“Memorial Day, which is observed on the last Monday of May, commemorates the men and women who died while in the military service.” according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Office of Public Affairs.*
While it is of utmost importance to honor and remember the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in keeping our country safe, we should also take time to honor our fallen military working dogs on Memorial Day.
A Brief History of Military Working Dogs – the use of dogs specially trained to work alongside humans during times of war goes back to ancient times.
- The Roman, Greek, and Egyptian military were known to use dogs as sentries as well as in battle.
- During WW I, dogs were used primarily as messengers. They carried messages from one handler to another.
- In WW II, the United States Marine Corps utilized dogs to help them during the war in the Pacific. Most of the dogs were donated by American owners.
- K9 units played a vital role in helping save American lives during the Vietnam War.
How Military Working Dogs Continue to Serve – the military continues to enlist dogs to serve in a variety of ways. Here are just a few.
- Scouts – a dog’s keen sense of smell and hearing allows it to flush out booby traps and enemy snipers therefore saving the lives of soldiers.
- Sentries – since ancient times, dogs have been deployed to protect military bases, camps, fuel depots and even nuclear weapons facilities. Because of their ability to see in the dark, and their keen sense of hearing and smell, dogs are able to detect an enemy solider way before a human can.
- Explosives and drug detection – bomb- and drug-sniffing dogs are used extensively by the military as well as custom agents and border patrol.
- Post-military Service – dogs used in the military are eventually retired and typically offered to local law enforcement departments. Or they are adopted by their handlers and their families. In some instances, retired military working dogs are paired with returning veterans so that they can help the veteran deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD).
This Memorial Day when honoring our fallen servicemen and women, please set aside some time to remember our brave four-legged companions who fought alongside our troops.
Do you have a military working dog?
Let us know in comments section.
*Memorial Day. (2015) http://www.va.gov/opa/speceven/memday Accessed on May 20, 2016.