Military Working Dogs of Gulf War, Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan

Silent Heroes of war

I watch my dogs basking in the sun, the tip of their tail swishing just as I think of them, standing against the door frame. Can they read my mind? I know they will shake off their dreams and follow me as I stroll around the yard.
Their heart chooses to follow mine.
That’s how dogs are.

118 Military Working Dog Teams were deployed to the Gulf region for Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. In the War on Terrorism a big threat are explosives hidden on a person, in a vehicle, or a roadside location. Therefore, Explosives Detection Dogs were, and still are, specially trained to alert when they sense the specific chemicals used in explosives, either packed, hidden or even as powder remains on the humans that handled them or on their clothes . Explosive Dogs are deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and in many other US locations for this purpose alone.

Military Working Dogs of Gulf War, Iraq War and  the War in Afghanistan

2000, Robby’s Law, one reason to cheer for former President Clinton

Before President Clinton passed “Robby’s Law” in 2000, military working dogs were considered “military surplus equipment” and deemed unfit to adjust to civilian life. This meant that once the military could no longer use, need or afford a canine, the once treasure four-legged was either released or euthanized instead of honored. After “Robby’s Law” was passed, handlers (who had already formed a strong bond with their canine mate) and their families were first to be offered the opportunity at adopting these military animals at the completion of their service.

Military Working Dogs of Gulf War, Iraq War and Afghanistan War

Some soldiers even used their military operational bonus to buy the dog that served with them.

MWD watching and soldier sleeping
MWD watching and soldier sleeping.

“Fluffy was my Comrade in arms first, then he walked into my heart as my friend and became my buddy then he became part of my family.
He was not a pet! He was a soldier first. During our time in Iraq he checked on me and I checked on him. He was one of the team, he was my battle buddy! If I sat down he would sit no farther than five feet away. If I got up and moved ten feet he would get up and move ten feet. “

Russel, on K920Fluffy (Iraq War vet) – USAWarDogs.org
Photo of U.S. Army veteran Joe Steenbeke with military dog Tess in Afghanistan Credit Reunite Joe and Tess, Facebook
Photo of U.S. Army veteran Joe Steenbeke with military dog Tess in Afghanistan Credit Reunite Joe and Tess, Facebook

For the dog training program, Iraq came too late after Vietnam

The first 30 dog teams sent into Iraq in 2004 were the “guinea pigs”, all tactical lessons and experience gained during the Vietnam war lost. What made it worthwhile for the dog teams were the canines, with their honest, open and loving personalities.

Iraq  Afghanistan - buddies, militry dog and soldier

The Paradogs: the parachuting dogs of war

By 2008 German Shepherd dogs already jumped from aircrafts at 25,000ft, strapped to a member of the special forces assault teams. Later, Belgian Malinois dogs, lighter and stubbier, were considered better for the tandem parachute jumping and rappelling operations often undertaken by SEAL teams. The tandem jumping was done to protect the canines on landing.

Ready for tandem jumping. Source Foreign Policy
Ready for tandem jumping. Source Foreign Policy

A military dog would only be allowed to jump solo form a helicopter if he lands in water and only if properly outfitted with a flotation vest. Such dogs were trained to accompany soldiers on ‘High Altitude High Opening’ (HAHO) parachute jumps. After landing, men and MWDs would still have to travel 20 miles to their targets.

Military dogs trained to accompany soldiers on 'High Altitude High Opening' (HAHO) parachute jumps. Source Foreign Policy
Military dogs trained to accompany soldiers on ‘High Altitude High Opening’ (HAHO) parachute jumps. Source Foreign Policy

These MWDs had small cameras fixed to their heads and, trained to penetrate the enemy lines before their human partners, would hunt for Taliban or insurgent hideouts. The cameras will sent live images back to the troops while the dogs warn of possible ambushes.

MWD dogs equipped with Canine Tactical Assault Vests
MWD dogs equipped with Canine Tactical Assault Vests

The elite American unit, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, commonly known as Delta Force, has pioneered the parachute technique from heights over 20,000ft.

U.S. Army soldier with the 10th Special Forces Group and his military working dog jump off the ramp of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment during water training over the Gulf of Mexico:

U.S. Army soldier with the 10th Special Forces Group and his military working dog jump off the ramp of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment during water training over the Gulf of Mexico. DoD photo by Tech. Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez, U.S. Air Force.
Training over the Gulf of Mexico. MWDs show no fear. A military dog would only be allowed to jump solo form a helicopter if he lands in water

2009: U.S. Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade and a MWD wait for helicopter transport as part of Operation Khanjar at Camp Dwyer in Helmand Province in Afghanistan on July 2, 2009:

U.S. Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade wait for helicopter transport as part of Operation Khanjar at Camp Dwyer in Helmand Province in Afghanistan on July 2, 2009

Navy Seal teams are trained to parachute from great heights and deploy out of helicopters with dogs. In 2010 the Seals bought four waterproof tactical vests for their dogs that featured infrared and night-vision cameras and an ‘intruder communication system’ able to penetrate concrete walls. The MWD’s handlers — using a three-inch monitor from as far as 1,000 yards away — could immediately see what the dogs were seeing. The vests, which come in coyote tan and camouflage, let handlers communicate with the dogs through a speaker and were strong enough to protect the dogs from harm due to everything, from bullets to ice picks. The four vests together cost over $86,000 at the time, says a 2011 NY Times article.

