The Dogs of War

by Kris Phillips

This Memorial Day it’s important to take a few moments away from the Summer fun to reflect on those who’ve given all in defense of their homes, ideals, and loved ones. The dogs of war never volunteer but serve just as valiantly and sacrifice just as much. Military War Dogs (MWD’s) are the often forgotten casualties of war. The use of dogs in battle goes back to the ancient Romans, Persians, Egyptians and Greeks among others. In fact, nearly every great military throughout history has employed canines in varying capacities. 

Ambulance Dog-Courtesy of Wikipedia

Ambulance Dog-Courtesy of Wikipedia

Throughout history dogs have been used mostly for tracking, intimidation, and security. However some dogs were employed on a mission of mercy. They were sent into the field of bodies to find those who were still alive and bring them water. They would also return and lead their handlers back to those who might still be saved. WWI & WWII dogs were mostly volunteered by their civilian owners and returned home after the war.


It’s rumored that in Vietnam, War Dogs may have saved as many as 10,000 lives by finding mines and alerting their handlers to enemy approach. But the 2000 dogs who survived the war itself were deemed “excess military equipment” and were mostly left behind when US forces pulled out. The abandonment left a gaping hole in the lives of the men who had to leave their companions behind. It was the lobbying of these broken-hearted men who brought about change in how war dogs are handled when the fighting is over. 

In 2000, legislation was changed to allow retired war dogs to be adopted out instead of euthanized. These dogs didn’t volunteer, but they served valiantly none-the-less and deserve a life after war. MWD’s are well trained and make great pets so if you’re looking for a way to help honor them check out Perhaps the best way to remember the fallen canine heroes is to better serve those who follow in their paw prints.


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