Military service dogs provide an important contribution to our armed forces and the protection of our country. They are our silent heroes. In my earlier article, As Veteran’s Day Approaches – A Look at Military Service Dogs, we reviewed their service historically and touched on one of their modern day duties – sentry. This article further explores the invaluable contributions of our military service dogs.
Messenger dogs must travel in silence and use the terrain’s natural cover to go from one handler to another. Although loyalty is an important quality in all military working dogs, messenger dogs require more. When a dog works with two handlers, loyalty becomes an even more important quality.
Dogs with patrol/scout duty must not only have the skills required for sentry dogs (warn, work in the dark, accompany a guard, and guarding), but in order to detect ambushes, snipers, and enemies within the area, they must work in silence. Only the brightest with a quiet demeanor can handle this duty.
Patrol/scout dogs can detect enemy presence long before humans become aware of them – up to 1,000 yards. This dog alerts to the enemy in the following ways:
- It stiffens its body,
- pricks its hears,
- raises its hackles, and
- holds its tail rigid.
The presence of these service dogs not only boosts morale, but significantly decreases the risks associated with ambush.
Mine detection dogs also referred to as the “M-Dog” locate booby traps, trip wires, nonmetallic and metallic mines.
This duty was a specialty required in Vietnam. The Vietnam Cong tunnel dwellers caused the death of many of our military. They were difficult to locate until tunnel dogs were trained to find and explore these tunnels.
Just as search and rescue dogs are trained, so are casualty dogs to search for casualties and report those in obscure places. Time is of the essence in cases of hemorrhage or severe shock and every minute counts in a life or death situation.
Explosives detection dogs detect and alert to the chemical scent used in explosives. Their highly acute sense of smell makes them ideal for locating explosives regardless of how they are packaged. In our fight against the War on Terrorism, it is critical to locate explosives hidden in a vehicle, on an individual, or on the roadside and there is no other member more qualified to assist than this service dog.
Military service dogs serve our military, our veterans, and our country well. While these first two articles explore the duties they provide, the next will look at the preferred breeds for these duties. If you have had first hand experience with one of these amazing dogs, please share… .
GOD BLESS AMERICA!!
Newton, Tom. “K-9 History: The Dogs of War!” Hahn’s 50th AP K-9.
http://www.uswardogs.org/war-dog-history/types-war-dogs/, US War Dog Association | National Headquarters, Types of War Dogs