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July 2014: Hero Dogs

On the 4th July 1776 the Declaration of Independence was passed and the nation of the United States of America was formed.  As we all come together to celebrate this momentous day in American history, VetShopMax would like to take this opportunity to salute military dogs; and their heroic involvement in war since the American Revolution.

 

Throughout history dogs have been known to accompany their masters into battle.  Be it for companionship, protection against wild animals, hunting food, locating causalities on a battlefield or undertaking sentry duties, dogs of war have truly earned their stripes. Here are some amazing facts and feats on military war dogs:

  • During the American Revolution dogs were known to accompany their owners into battle.  Sweetlips, one of George Washington’s favourite dogs (he was rumoured to have had over 50 in his lifetime!) not only tagged along on his political trips but was right by George’s side on the battlefield.  
  • Although dogs have been associated with army and military upheavals for hundreds of years, it wasn’t until the 1940’s that American launched its official military dog training program.  Used as scouts, messengers and sentries, popular war dog breeds included German Shepherds and Doberman Pinschers and surprising breeds such Airedale Terriers and Schnauzers.
  • Did you know that Airedale Terrier’s were used by the British Army in World War 1?  Working 12 hours days, these gorgeous gallopers were employed to carry messages to and from the front lines.
  • The most famous war dog to emerge from World War 1 was Rin Tin Tin.  Allegedly rescued by an American soldier, Rin Tin Tin became famous for his silent film work and became a box office success; appearing in over 25 Hollywood films and gaining worldwide fame and acclaim.
  • Have you heard of Chips?  He was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart medals for bravery; and saw action in North Africa, Sicily, France and Germany; defending tanks, alerting those around him to impending attacks and famously attacking a pillbox of Italian soldiers until they were captured.  Unfortunately this magnificent mutt’s medals were revoked due to army policy preventing official commendation of animals.
  • In the Vietnam War, the American Army employed the use of ‘tunnel dogs’; military dogs who had been trained to detect and explore the tunnels used by the Viet Cong.
  • Gabe, a gorgeous Labrador used for sniffing out insurgent bombs, guns and ammunition, completed over 200 combat missions in Iraq!
  • Did you know that Explosives Detection Dogs are trained to alert their handlers on the scent of chemicals used in explosives?  With a superior sense of smell, explosive detection dogs have aided troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and continue to serve alongside American soldiers across the world.
  • More than 1000 military dogs have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since the beginning of hostilities and are looked after not only by their handlers, but by a special Veterinarian Corps charged with taking special care of their health needs.
  • Dogs have been fighting beside their human counterparts for the last 3000 years!  That’s right, dogs have been documented by the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Romans and Persian civilisations as loyal, war-faring participants.

From the team at VetShopMax, Happy 4th July!