MWD K9 gear - best body Armor available for military dogs. Source K9 Storm
MWD K9 gear – the best body Armor for military dogs. Source K9 Storm

The world record for highest man-dog parachute jump

In 2011 U.S. Military Handler Mike Forsythe, a former US Navy SEAL turned canine parachute instructor for military and search & rescue units and his dog Cara, strapped on a K9 Storm Vest tactical body armor and fitted an oxygen mask, jumped in tandem from over 30,100 feet, the altitude at which transoceanic passenger jets fly. Cara is a Belgian Malinois.

Highest man-dog parachute jump. Mike Forsythe and Cara. Photo source: K9 Storm Inc Handout Reuters
Highest man-dog parachute jump. Mike Forsythe and Cara. Photo source: K9 Storm Inc Handout Reuters

In October 2010 the Pentagon announced that after six years and $19 billion spent in the attempt to build the ultimate bomb detector technology, dogs were still the most accurate sniffers around. The rate of detection with the Pentagon’s fanciest equipment — drones and aerial detectors — was a 50 percent success rate, but when a dog was involved it rose an extra 30 percent.

War dog canine military service SEAL team repelling from a helicopter
War dog canine military service SEAL team repelling from a helicopter

Marines began a pilot program in Afghanistan with nine bomb-sniffing dogs, a number that reached approximately 650 at the end of 2011 and 2,800 active-duty dogs in 2013, making it the largest canine contingent in the world.

The MWD who took Osama bin Laden down

Not many know, but the 81 members of the American commando team who blitzed into Abbottabad, Pakistan, to capture and kill Osama bin Laden had a MWD with them. Some say he was the U.S.’s most courageous dog, yet little was known about him until recently. his name is Cairo and he is a Belgian Malinois.

MWD Cairo, the war dog who helped take Osama bin Laden down, the 81st member of SEAL team who blitzed into Abbottabad, Pakistan, in 2011
MWD Cairo, the war dog who helped take Osama bin Laden down, the 81st member of SEAL team who blitzed into Abbottabad, Pakistan, in 2011

MWDs in the War in Afghanistan

NATO soldier carries sniffing dog after gun battle in Kabul on April 16 2012. Source: Boston archive
A NATO soldier carries sniffing dog after gun battle in Kabul on April 16 2012. A brazen 18hrs Taliban attack on the capital ended when insurgents overcome heavy gunfire from Afghan led forces and pre-dawn air assaults from coalition helicopter. Source: Boston Archive

How MWDs contribute to the local Afghan economy

Maintaining a Military Base, building roads and maintaining them requires constant effort. Often local contractors are used, in an attempt to support the local (Afghan) economy. But to keep the soldiers safe, each local truck or worker has to be checked for possible hidden explosives (they are aware of or not). Here is where Vehicle Search dogs play an important role.

There is always peace between a MWD, a Marine and local Afghan children caught in the war.
There is always peace between a MWD, a Marine and local Afghan children caught in the war.

Surviving the harsh climate in Afghanistan

If you wondered how the MWDs survive the harsh climate of Afghanistan, know that (some) of their kennels are equipped with air conditioning and, often, if an army base has a swimming pool – that definitely is not for the benefit of the humans.

LCpl Natasha Mooney on patrol with Panchio in Helmand Province - Source British Army blog
LCpl Natasha Mooney on patrol with Panchio in Helmand Province, Afghanistan

Dog Breeds preferred as MWDs by U.S. Military

U.S. military prefers mostly German and Dutch shepherds and Belgian Malinois, breeds because they are aggressive, smart, loyal and athletic.

Training together: Staff Sgt. Erick Martinez, a military dog handler uses an over-the-shoulder carry to hold his dog, Argo II, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The exercise helps build trust, loyalty, and teamwork. Source Foriegn Policy.
Staff Sgt. Erick Martinez, a military dog handler, uses an over-the-shoulder carry with Argo II during an exercise at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The exercise helps build trust, loyalty and teamwork for Sergeant Martinez and Argo II, who have been working together for only two months. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Allen Stokes)

German Shepherd dogs are the standard breed because they are considered to be intelligent, dependable, predictable, easily trained, usually moderately aggressive, and can adapt quickly to almost any climatic conditions.

Buddies training together. Having each-other's  back.
Buddies training together. Having each-other’s back.

Single-purpose dogs are used for one purpose only: sniffing out explosives or narcotics. Retrievers (Labrador, Golden or Chesapeake Bay) are preferred, also Viszlas, various short-and wire-haired pointers, Jack Russell terriers and even small poodles. These are all nose, no bite dogs. These dogs are trained to locate either drugs or explosives – never both. “When your dog makes an alert you need to know whether to run away and call the explosives people or whether to go arrest someone.”

Praying together. A military dog and his human handler.
Praying together

It is empowering, yet worrisome to find out that military working dogs today train for such a diverse range of tasks: EDD (Explosive Detector Dog), NDD (Narcotics Detector Dog), SSD (Specialized Search Dog) – trained to work off leash, at long distances from their handler, in order to find explosives. SDD dogs work by hand signals, and can even receive commands via radio receivers they wear on their backs, attached to their bulletproof doggy vest, and TEDD (Tactical Explosive Detector Dog).

A dog can have up to 225 million olfactory receptors in his nose and the part of their brain devoted to scent is 40 times greater than that of a human.

“A dog can see through his nose.”

Mike Dowling, former Marine Corps dog handler, Iraq
MWD and his handler keeping watch together
Keeping watch together

More single purpose dogs, like the dogs I depicted in my latest novel Silent Heroes: CTD (Combat Tracker Dog) trained to detect where IEDs and weapons caches are located; MDD (Mine Detection Dog): these dogs do slow off-leash searches for buried mines and artillery; IDD (IED Detector Dog), this is a temporary program created to fulfill the urgent need for bomb dogs, especially in Afghanistan.

