Source:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_War_Dog_Cemetery

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