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Thursday, May 30, 2013

War Dogs


Since Memorial day was last weekend I thought I would take a moment to mention those few unsung heroes who rarely get featured but who do so much for us. They’re called War Dogs. Dogs used in warfare have a very long history. They were used by Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, and many other nations as far back as 600 BC.
Many are trained in combat, scouts, sentries, guards, and trackers. Their uses are as varied and as heroic as they men who train them. Some of our greatest soldiers are cute, furry creatures who turned out to be man’s best friend. And we've used war dogs since the Revolutionary war. Many of them became military dogs quite by accident. Here are some of the greatest heroic wardogs in American history.
From Rags to Riches:

James Donovan an American AWOL WWI soldier in Paris stumbled upon an adorable Boston Terrier and when he was confronted by the military police he BSed his way back into his unit by telling them that he’d been searching for the unit’s mascot who ran away. Rags he named the dog. Well the story worked and Rags officially became the unit’s mascot.
When Donovan transferred to the frontline, he didn’t want to risk Rags’ life, so he left the little guy behind. The dog missed his new owner so much he tracked down Donovan in the trenches. Realizing the pup was good at tracking, Donovan adapted a secondary strategy: He taught Rags how to run messages between command and the frontline.
Rags took his new job seriously and never missed a beat. He learned the ropes, knew when to duck and soon the soldiers learned to mimick the dog because dogs have better hearing than humans. Rags saved his unit’s lives on several occasions by knowing when to duck from incoming artillery.
He became quite famous during his reign. But on July of 1918, Rags was charged with delivering an important message. Rags was caught out in the open when the German’s launched a gas attack, catching him without his doggy gas mask. Undeterred, he took a beating and delivered his message…then passed away.
Rags was a true hero and we must never forget his sacrifice.

The First Nemo: 

Nemo the German Shepherd was a veteran of the Vietnam War. Trained as a sentry dog at Lackland Airforce Base in Texas, Nemo was then shipped to Vietnam in 1966. After his original handler returned stateside Nemo was paired with Airman Second Class Robert Thorneburg. The two formed a very close bond right away. On Dec. 3rd 1966, after a long night of fighting, Thorneburg and Nemo were on patrol when Nemo sensed something. Before Thorneburg could radio for backup, Thorneburg was shot in the shoulder and Nemo was shot in the muzzle. The bullet entered his right eye and exited through his mouth. Ignoring the wound, Nemo bolted for the gunmen and allowed Thorneburg the time to call for help. Both man and dog were rushed in for emergency treatment. Nemo’s right eye was removed and he received skin grafts on his wounds. He was flown home to Lacklund to live out the rest of his life with the very best Veterinary care on the Airforce base, a hero till the end. He died on March 15th 1973. Rest in peace my heroic friend.
These are just a few of the many heroic stories of war dogs. Those furry beasts we call friends all too often lay down their lives when called upon. Their loyalty knows no end and they will never turn their backs on you. Let’s remember to take a brief moment each memorial day to say thank you to those beautiful beasts who give so much for us as well as those who serve alongside them.
You can find more wonderful stories about heroic dogs here and here. And I’d like to give a big thank you to those who serve in uniform on both two legs and four. You can find out more about the War Dog memorial here.


12 comments:

  1. Suzie, those are some fantastic stories. I've always been a cat person, but I'm fascinated by how intelligent and loyal dogs are. They can be trained to do some incredible things. All the time, we hear about K-9 units and Seeing Eye Dogs, but I had no idea that dogs had been used in war. Thanks for sharing this!

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    1. Catherine, sometimes I think about how boring our lives would be without animals period. They fill so many roles for us and all they ask for in return is a scratch behind the ears. I love animals. I have a special place in my heart for dogs as that's what I grew up with. And lately we've been using war dogs more and more and all too often we forget that our canine friends are war heroes too. I'm glad that I could shed some light on this for some. It's a special story that doesn't get told enough. Thanks for stopping in.

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  2. Awww! What great stories, Suzie! I had a Boston Terrier at one time and he was so smart. Plus, he was adorable with his scrunched nose. Dogs are incredibly loyal, at least all the ones I've ever had. Our dog now is so protective, especially of our daughter and me. I mostly work from home, so she has become quite my buddy. But she likes to bark when I'm on the phone. With most people I can make a joke about my rude co-worker in the next cubicle and get a laugh. :)

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    1. LOL Samantha that is too cute. I've had dogs most of my life so I can't imagine life without them honestly. I'm lucky to have had so many wonderful dogs as pets. And they really are so protective. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Interesting, Suzie! A friend of mine has a dog that 'washed out' from K-9 police training. He's a sweet dog, but I'm guessing it takes a special set of skills to be a service dog of any kind!

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    1. I think you may be right, Deb. What a great story! I'm glad she was able to give the dog a good home! Thanks for stopping in!

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  4. Suzie, I love this! What a heartwarming post! Dogs are so much smarter than we give them credit for and it's good to remember all they do for us. :)

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    1. Amen, Andris! There are so many stories just like these and it's really sad that we give so little credit to such fine animals who risk their lives for our troops. It's well past time we shine some light on the subject. Rags is probably my favorite story to tell. Thanks for stopping in!

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  5. Thanks for writing this, Suzie. Animals play such an important and often forgotten part of our wartime history. They totally need to be remembered. :)

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    1. Absolutely, Marquita! Thanks so much!

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  6. Dog heroes get me every time :'-) All our military heroes, be them human or canine, are brave and dedicated souls, and I am so grateful for them!

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    1. LOL I knew you would enjoy it, Erin. We dog lovers have to stick together ya know. Thanks for swinging by!

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