Never Give Up - A MWD hurt by an IED (Improvised Explosive Device)
Never Give Up – A MWD hurt by an IED (Improvised Explosive Device)

Of course, there are dual-purpose dogs, multi-purpose canines, the special K-9 Corps of CIA.

What are vapor-wake dogs?

Scientists at Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine have genetically bred and specially trained canines that are able do more than just detect stationary bombs or bomb-making materials. These MWDs can identify and alert their handler to the moving scent of explosive devices and materials left behind in the air.
If a suicide bomber walks through a crowd, these dogs would be able to tell him apart without ever tipping off the perpetrator.
The cost of breeding and training vapor-wake dogs is around $20,000 each, still less than the cost of training most MWDs.

U.S. sergeant Matthew Templet and his bomb-sniffing dog Basco search for the explosives in an abandoned house in Haji, Ghaffar village, during a clearance patrol in Zari district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan on Dec. 27, 2010.Source Foreign Policy
U.S. sergeant Matthew Templet and his bomb-sniffing dog Basco search for the explosives in an abandoned house in Haji, Ghaffar village, during a clearance patrol in Zari district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan on Dec. 27, 2010. Source Foreign Policy

The Difference between a German Shepherd and a Belgian Malinois dog

But training is much more than teaching a dog commands. It is bonding, above anything else.

Dereck Stevens bonds with his military working dog before a practice drill at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. Credit Bryce Harper for The New York Times.jpg
Dereck Stevens bonds with his military working dog before a practice drill at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. Credit Bryce Harper for The New York Times

There is no count to the number of hidden bombs detected and the human lives saved by the MWDs today, yet it is certain that the use of these dogs marked a pivotal moment for the coalition forces on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, especially when it comes to the moral of the troops and the freedom of movement for the ground patrols operating in combat areas.

U.S. Marines attached to 1st Battalion, 6th regiment, Charlie Company relax with their bomb-sniffing dogs Books and Good one in Huskers camp on the outskirts of Marjah in central Helmand, Afgganistan, on Jan. 25, 2010. Source Foreign Policy
U.S. Marines attached to 1st Battalion, 6th regiment, Charlie Company relax with their bomb-sniffing dogs Books and Good one in Huskers camp on the outskirts of Marjah in central Helmand, Afgganistan, on Jan. 25, 2010. Source Foreign Policy

The bond formed between military dogs and their human handlers is stronger than an outsider can imagine, helping the soldiers cope with a ghastly war.

Always by your side.
The bond between the human handler and the military dog goes very deep. Always by your side.

In crucial moments, when humans naturally tend to doubt themselves, a dog will sense the tension and still trust his handler, and this tips the situation in the favor of the human-dog team.

A dog sits at the grave of his owner, who died in conflict.
A dog sits at the grave of his owner, who died in conflict.

All dogs trained and used by the U.S. military are procured and trained by the 341st Military Working Dog Training Squadron, Lackland AFB, TX.

Marine war dogs memorial.jpg
Marine war dogs memorial
2012 army photo competition.Amateur Portrait category runner-up Cpl Dawson and his dog Lightning rest up in TCP West.Picture Captain Richard Willing MoD Crown Copyright via Getty Images
Army Photographic Competition 2012…(STRICTLY EMBARGOED UNTIL OCTOBER 10, 2012 00:01HRS BST) In this handout image supplied by the Ministry of Defence Crown Copyright, photo entitled ‘LIGHTNING AND HIS HANDLER’, depicting Cpl Dawson and his dog Lightning rest up in TCP West. (Army Amateur Portrait category runner up; Photo by Captain Richard Willing/MoD/Mandatory Credit Crown Copyright via Getty Images)

Doggles – goggles for dogs!

MWD with doggles, goggles for dogs, in an army helicopter
Doggles – it is all about protection

Dogs, the Silent Heroes of any war

Some might argue that the use of animals, and lately dogs, in war borders an ethical dilemma. Yet during conflicts, saving human lives (be it military or civilians, always dragged in combat) always takes first stage and it is certain that hundreds, if not thousands of men, women and children owe their life, in one way or another, to the military working dogs, MWDs, who served beside them.

My latest novel, Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for, was written with respect for the military life and the local traditions and beliefs of all of those caught in the War in Afghanistan.

Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for
Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for – New Contemporary Fiction by Patricia Furstenberg

Silent War Heroes page on my website contains part of the extensive knowledge I absorbed while researching for Silent Heroes as well as links to all my articles about the history of human-canine relationship and that of the military dogs. I hope you will stop by.

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American Dogs of WW2, the History of the First K9 Unit, Cappy, Chips and Daisy

US-Marine-Private-John-Drugan-and-his-war-dog-Okinawa-Japan-May-1945-source-ww2dbase

Dogs, with their cute faces, were extensively used during the Great War and their help proved invaluable on so many levels. But do you know that, throughout the centuries, the canines joined kings in battles and that during WW2 the British began relying on dogs quite late (after the Germans)?

What happened across the Pond, in the United States?

Prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor the US citizens were not interested in joining the war in Europe, but the US Marines knew that one day soon they will have to fight the Japanese (remember the “island-hopping” in the Pacific) and so they began training military dogs.

“Dogs for Defense” – the US Military Dogs

After the December 7 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the US declaring war on Japan on 8 December 1941, followed closely by Germany and Italy declaring war on the United States, “Dogs for Defense” was formed and dogs were formally trained for the military for the first time in the US history.

Dogs For Defense was the appointed agency for canine recruitment and training. They started with 200 dogs… and soon became the nick-name of the military dog training operation in the US became K-9 Corps.

