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November 11, 2011 at 10:24 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

In Honor of Veterans Day - War Dogs

By Victoria Swanson More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Paws & Awws Blog Series

Thank you to all the military men and women that serve our Country and protect our Freedom! I personally have family members currently serving in our military and am so proud to be a part of a military family!

In honor of Veteran's Day, I'd like to talk about some little known veterans, the War Dogs that have served in our military!

War Dog Background

Dogs have been serving alongside military men and women for thousands of years. The Egyptians, Greeks, Persians and Sarmations were common users of War Dogs. Romans were known to use Bullmastiff and Molosser, the Irish used the Irish Wolfhound, the German's use German Shepherds and Doberman Pinchers and the list goes on.

The United States officially used dogs for military purposes during the Seminole Wars. During the American Civil War, the American Pit Bull Terrier was the dog of choice to protect and route messages. During World War I it was common to have one as a Mascot serving our military.

However, German and Belgian Shepherds, Doberman Pinchers, Rottweilers are all common breeds used by our military now.

Although War Dogs were originally used in the front lines of combat, that isn't the case anymore. It is very rare for a dog to be used in the front lines due to the advanced technology of military weapons.

War Dog Function

In the beginning, War Dogs wore body armor in combat. Protected with spikes and full body armor, they were sent into battle on the front lines. In many wars, it was a common practice to have 500 - 1,000 dogs armored and ready to go to war on the front lines! Although that practice isn't performed any more, War Dogs still offer other important functions to the military.

  • Medical Aid
  • Messengers
  • Detection (Bomb and Mine Searching)
  • Tracking (Enemy and Fugitives)
  • Intimidation
  • Scout (locating booby traps and concealed enemies)
  • Guard/Protect
  • Military Mascot

Side Note on Military Medical Experimentation: Many dogs were used for medical experimentation during the World War II which allowed doctors to test medicine. Although the practice came under scrutiny, the US Government regarded these dogs as heroes and even honored them to help ease the public's outcry on this type of service. The scrutiny helped launch the Laboratory Animal Welfare Act in 1966.

A Story of A Special War Dog - Sergeant Stubby (picture of Stubby above!)

First, I want to honor this Pit Bull that served in World War I and is the only dog to ever be promoted to Sergeant through combat! Private Conroy found a Pit Bull puppy during training on the fields of Yale University in 1917.

He named him Stubby.

Stubby became the mascot of the 102nd Infantry, 26th Yankee Division. Stubby learned bugle calls, drills, and even to salute (using his right paw over his right eyebrow, no kidding!). Even though animals were forbidden on base, Stubby earned a reputation for his effect on morale and was therefore, allowed to stay.

The division shipped out to France and Private Conroy smuggled Stubby onboard. Private Conroy's division was heading to battle in the front lines in France. Stubby was given special permission to accompany his division as a mascot. What 102nd Infantry didn't know was Stubby would save many of them from injury. Stubby suffered injury from gas exposure and was taken to a hospital and was soon healthy again. Because the injury left Stubby extremely sensitive to any amounts of gas, he was able to run through the trenches barking and biting at the soldiers who were attacked by gas in an early morning attack and were asleep.

Stubby alarmed them and woke them saving them from the danger of the gas.

Stubby had a knack for finding wounded men between the trenches, he would bark until paramedics arrived to save the soldier. Stubby even caught an enemy spy a German soldier was mapping out the layout of the trenches. When Stubby spotted him, he attacked him and held him to the ground until American soldiers came to capture him.

This was the event that brought Stubby to earn the promotion of Sergeant of the 102nd Infantry.

When Stubby was seriously injured during a grenade attack and after his recovery, he moved around the hospital visiting many wounded soldiers boosting their spirits and morale! He even served as a Therapy Dog!

Stubby served in 17 battles. Stubby was honored by Presidents Wilson, Harding and Coolidge. He was awarded many medals for his heroism and participation in protecting our American soldiers.; Stubby retired with Private Conroy and later became a mascot of Georgetown during Conroy's studies there. He died in 1926.

Honoring the War Dog

Traditionally, though US War Dogs were returned home after the war, they had no homes to go to and were generally euthanized.

However, due to lobbying efforts of the Vietnam War Dog handlers, Congress approved a bill allowing veteran US War Dogs to be adopted after they retire from their military service. President Clinton signed a law in 2000 that allowed these dogs to be adopted.

Thanks to the new law, no War Dog is left behind.

My heart goes out to all the War Dog's that have given their life to protect our Freedom.

God bless America and our veterans, including our American War Dogs!


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