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Posted on Mon, May 30, 2011 : 8:57 a.m.

On this Memorial Day, military working dogs deserve to be honored as well

By Lorrie Shaw


flickr photo courtesy of the U.S. Army

On this Memorial Day, we'll be remembering those who died while in our country's service. In present time, it's especially in the forefront of our minds, and with recent events, I think we are all more mindful of the effort and sacrifice that members of our military have given and what it's all for.

With a traditional image solidified in our minds of those who have served in the military, chances are that we might be missing more of the equation.

There is another link in the chain that remains faceless, generally speaking. Since World War I, military working dogs have been used to save countless lives, and those dogs have also become casualties.

During the Vietnam War, the use of military working dogs increased, and German Shepherds were usually the breed of choice, along with Labrador Retrievers. Capacities that the dogs (and their handlers) served in were usually as scout dogs, combat tracker teams and mine tunnel dog teams.

Canines in the military have gotten some press recently — and as someone who lives and breathes dogs, that's exciting for me.

Dogs are amazing creatures and have abilities that are unmatched by even the most well-trained human soldier. In some cases, without their "expertise," so to speak, some of the strides that are made wouldn't be possible.

The unfortunate side of that coin is that canines serving in the military can be affected just the same by traumatic experiences, just as their human counterparts.

Some, have paid the ultimate price. Read some of those stories here.

Today, many military working dogs train for patrol work and in explosives detection skills. In peacetime, they assist their human counterparts in drug intervention along the United States' southern borders and work as drug detector and explosive detector dogs with the Secret Service. Without the sacrifice of these dogs, some of this work would be much more difficult or impossible.

Lorrie Shaw is lead pets blogger for and owner of Professional Pet Sitting. Shoot her an email, contact her at 734-904-7279 or follow her adventures on Twitter.


Steph B

Thu, Jun 2, 2011 : 6:54 p.m.

Thanks for the article, Lorrie. It's a great reminder for all of us.

Elaine F. Owsley

Mon, May 30, 2011 : 3:37 p.m.

On the way to Milford, using back roads, we used to pass a cemetery on the west side of the road where a life sized statue of a German shepherd was visible. It was a memorial to either police K-9 corps or perhaps military K-9s - it has been a long time since I passed it. There should be memorials of some type for both service dogs in at least one cemetery in an area. So often, these brave canine soldiers and police give their lives for the protection of their human co-workers and others and we assume it was because they were "trained to do it". I choose to think it's more than that.

Ann English

Tue, May 31, 2011 : 12:40 a.m.

Sounds like a cemetery for humans, with a dog monument located there. I've never seen a pet cemetery, but then police and military dogs are far more than mere pets.

Boo Radley

Mon, May 30, 2011 : 1:07 p.m.

I recommend the book "Always Faithful", by Capt. William W. Putney. There are also several other books written about the service and sacrifice of war dogs. Thanks for your reminder of the importance the dogs have had and their contribution to the nation.