Dogs for Defense. Source, ww2dbase
Dogs for Defense. Source, ww2dbase

In July 1942 the Secretary of War specifically asked Digs for Defense to include training of dogs in the following categories: sentry dogs, patrol dogs, messengers, and mine detection dogs. But very soon the Navy, the Coast Guard and Marine Corp became training their own military canines…

The US Marines were some of the first to show interest in training war dogs as they had experienced losing ground against enemy using sentry dogs in Haiti and other “Banana Wars” in Central America during 1914 – 1934.

US Marine Private John Drugan and his war dog in Okinawa, Japan, May 1945. Source: ww2dbase
US Marine Private John Drugan and his war dog in Okinawa, Japan, May 1945. Source: ww2dbase

The Devildogs – the US Marines’ dogs

The dogs trained by the US Marines were soon nicknamed “Devil Dogs” a nick name the Marines earned during WWI while fighting against the Germans. However, Dobermans weren’t the only breed that the US Marines used, but since the DPCA (Doberman Pinscher Club of America) was the one organization recruiting canines for the Marines, the initial emphasis was placed on this breed…

An US Marin Corps combat soldier with his K9 and buddy Doberman. Image by Peter Gumaer, Ogden
An US Marin Corps combat soldier with his K9 and buddy Doberman. Image by Peter Gumaer, Ogden

The first US K-9 Corps unit assigned to a tactical operation went to the Pacific

The First US K-9 Tactical Detachment. Source ww2dbase
The First US K-9 Tactical Detachment. Source ww2dbase

So a few War Dog Platoons soon appeared. Eight war dogs, six scouts and two messenger dogs were part of the first K-9 Corps unit.  A report on their activities read:

“Patrol led by the dogs were never ambushed and suffered no casualties.”

The scout dogs were very good at alerting the Allies of incoming Japanese or spy local warriors and at guarding during the night. The messenger dogs were not disturbed in the bit by the local flora, so different in size and scents from what they knew from home, during training. The messenger dogs proved invaluable at keeping contact especially during heavy rain when electronic communication was cut off.

The dogs were held in such high regard, that they were allowed to travel in the officer’s plane, from one island to another. It is said that during a turbulent landing two dogs started a fight soon followed by the officers’ evacuation of the plane in a hurry, through the escape hatch.

Indeed, the War Dog Platoons proved invaluable to the US Marines during the Battle of Guam in July of 1944. See landing image below:

US Marines and War Dog Patrol landing on Guam Island
US Marines and War Dog Patrol landing on Guam Island

Looks familiar?

"Into the Jaws of Death" - the Normany Landing, Source: Wikipedia
“Into the Jaws of Death” – the Normany Landing, Source: Wikipedia

Three War Dog Platoons worked alongside US Marines on Guam Island. Here, the war dogs guarded the US  camps, rescued wounded Marines, delivered messages, searched through caves for Japanese soldiers in hiding and alerted the Marines to the presence of landmines or booby traps set by Japanese.

Cappy, one of the Devil Dogs of the Marine Corps, Source historydaily.
Cappy, one of the Devil Dogs of the Marine Corps, Source historydaily.

A true story: Cappy and his handler, PFC Allen Jacobson

One night Cappy alerted 250 sleeping Marines of a vast force of advancing Japanese, saving their lives. Sadly, both Cappy and his handler, PFC Allen Jacobson, were injured in the battle that followed. True to his partner, Jacobson refused to leave the battle area and receive treatment until Cappy had also been evacuated.

Next, the US K-9 unit fought in the jungles of Papua New Guinea and on the beaches of Cape Gloucester, supporting either the Australian or British Marines against the Japanese forces.

A Marine dog handler and his Doberman war dog on the island of Saipan, 1944. Source: historydaily
A Marine dog handler and his Doberman war dog on the island of Saipan, 1944. Source: historydaily

The Doberman War Dogs could eventually outrank their handlers.

While training to become War Dogs, the Dobermans began their training as Privates and were promoted based on the length of service. Thus, after three months the Dobermans became a Private First Class, after one year a Corporal, after two years a Sergeant, after three years a Platoon Sergeant, after four years a Gunner Sergeant, and after five years a Master Gunner Sergeant.

Is it good for a Military Dog to outrank its human handler?

Today, this is often a custom that ensures the handler treats the Military Working Dog with the respect it deserves, while still giving it some freedom to behave like a dog if they ever disobey an order.

The first US K-9 patrol to help in Europe

Six Members Of The 33rd QMC Patrol, , assigned to the 6th South African Armored Division in Italy, the first US K-9 patrol to help in Europe.
Six Members Of The 33rd QMC Patrol, , assigned to the 6th South African Armored Division in Italy, the first US K-9 patrol to help in Europe.

Again, even through deep snow,, the dogs proved to be of invaluable assistance, and not only military. In March 1945, when communication was cut off, the messenger dogs kept the information going until another canine member carried a telephone on his back to the isolated unit.

True stories: Chip’s independent spirit and Daisy’s loyalty

Chips, one of the first US dogs to serve in Sicily with 3rd Division of General Patton's Seventh Army, visiting the unit's doughnut tent.
Chips, one of the first US dogs to serve in Sicily with 3rd Division of Gen. Patton’s Seventh Army, visiting the unit’s doughnut tent.

Chips was a dog with a great personality and an even bigger heart who saved many lives during WW2. Perhaps it was his mixed blood, Chips being part shepherd, part collie, part husky, that gave him a keen sense of smell and hearing. Perhaps it was his love for humans that got him to show great bravery in battle… What is certain is that the more he ventured, the more his nonconformist spirit didn’t go well with his superiors… We need to remember that canine psychology was not so well understood back then.

