Dogs of War

by Tracey Walshaw

War Dog memorialI am so proud to live in a free country protected by our brave men and women of the Armed Forces.

I’ve discovered that our canine friends have also served in war time. Actually they still serve alongside our brave troops! We are all familiar with dogs that work with our police or sniff out contraband and bombs. There are search dogs and guard dogs, so it makes sense that their special talents and loyalty would be used in combat situations.

I have mixed feelings, just as I do watching our young men and women board a plane to go overseas into dangerous situations.

Dogs served in the military all the way back to 628 BC, up through the Roman’s fighting years and Napoleon’s wars. By the way, Napoleon was reportedly afraid of dogs, especially the little one his wife Josephine had as a pet and who was prone to bite the little general. The Belgians had the magnificent Bouvier des Flandres at their side during battle. There are canine heroes from both World Wars and the Vietnam war as well.

In historical battles dogs served as mascots, sentries, fighters, carried messages, scouted and tracked/detected. Our Canadian Peacekeepers have canine comrades to help prevent insurgency, infiltration and sabotage. However, the US troops use their canine military members for intimidation, bomb detection and law enforcement in active combat situations.

The dogs that have given their lives in service are honoured with memorials. In the States there is a war dogs association that ensures these loyal comrades are never forgotten. Dogs that retire from service continue to serve in civilian life as sentries, detection dogs, trackers, scouts, search & rescue or mascots. And some live the easy life as pets or therapy dogs.

Read more on dogs in service on these sites: