All Things Dog

Soldiers And Dogs

The dogs left back home

The continued withdrawal of American troops from Iraq and Afghanistan has thrust dogs into the spotlight of the evening news and the world of viral videos. Not just any dogs—these are the loyal, can't-wait-for-master-to-come-home pets that soldiers left behind when they were called up for service. And if there was ever any doubt that dogs have enduring memories and a sense of longing, these stories put them to rest. It's no wonder that videos like this and this (and don't forget this one), have been seen by millions on YouTube and the evening news.

But what was life like for those dogs while their owners were overseas? Some were lucky enough to stay at home with family members who remained stateside. However, some dogs needed foster families to care for them in the interim. That's the job of the organization Guardian Angels for Soldiers Pets. Their mission is to support the men and women who serve by finding temporary homes for their pets. It's reassuring for people in the military to know that, while they are halfway around the world, their dear pets are being cared for back in the United States by loving families.

Once the soldiers are reunited with their pets, it's time for the dogs to do one of the great things that make dogs so amazing: help their soldier—owners heal from the emotional toll of serving in wartime. This is the type of real-life situation in which family dogs, by virtue of their devotion and love, perform like their specially trained brethren—the canines we call "therapy dogs."

The dogs that serve

The broad category of service dogs—which includes seeing-eye dogs, dogs that assist handicapped people, police dogs, and therapy dogs—also includes dogs that serve. These are specially trained "soldier dogs" that share military responsibilities with the men and women in uniform. These combat-tested professional canines perform a wide range of duties, some of which are highly specialized. These include sniffing out bombs and crowd control. But above and beyond those specific jobs, they also provide loyal and loving companionship for their human counterparts.

Bringing them back from the front

The bond between soldiers and soldier dogs is deep and lasting, which is why many homebound service men and women attempt to adopt the dogs they've worked with on the front lines. Red tape and high expenses can make these stateside reunions difficult. A scan of the newspapers each week reveals stories that range from the touching to the tragic.

While serving, soldiers also become attached to the local dogs they find and raise. And, they inevitably discover, bringing these dogs to the United States is no easy task. The soldiers behind Operation Bring Blanco Home even started a PayPal account to help raise the necessary funds to transport Blanco from Afghanistan to Arizona.

The SPCA's Operation Baghdad Pups is a related effort that rescues dogs from intolerable conditions in Iraq for a better life in this country. A recent blog from the organization states, "Operation Baghdad Pups just wrapped up our 111th mission to Iraq, saving 17 more dogs from a certain life of pain and suffering had we not gotten them to safety in the United States."

The first soldier dog

During World War I, American soldiers serving in France could be seen saluting Sergeant Stubby. There's nothing unusual about saluting a higher-ranking officer, but Stubby was a dog. Stubby's owner, a soldier named James Robert Conroy, smuggled his beloved pet aboard the transport ship SS Minnesota, which is how this remarkable dog came to serve in the trenches. Stubby helped lift the morale of his human soldier buddies during a grueling 18 months at the front. Among his feats of heroism, Stubby warned his comrades of poison gas attacks and, thanks to his keen hearing, was able to locate wounded pals in the no-man's land between the trenches. No wonder he was saluted by appreciative soldiers of every rank.

It was during World War II, however, when the United States military officially began a canine program. The success of that initiative was the foundation for the continued use of dogs in combat. Today, we don't even think twice when we hear about the heroism and moral-building power of military dogs. It's become a matter of routine, something we take for granted. But it's worth pausing for a moment to consider how vital dogs have become to us in our daily lives, whether we're soldiers or civilians. From the backyard to the battlefield, the human-canine connection is stronger than ever.

Recommended For You

Not on Facebook? You can register by clicking below.

Sign up on this site
We just need a little information.
All fields required.
FIRST NAME
PassedFailed
LAST NAME
PassedFailed
EMAIL
PassedFailed
A confirmation e-mail will be sent to
the address you provide here.
PASSWORD
PassedFailed
password must contain between 6 - 10
characters, no spaces.
ZIP CODE
PassedFailed
This will help us provide you with information
that's specific to your area.
Yes, I'd like to receive updates and special offers from PEDIGREE® Brand. You can withdraw this consent at any time.
Check if you'd like to give permission for future special offers and additional useful information from Mars, Incorporated. (We will collect the information you've entered here, store and process it in the U.S.) You can withdraw this consent at any time.
Go to last step >
Privacy Policy. We will never share your information.
Thanks for the information. This is the final step.
To get personlized special offers and alerts, enter your
information below:
EMAIL
PassedFailed
STREET ADDRESS
PassedFailed
CITY
PassedFailed
STATE
PassedFailed
ZIP CODE
PassedFailed
Get Special Offers and Updates on Your Mobile Phone
This is the convenient way to get the latest info when you're on the go.
-
-
PassedFailed
Providing your mobile phone number is optional. Msg & Data Rates May Apply
Submit >
Privacy Policy. We will never share your information.
All information will be sent to the mobile phone number you provided:
MOBILE PHONE #
-
-
PassedFailed
You can also sign up by sending a text: PEDIGREE to 97979

Msg & data rates may apply. You will receive up to 4 text messages per month. For HELP, please text HELP to 97979. You must be the account holder or have the authorization of the account holder to request this text service.

This text service works on on Alltel, Appalachian Wireless, AT&T, Bluegrass Cellular, Boost, Cellcom, Cellular One, Cellular One of East Central Illinois, Cellular South, Centennial Wireless, Cincinnati Bell, Immix Wireless, Nextel, Revol Wireless, Sprint, Unicel, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon Wireless, Virgin Mobile, and West Central Wireless. This is a subscription service. You can cancel your subscription at any time by texting a STOP to 97979. Terms & Conditions apply. For support, call 1-888-782-2180.
PLEASE ENTER THE CODE DISPLAYED TO VERIFY YOUR REQUEST:
Terms: I have read & agree to the Terms & Conditions.Failed
Submit >
View our Privacy Policy.
Now that you're registered, you can subscribe to our free e-newsletters. There's one for every stage of your dogs life.
Puppy Planning E-Newsletter > Puppy Scoops E-Newsletter > The Feed E-Newsletter >
Close x Subscribe Now
Look to receive your coupon by mail within the next 10 - 15 days. We hope you enjoy our best Dry Food ever.
Puppy Planning E-Newsletter > Puppy Scoops E-Newsletter >
Dog Knows E-Newsletter > Healthy Living E-Newsletter >
Close x Subscribe Now
Or log in to the PEDIGREEĀ® website using the fields below
EMAIL
PASSWORD
Having trouble with your password?
Click Here
Forgot your password?
No problem. If you originally registered on our website, just enter your information below and we'll e-mail your password.
EMAIL
Password sent
Your password has been sent to the e-mail address you provided.
We're always happy to be of assistance.
Close x