For example, while his division – exhausted and soaked after pulling ashore on the seemingly deserted beaches of Sicily – retrieved behind an abandoned outpost to regroup, Chips chose to dash over No Man’s Land…

Typical canine behavior, right? Not quite.

Soon after a machine gun was heard, then a crippling silence embraced Chips’ division. Of course, they dashed over to investigate. They discovered Chips holding tight onto the throat of a German gunner, while five other German soldiers had already surrendered to the brave military dog.

Had Chips sniffed the gunpowder? The uniforms? Had he heard whisper or the click of the machine guns? What is sure is that he saved the lives of the men in his division. Yet he did not escaped unharmed; he received a wound to the scalp and burns to his mouth and left eye.

A friendly smile from Chips! Just look at this clever boy!
A friendly smile from Chips! Just look at this clever boy!

Although he showed his bravery many times, Chips was never decorated because of his tendency to act on his own, thus breaking the rules, and because, sigh, he was “only a dog”. Nevertheless, his comrades presented Chips with a Theater Ribbon. On the ribbon were an arrowhead for the assault landing at Sicily and a star for each of the eight campaigns during which Chips served.

Bronze Arrowhead. Army & USAF participation in parachute, glider & amphibious assault or landing.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The arrowhead would denote participation in amphibious landing in Chips’ case. It would have looked something like the ribbon above, but with eight stars.

Eventually, Chips received the Silver Star in 1943 for bravery in combat and in 2018 Chips was awarded the Dickin Medal, the highest honor for wartime bravery by an animal.

The Silver Star, US Military
The Silver Star, US Military

True story: Daisy’s loyalty, even in frigid waters

Daisy was a golden retriever and the mascot of a Norwegian merchant ship that in 1944 was accidentally (or not) torpedoed in the North Atlantic. During WW2 the Nortraship (The Norwegian Shipping and Trade Mission) operated some 1,000 vessels and was the largest shipping company in the world, operating outside German-controlled areas. Nortraship made a major contribution to the Allied war effort.

After the torpedo sank Daisy’s ship, all throughout that night Daisy swam from one survivor to another, licking their faces, warming up their noses with her breath, in a desperate attempt to keep them awake – and alive – in the icy waters of the North Atlantic until help arrived, the following day.

Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring – it was peace.

Milan Kundera

I hope that you enjoy dipping into past history with me, as we looked at the roles dogs played during long-ago battles, during WW1 or WW2 (the British canines).

Next time we will look at the Soviet Union, German and Japanese War Dogs of WW2 and then at Para-dogs of WW2, but until then you can browse some of my books – and see if you can identify their common denominator…

Silent Heroes, When Love and Values are Worth Fighting for
Silent Heroes, When Love and Values are Worth Fighting for

Silent Heroes, is a work of fiction about the Military Working Dogs and the amazing Marines and local people caught in the War in Afghanistan.

Joyful Trouble, Based on the True Story of a Dog Enlisted in the Royal Navy
Joyful Trouble, Based on the True Story of a Dog Enlisted in the Royal Navy

Take home an unbelievable and humorous true story of an incredible dog and how he found his true, yet unexpected calling, Joyful Trouble.

As Good as Gold, A Dog's Life in Poems
As Good as Gold, A Dog’s Life in Poems

Celebrating the simple things in life as seen through the eyes of our old time favorite furry friends, “As Good as Gold” is a volume of poetry revealing the talent and humor we always knew our dogs possessed.

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Why dogs Were so indispensable during warfare AND how dog training began via @PatFurstenberg #dogs #wardogs #war

Why were dogs so indispensable during warfare AND how dog training began

It was 1895 when Lt Col Edwin Hautenville Richardson, a Scot military man, noticed a German man buying a sheepdog from a shepherd.On engaging the two, Richardson learns that the German army was buying British collies to train and use in their own military service.

On engaging the two, Richardson learns that the German army was buying British collies to train and use in their own military service.

German Imperial Army
German Imperial Army

In the eve of WW1 Richardson and his wife Blanche Bannon, both dog lovers, were already training dogs. Soon the military asked them to begin a British War Dogs training school in Shoeburyness, Essex. The Richardsons trained hundreds of hounds for military service during both world wars.

Richardson particularly liked the Airedale Terrier.

Edwin Richardson trained Airedale terriers for the police in Glasgow before supplying canine recruits for World War One.
Edwin Richardson trained Airedale terriers for the police in Glasgow before supplying canine recruits for World War One.

“They’re very determined. They’re very single-minded and there’s no stopping them.”

Lt Col Edwin Hautenville Richardson

Right about this time, but a woman, her dog and her Harley-Davidson Motorcycle took the journey of a lifetime.

While in Europe Airedale Terriers were even taught to use gas masks as part of their military service.

Airedale Terriers were taught to use gas masks as part of their military service -Getty source
Airedale Terriers were taught to use gas masks as part of their military service -Getty source

The dogs were also trained to carry first aid and supplies for soldiers at the front.

“The dead and badly wounded are easily found; they lay where they fought; but the lightly wounded, those that had still strength to crawl and hunt shelter or water to quell their thirst, are the ones that te hospital corps is apt to miss. Speaking from the viewpoint of military efficiency these slightly wounded are the very soldiers that should be specially cared for, for on their speedy recovery they may prove in a long-drawn-out war the deciding factor that will end it, when they have again returned to the fighting line. Good Red Cross Dogs will quickly clear a battle-ground of all wounded soldiers.”

