Memorial Day: Remembering Military Dogs
Memorial Day weekend is a time when we remember the fallen heroes for whom we are grateful for the liberties we enjoy. It is also a time for rest and enjoyment of those who are still with us. For dog owners, this means spending more time with our dogs than usual, outside of the backyard barbecue.
It is time to remember those who gave their lives in the service of their country. They prioritized duty, honor, and courage over personal safety, and as a result, the United States became more free, safer, and better. We at BudgetPetCare would like to take a moment to honor some of the dogs that have served in the military.
Here are the stories of four of these courageous military working dogs, whose bravery, dedication, and strength inspire us all.
Sgt. Stubby was the mascot of the 102nd Infantry, 26th “Yankee” Division during World War I. Private J. Robert Conroy smuggled Sgt. Stubby, a mixed breed bull terrier, to Europe. He became more than a mascot after being wounded twice. Before a gas attack, he used his acute sense of smell to arouse the men. Stubby was promoted to Sergeant after catching a German spy, making him the first dog in the US military to be awarded a rank. President Wilson had the pleasure of meeting Sgt. Stubby during the war.
Sgt. Stubby wasn’t the first dog to become famous during World War I. Rags, a Scotch-Irish terrier, was discovered in the streets of Paris by Pvt. James Donovan in 1918. Rags was known for his ability to “salute” with his front-right paw, but he was more than just a showman for the troops. He was often in charge of carrying messages and directing medics to injured soldiers. Rags, like Sgt. Stubby, was injured in the battle, losing vision in his right eye during a gas attack. He had a gas mask made for him, but it was dislodged by the blast. Rags lived until 1936, and his life was immortalized in a book published in 1930. “He became a personality in the division, a sign of bravery and good luck,” according to his obituary in the New York Times.
Military working dogs are no longer pets; they are raised from birth to perform specific tasks. These dogs operate in a number of positions alongside Special Forces units or Military Police units, often out of the public eye. Bulletproof vests, night vision and infrared cameras, and a microphone are all provided by the Navy Seals for their pets. Cairo, the Belgian Malinois who accompanied US Navy Seals on the bin Laden raid, is the most prominent dog of the War on Terror. Cairo was brought in to help with perimeter protection, bomb detection, and false wall detection. President Obama had the distinction of meeting Cairo in the White House after the raid. Cairo was named Time’s Animal of the Year in 2011 after appearing in the movie Zero Dark Thirty.
By World War II, war dogs were less likely to be strays adopted by soldiers and more likely to be family pets lent to the US Army. Chips was a Shepherd-Collie-Husky mix from New York who rightly belongs to Edward Wren. Chips was sent to Africa after completing basic training to help guard President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the Casablanca Conference. During the invasion of Sicily, Chips broke free from his handlers and attacked an Italian machine-gun nest, prompting the Italians to surrender. Chips was injured as a result of the assault. Later that night, Chips alerted his handlers to an Italian patrol, allowing the Americans to apprehend it. Chips was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, and the Purple Heart, and he quickly became a hero in his home country. Unfortunately, not everyone thought he deserved it; the Commander of the Order of the Purple Heart objected to the awards, claiming that it diminished the service of the men who received Purple Hearts. Chips was eventually stripped of his medals, and no dog has received one since. He was eventually discharged honorably and returned to Mr. Wren. Chips was immortalized in the Disney film “Chips, the War Dog,” released in 1990.
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