Offtopic a little, This Memorial Day, also remember our Dogs of War

Posted ImageBy Cesar Millan
This Monday is Memorial Day, when many of us will spend a nice long weekend with our families hanging out at the beach, having a picnic in the park, or grilling in the backyard. School’s almost out and summer’s almost here. Sometimes in all the fun, it’s easy to forget why we have this weekend in the first place—because so many of the ones we love are not here to enjoy it.
Memorial Day began after the U.S. Civil War to honor the fallen soldiers. The last Monday of every May has been observed ever since to remember the men and women who gave their lives to protect our freedoms. I myself give great thanks to these amazing people who have made the ultimate sacrifice, and I would include in my gratitude the working dogs of the military.
Posted ImageSergeant StubbySince ancient Egypt dogs have been used during times of war and for other military uses. In World War I, they were used to deliver messages between units behind the lines. One of these dogs, Sergeant Stubby, became the first dog to be given a military rank, and received a national medal for his service. Dogs became used more and more in conflicts. Over 5,000 dogs served in Vietnam alone. They had a large presence in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; and Cairo, a Belgian Malinois, joined Navy SEAL Team Six in the attack which killed Osama bin Laden.
Dogs have been able to provide valuable services to the military. With their powerful noses and compact sizes, they are able to accomplish things humans cannot. Their keen hearing makes them excellent sentries. Our men and women in uniform can sleep soundly knowing that their canine comrades will alert them if danger approaches.
Dogs are able to use the same skills they use at home as police dogs. They are able to track scents, detect bombs, and find bodies. They also can be used as scouts, going ahead of the humans in their unit to look for enemy combatants, explosive devices, or other dangers that might wait for them.
Dogs have become such important parts of the unit, that army psychologists say that when the unit loses a canine member, the grief in the rest of the unit can be as great as when a human member is lost. Dogs and their handlers become so bonded, that often upon discharge they live out their civilian lives together. Other soldier dogs transition to military hospitals upon retirement where they can serve as helpers or companions to the injured.
Posted ImageMany people might feel sorry for the dogs, who obviously don’t have much choice in the matter. They don’t join ROTC or go to a recruiting office. However, I’ve always believed that dogs who have a purpose thrive. Whether it’s herding sheep, leading the blind, or aiding the police, these dogs live fulfilling lives. Dogs have always bonded with humans and the bond that is formed in wartime is very powerful for the dogs and the humans.
This is not to say that these dogs don’t face the same issues that their human counterparts face. Many dogs have to deal with the constant stress of being in the field and the workload can burn many of them out. Dogs also experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which only now is being studied and treated and they often face great obstacles adjusting to a civilian life.
I was honored recently to be asked by the U.S. military to help out an Alaskan National Guard K-9 unit that was being used to sniff out bombs on the supply route between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Unfortunately that trip had to be canceled due to security concerns, but I hope to have the opportunity to work with military dogs again in the near future.
These dogs have saved countless human lives, sometimes at the expense of their own. They are often the line in front of the front line. And often, they are the first casualties. For every hero like Sergeant Stubby or Cairo, there are thousands of dogs whose names we’ve forgotten, or never knew, who have given their lives so their human comrades could live.
I hope everyone has a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. It’s a great time to be outdoors with your family and your dogs and enjoy the blessings our country has been given. I hope you all take a moment to remember the brave women and men who have given us this gift. And when you play fetch or throw a Frisbee with your dog, I hope you remember all the dogs that gave their lives so that you can.
Stay calm and assertive, Cesar

JUST LOST MY BELOVED OLD MUTT, ALMOST 17 YRS SHE WAS!..A TERRIER MIX..WHAT A LONG LIFE....JUST LIKE US WITH OUR ACHES AND PAINS OF PSA...WHAT A TROOPER SHE WAS....FOR THE LAST FEW MONTHS SHE WAS WEAK, STUMBLED, AND SOMETIMES FELL IN THE KITCHEN, BUT DIDN'T GET HURT..GOT RIGHT BACK UP

THE LAST FEW DAYS OF HER LIFE SHE REFUSED HER ARTHRITIS MED, AND I REALIZED WHATS WRONG WITH HER WAS HER BACK LEGS. THE NIGHT BEFORE WE TOOK HER TO THE VET..SHE COULD NOT GET UP, DRAGGED HERSELF A FEW FEET, TO BE WITH ME, IN THE LIVING ROOM..HER FRONT LEGS WORKED

wE CARRIED HER TO THE CAR THE NEXT MORN, AND THE VET SAID, OLD AGE, SHE WAS ALREADY BLIND FROM CATARACTS, WE KNEW

THE NERVES IN HER LEGS, MUSCLES JUST GAVE OUT, SHE TRIED BUT SHE COULDN'T STAND UP OR WALK ..I HAVE FOND MEMORIES OF ALL THESE YRS.

AND THE DOGS CANNOT TELL US WHATS AILING THEM..I HAVE 2 MALE DOGS, THAT MUST MISS HER. THE LAB MOURNED HER BADLY IN HIS OWN WAY. I THINK HE REALLY SNIFFS ME GOOD, NOW WHEN I COME HOME, TRYING TO PICK UP A SCENT, IF I WENT TO VISIT HER SOMEPLACE

AND HE HAS AN ANTERIOR LIGAMENT PROB IN BACK LEG, HE CAN'T GET A KNEE REPLACEMENT, LIKE ME..AT 12....HIS TIME IS LIMITED, LABS DON'T LIVE AS LONG AS MY TERRIER DID, TILL 16

AND WHAT A AFFECTIONATE DOG HE IS

HE GETS TRAMADOL, AND DOGS COULD ALSO TAKE PREDNISONE, WONDER WHAT ELSE OF OUR MEDS THEY COULD TAKE..HE TAKES A DOG NSAID

AND I HEAR, THAT DOGS, GET A LOT OF RESEARCH DONE TO THEM, BEFORE THEY USE IT ON HUMANS

thanks for the post TKRlady ;)

tkrlady, Thank you for this post. For all our service dogs do for our soldiers, we need to do more for them. Paypal has something where when you buy on them, you can donate to the service dogs fund. Excellent cause. And the article was great. For instance, I didn't realize service dogs could get PTSD. Makes sense, since they seem to feel every bit as much as we do.

And I'm deeply sorry about your terrier mix. How they give and give to us, and we think we can fix them up forever, and then one day, we simply cannot. It hurts so bad when they reach that day. Sending you HUGS!!! for the loss of your dog. It sounds like you cared for him very, very well, even in his old age. Lucky, lucky him. Okay, gotta stop, gonna cry...

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Hi tkrlady,

Thanks for your post. I saw a program on TV last year that posed the idea that the human race could not have survived and adapted as it did without dogs. I believe it. Each group from working to sporting and all the others, have their own niche to fill in supporting humans. We don't give them nearly the respect they deserve.

I am sorry for the loss of your pal. I just lost my Sheltie, Maggie, a few weeks ago. She had very similar problems--had arthritis and spondylitis, lost the use of her rear legs. We carried her around for months and worked so hard with the vet trying to work things out for her and help her be more comfortable. It's hard, and it leaves an empty space in our hearts. Sounds like your pet had a good family. Thanks for sharing your story.