(Scout, Red Cross Army Dogs)
The dogs were also trained to carry first aid and supplies for soldiers at the front - Getty source
The dogs were also trained to carry first aid and supplies for soldiers at the front – Getty source

Richardson even paid unemployed locals to pretend being injured or dead people, lying around the dunes, and helping the dogs to train.

“We also served” is the special bandana of The Airedale Terrier Club of Scotland today.

"We also served" -The Airedale Terrier Club of Scotland today.
“We also served” -The Airedale Terrier Club of Scotland today.

Richardson’s contribution to the development of the military and Red Cross dog units was in-commensurable through his assiduous research, work and dedication towards canines. The first Army Dog School in England, at the start of The Great War, would not have been possible without his work.

Before his aid was required at the beginning of the Great War, the fame of Richardson’s highly trained dogs had reached far away, as proved by his services being required by Sultan Abdul Hamid, Empress Eugenie, of Bulgaria, the Abor expedition in India, the Gordon Highlanders, the Norfolk Regiment, and the King’s Durham Light Infantry, and Queen Mary on the eve of WW1.

Why were dogs so indispensable during warfare?

There is nothing like a dog’s loyalty and determination. Once a dog is taught a s skill, he will be happy to apply it to please his human master and friend.

It is our responsibility to be mindful of what we teach our dogs for they will do anything we ask them in order to make us happy.

A helpful dog
Helpful dog

Once a dog knows his destination he will get there at all costs. Pigeons cannot be sent in a fog or in the dark. Dogs will go in all weathers and at all times. During heavy bombardment by the enemy the casualties among the runners (soldiers sent to deliver messages) are heavy, especially when they have to cross n pen field where they are exposed to snipers, machine gun fire, or a heavy barrage. A runner would take two or three hours to do a journey from the trenches, while a dog only half an hour or less.

Richardson on training the his war dogs:

“The drill yesterday began with an obstacle race by a squad well advanced in training. Across the road were placed a barbed wire fence and a few yards further on a hurdle, and beyond that a barrier made of branches of trees. The dogs were taken about a mile up the road and then released. There was a great race for home. The bigger dogs leapt clear of all the obstructions; the smaller ones wriggled their way through; but two wily sheep dogs, strictly in accordance with the rules of the game preferred to leap a ditch and make a detour, arriving home as quickly as the others.

Novices who go astray in these and other test are never punished. They are caught by the keepers and gently led back for another try.”

Airedale Terriers of War
Airedale Terriers of War

Sadly, most of the Dog Messenger Service heroes are anonymous as officially they were known only by the numbers on the collars.

Dogs, the Silent Heroes of World War One

After some trial and error, medium sized dogs with grey or black fur were preferred, with good eyesight and “character”. Breeds varies, from a cross between a bulldog and a mastiff to German shepherds, retrievers, pointers and large Airedale terriers.

But above all, “character and training” was wanted.

We saw how dogs became man’s best friend.

How well dogs helped during the Great War and the Second World War we will see soon, as well as finding amazing stories about dog war mascots and other mongrels.

Do return to find out.

My latest book is‘Silent Heroes’, a highly emotional read, action-packed, a vivid story of enormous sacrifice and bravery that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

It is a book extremely well researched, with authentic details and an epic sense of the place. The war and the military involved, Marines and dogs, are described with reverence, as are the civilians caught in the middle of the fire.

Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for
Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for
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Celebrating the Readers of “Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for” and Their 5 Stars Reviews for This Book via @PatFurstenberg #SilentHeroes #book #kindle #read #holiday #fiction

Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for, 5 stars reviews

Published less than a month ago, “Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for” already receives praise from its readers: ” I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel”, ” extremely well written and well researched”, “It was also very interesting to read about the important role Military Working Dogs played in the US Marines’ war against the Taliban insurgents, “I highly recommend this book”, “a very exciting, moving and well written book “, “I especially appreciated the amount of research that went into making the story as true to life as possible. Would highly recommend this excellent book”, “a great read”, The research into the Afghan culture, as well as the American war dogs, is like none other. The historical aspect was brilliantly done.”

“Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for” is still a #1 New Release on Amazon US.

Number 1 New Release History in Afghanistan since publication
Number 1 New Release History in Afghanistan since publication

5 Stars Amazon UK Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars I highly recommend this book and give it a full five stars! 26 July 2019 Format: Kindle Edition Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for

“I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel from Patricia Furstenberg. The book is extremely well written and well researched. Not only does she depict the harsh realities of war, but the emotional turmoil and pain of the soldiers and the Afghan population innocently caught in the war. It was also very interesting to read about the important role Military Working Dogs played in the US Marines’ war against the Taliban insurgents.
I highly recommend this book and give it a full five stars!”

5 Stars Amazon UK Review: I  thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel from Patricia Furstenberg."
5 Stars Amazon UK Review: I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel from Patricia Furstenberg.”

5 Stars Amazon Australia Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended 31 July 2019 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

“This is a very exciting, moving and well written book about war in Afghanistan. Although I didn’t serve there, as an ex Airborne Engineer and veteran of many IED search teams, I especially appreciated the amount of research that went into making the story as true to life as possible. Would highly recommend this excellent book. ”

5 Stars Amazon Review: "This  is a very exciting, moving and well written book about war in  Afghanistan."
5 Stars Amazon Review: “This is a very exciting, moving and well written book about war in Afghanistan.”

