Dogs: Our Unsung Heroes

MWDT Monument © MSgt Steven Kaun USAF:USSF Military Working Dog Program Manager - Unsung Heroes
On Veterans Day we honor our veterans, but what about those dogs, who have stood alongside our veterans and firefighters to save the lives of many.  They are our unsung heroes and deserve merit too.  This article is an excerpt from an article I wrote for Big Blend Radio about our dog the unsung heroes.

Dogs have always been there for us through catastrophes, wars, and sickness and have displayed a loyalty, which remains unparalleled during the course of human experience. Many dogs were originally bred to assist their human companions in daily life. A Border Collie, Corgi or Shetland Sheepdog were bred to herd sheep or cattle. Some dogs were bred to hunt animals. A working dog might be a military dog, a K-9 police dog, or a search and rescue dog. Dogs that fall into these categories might be the German Shepherd or a Labrador Retriever.

Many of these dogs are our unsung heroes. They can save lives, detect a bomb or, in the case of a military dog, boost the morale of those soldiers fighting a war. On Veterans Day, we should not only honor our war veterans but those dogs that fought alongside whether it be in a war or search and rescue dogs that partner with our firefighters to save lives during disasters. Let us celebrate some of these dogs that have served us

Unsung Heros Our Search and Rescue Dogs

In 2010 my interest piqued when I read about school children raising money for the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation. Pearl, a shelter dog, who became a search and rescue dog, inspired the book from which the proceeds were donated to the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation to train a dog. Through this experience, I met many search and rescue dogs, including Pearl.  Some of the dogs I encountered were members of the task force team that went to New York after 911. Some went to Japan and Haiti when natural disasters occurred.

My curiosity with the military, search and rescue, and therapy dogs did not stop there. Shortly after that, I discovered that two World War II dogs are buried at the Los Angeles National Cemetery. They no longer permit canine burials, but Bonus and Blackout are the two that have that honor, and I walked the cemetery to pay homage to these dogs.

Unsung Heroes Our Military Dogs

In 2013, I covered the Natural Balance Rose Bowl Parade Float, called Canines with Courage. It celebrated the military dogs that have assisted us in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan wars as well make people aware of the Military Working Dog Teams National Monument located at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in San Antonio, Texas. This location is not only a memorial to those working dog teams, but it is also a dog training facility for the U.S. Armed Services Military working dog program. It also trains working dogs for other government agencies.

After talking to military dogs’ handlers during this experience, I learned that besides working as a team with the dogs as scouts, sentries, trackers, or search and rescue, these dogs accomplished an untold job. They gave unconditional love to the troops when one of their comrades was lost in battle. These dogs’ mascots, bringing soldiers peace of mind through comfort. The dogs all know the difference between when they are comforting versus working.

I also never realized the strong emotional relationship between humans and dogs during wartimes. There is a bond that develops when military handlers train and regularly work with their dog. The dog becomes their best friend, confidant, and partner.

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Featured photo courtesy Courtesy of MWDT Monument © MSgt Steven Kaun USAF_USSF Military Working Dog Program Manager