“The premise of this story is fantastic! I went through a whole variety of emotions. The research into the Afghan culture, as well as the American war dogs, is like none other. The historical aspect was brilliantly done. I loved the characters. They all had special stories within the story as a whole. The setting made me feel as though I were there. Absolutely delightful telling.” (Amazon Kindle Unlimited Reader)

Amazon UK #2 Bestsellers Arms Control.jpg
Amazon UK #2 Bestsellers Arms Control
Amazon UK #4 Bestseller Middle Eastern
Amazon UK #4 Bestseller Middle Eastern

Have you read “Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for” yet? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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Dogs, Man’s Best Friend, as Illustrated by Art, From Once Upon a Time to the 20th Century via @patfurstenberg #dogs #art #history

Human's Love for Dogs as Illustrated by Art, From Once Upon a Time to the 20th Century by Patricia Furstenberg, photo Simon Matzinger, Source Unspalsh

The old claim that a dog is one’s best friend is validated through historical records, be it art, folklore or books. Yet it requires no proof to anyone lucky enough to enjoy the company of a dog in modern day’s society. The stories and the inspiration behind art such as this is what fuels my writing.

I invite you to travel with me through a fast-paced, awe-inspiring journey from the past’s “once upon a time” to the 20th century illustrating the human-dog bond.

More to come in the following weeks on the astounding role dogs, these silent heroes, played during the Great War, World War II, the Vietnam Wat, and the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as what it takes to become a Military Working Dog.

How dogs helped the human brain to evolve

There isn’t a shadow of a doubt that, at some stage during their passing on this planet, humans decided to domesticate wolves (the grey wolf). Why they did it, choosing a breed they will have to compete against for food, is mysterious enough to feed the imagination of many writers.

How dogs helped the human brain to evolve
How dogs helped the human brain to evolve . Source ancestry

Perhaps domesticating the cunning foxes failed or it was the super-olfactory ability of dogs that triggered the human determination. Or was it all a coincidence? Theories speak of more than one time when human attempted to domesticate dogs, starting as far as 20 000 – 32 000 years ago.
What is certain is that the canines evolutionary journey from wolves to dogs happened simultaneously with the human’s development of speech (about 150 000 years ago). The time when our ancestors’ acute olfactory capabilities began to diminish, their brain accommodating the extra neural synapses and cortex area dedicated to verbal communication.No wonder that dogs , with their super-olfactory ability, looked, all of a sudden, so much more appealing to have as companions. Not mentioning the cuteness of their puppies.

Footprints in the Chauvet Cave: a child and his dog

Chauvet Cave located in the southern France is renowned as the site of some of the world’s oldest mural paintings, and not only.
At the back of the cave the soil and rock have preserved the footprints of a small child (estimated at about 1,4 m height and 8-10 years old) walking beside a dog. The trace is 45 meters long, enough for scientists to analyze and conclude that the child was walking and not running. What is amazing is that the prints he left show that at some stage the child slipped in the soft clay and that at some stage he stopped to clean his torch (proven by the stain of charcoal left behind).
Alongside the child’s footprints are those of a large dog or a wolf friend.

Chauvet Cave: human child and dog footprints 26 000 years old
Chauvet Cave: human child and dog footprints 26 000 years old

Dogs in Mesopotamia: The Epic of Gilgamesh

I still remember learning n school about oldest piece of epic world literature, written c. 2150 – 1400 BCE – that is 1500 years before Homer even put pen on paper.

It explores a theme as old as humankind, he quest for the meaning of life.

Dogs are mentioned and shown their importance in everyday life: they are the companions of one of the most popular goddesses of the region, the goddess Innana (Ishtar). She travels with seven prized hunting dogs in collar and leash.

Innana (Ishtar) and one of her seven dogs - source wikipedia
Innana (Ishtar) and one of her seven dogs – source Wikipedia

Dogs in Mahabharata, the longest epic poem ever written

Also from school (who would have thought?) I remember the Mahabharata as being one of the most important texts of ancient Indian and world literature.

Written 400 BCE the Mahabharata features a dog that might have been an Indian Pariah Dog.

“The dog must come with me,” said Yudhisthira
“That is not possible,” said Indra. “All cannot attain heaven. The dog is old and thin and has no value.”
“In that case, I do not seek heaven, “replied Yudhisthira. “The dog was my faithful companion and I cannot abandon it. It sought my help and gave me unconditional love. The pleasures of heaven will mean nothing to me in comparison to its grief. It has done nothing to deserve abandonment and had none of the weaknesses of my wife and brothers. If it does not deserve to go to heaven, then neither do I.

Mahabharata
Yudhisthira with a dog as a chariot from Heaven arrives - source Wikimedia
Yudhisthira with a dog as a chariot from Heaven arrives – source Wikimedia

More proof that dogs have been part of human life before they were even mentioned in written is depicted by art. Plenty of canines decorations are found in temples, mosaics, artifacts, paintings from all over the world.

The Colima Dog

One of the first tangible proofs of human-dog interaction is the Colima Dog, West Mexico, dating to the Late Formative Period (300 BC-300 AD).
Art often represented themes important to the culture: weddings, children’s births, and royal feasts.
Made of terracotta (earth) clay burned in an oven, the Colima Dog shows a hairless dogs symbolizing both life and death themes, through its association with the places where he was found, near food (grains) remains and graves.

Colima Dog -a pot-bellied dog figurine from Mexico, State of Colima, 300 BC - 300 AD, ceramic - image source Wikimedia Commons
Colima Dog -a pot-bellied dog figurine from Mexico, State of Colima, 300 BC – 300 AD, ceramic – image source Wikimedia Commons

Dogs in antiquity: China

I feel I should mention dogs in ancient China because modern dog’s DNA analysis shows that all present dog breeds stem from the grey wolf in China that was tamed around 16 000 years ago. At the same time wild rice was used extensively, agriculture developed and first villages appeared.
Furthermore, the Chinese honored the dogs for thousands of years. Remember that Dog is one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac. People born under this sign are said to be loyal, trustworthy, and kind, qualities often associated with the dog.
There is a lovely Chinese saying translating in:

‘a dog would not mind if its master is poor, a son would not mind if his mother is ugly.’

Chinese proverb

Let’s skip past sacrifices and dogs as a food source.

The Dog from Pompeii

Pompeii was an ancient Roman city near modern-day Naples, in Campania, Southern Italy. It became renowned after Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79, burying the city and its inhabitants in 4 to 6m of ash and pumice. Today Pompeii is a precious, well-preserved archeological site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A dog mosaic was found in “The House of the Tragic Poet” – proof of the Pompeian love and appreciation for canines.

Pompeii -The House of the Tragic Poet - dog mosaic - source Wikipedia
Pompeii -The House of the Tragic Poet – dog mosaic – source Wikipedia

“CAVE CANEM” = BEWARE OF THE DOG

A Roman dog footprint, a Greek pot and a dog cameo

I particularly love this dog footprint on a Roman terracotta, next to a statuette of a dog displayed in Vidy Roman Museum, Lausanne, Switzerland. I think it depicts the human’s affection and longing towards his departed dog.

Dog footprint on a Roman terracotta, next to a statuette of a dog – source Wikipedia

This typical Leagros Group artwork of the 6th century Greek art is striking. And it depicts the close relationship between men, dogs and horses. So much is said with the use of only a few colors.

Riders and dogs, art by Leagros Group, Louvre. Source Wikipedia
Riders and dogs, art by Leagros Group, Louvre. Source Wikipedia

In the Georgian National Museum there is this Roman cameo of a dog. It looks like it is carved in stone with an oval frame hand made out of ceramic and, perhaps, sealed with gold. I love the dog’s playful pose. It tells of his comfortable life. Romans appreciated the dogs for their fidelity. I wonder if the woman wearing this cameo led a happy life.

Did you know that the Greeks were the first to carve stone in relief, in fifth century B.C., the antecedents of cameos? The carving principles they implemented are still in use today.

A Roman cameo of a dog - source Wikimedia
A Roman cameo of a dog – source Wikimedia

Dogs frolicking in The Wedding Feast at Cana

Fast forward to the 16th century and I want to mention The Wedding Feast at Cana (1563), by the Italian artist Paolo Veronese because I got to see it with my own eyes.

The Wedding Feast at Cana (1563), by the Italian artist Paolo Veronese - and some very happy dogs. Source Wikimedia
The Wedding Feast at Cana (1563), by the Italian artist Paolo Veronese – and some very happy dogs. Source Wikimedia

Don’t be out off by its size (70 m², taking Veronese 15 months to paint it – and not alone). It tells a beautiful biblical story of the Marriage at Cana, at which Jesus converts water to wine. Plus there are dogs painted right in the center (it is said the painter himself is the one in white, holding the viola)

The Wedding Feast at Cana. Veronese in white, holding the viola and the two central dogs.
The Wedding Feast at Cana. Veronese in white, holding the viola and the two central dogs.

and one other dog is in the left.

The Wedding Feast at Cana - the dog in the left side.
The Wedding Feast at Cana – the dog in the left side

Notice how Jesus is placed in the center of the wedding feast? The bride and groom are at the left end of the table. Jesus performed his first miracle at Cana, turning water into wine.

Finally, a 16th century book on dogs!

“Lawes of the Forrest” by John Manwood is a book with a full 141 words title. The book was first published for private circulation in 1592. The 1598 edition is the oldest book in the library of London’s Kennel Club—the “biggest library of books about dogs” in Europe.

Book-Illustration of a dog from George Turbervile 1576 Booke of Hunting. Google Books Public Domain
Book-Illustration of a dog from George Turbervile 1576 Booke of Hunting. Google Books Public Domain

Apparently during the 16th century was easier to keep “little dogs”. For greyhounds or mastiffs one needed special hunting license issued by the king! Talk about bureaucracy.

The 1598 edition of John Manwood’s Lawes of the Forrest - about rules of keeping dogs. Source abebooks
The 1598 edition of John Manwood’s Lawes of the Forrest – about rules of keeping dogs. Source abebooks

Gaugan’s puppies and Dogs Playing Poker

We’ll sail past the 19th century “Life with Three Puppies” by Paul Gauguin, inspired by Japanese prints and children’s book illustrations. Just look at those tails!

“Life with Three Puppies” by Paul Gauguin
Life with Three Puppies” by Paul Gauguin

I hope you will have a good laugh at this American artwork that came shortly after Gaugain’s: “Dogs Playing Poker” by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge, 19th to 20th century. Dogs do observe human faces and often copy us – any dog lover knows.

“Dogs Playing Poker” by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge
Dogs Playing Poker” by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge

While other pets and animals have undergone substantial changes in the way they are perceived throughout history dogs have endured the marks of wars and joys alongside humans, as constant companions, protectors and, of course, friends, as we have seen portrayed by the art of various cultures around the world.

I hope you will return to find out more about the way dogs and humans have faced together the many wars of the 20th and the 21st century.

Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg
Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg

My latest book is ‘Silent Heroes’, a highly emotional read, action-packed, a vivid story of enormous sacrifice and bravery that will keep you on the edge of your seat. It is a book extremely well researched, with authentic details and an epic sense of the place. The war and the military involved, Marines and dogs, are described with reverence, as are the civilians caught in the middle of the fire.

Follow this blog:
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