Honoring War Dogs

Today, as we honor our nation’s veterans, we’d also like to pay tribute to our canine heroes. In the United States, military dogs, or “war dogs” have supported combat missions since as early as 1917. Also known as “The Quiet Americans,” war dogs have helped alert our soldiers to enemy presence, identified hazards such as chemicals or bombs, raised troop morale, and saved lives. In this post, we’re going to share the story of three of our nation’s most famous war dogs, but we honor all of those amazing creatures that have served our country and supported our soldiers. Learning about these guys is sure to make you stand and salute on this Memorial Day! Plus, we’ll show you how you might have an honorary war dog right under your nose!

Stubby was a Boston Bull Terrier, known as the most decorated war dog in American history. Stubby was a rescue puppy, and had an immediate positive effect on morale while training for combat on the fields of Yale University. He served in World War I for 18 months and participated in 17 battles. After his successful bout in service, Stubby retired and became a celebrity dog marching and leading parades across the country. The first American War Dog Hero, Sergeant Stubby died April 4, 1926.

Stubby with General Pershing after World War I.

Stubby with General Pershing after World War I.

Smoky is the smallest known famous war dog. She (that’s right, a female soldier) was a Yorkshire Terrier who served in World War II. An American soldier who sold her to Corporal William A. Wynne found Smoky in an abandoned foxhole. She then spent the next two years as an unofficial war dog, serving with Wynne who shared a bed and his food rations with her. Smoky served in the South Pacific, flew 12 air/sea rescue missions, spent long hours in high temperatures near machine guns used on enemies and never once fell ill! After the war, Smoky entertained millions and became a national sensation performing tricks. “Corporal” Smoky died unexpectedly on February 21, 1957.

Smoky on Biak Island copyright, 2014 WIlliam A.Wynne

Smoky on Biak Island copyright, 2014 WIlliam A.Wynne

Nemo A534 was a German Shepherd who served in the United States Air Force. Nemo served in the Vietnam War and is known for his heroic life saving tactics when saving his wounded handler from enemies until help arrived. In the process of his heroic feat, he lost one eye and suffered a gunshot wound to his snout. Thankfully, Nemo recovered from his injuries and returned home where he was given a permanent retirement kennel at Lackland Air Force Base. Nemo continued working on the base as a recruiting dog until he died in December 1972.

Does your dog have war dog qualities?

Dogs have such fine qualities that make them exceptional team members both in our homes and in the military. They have senses that are superhuman! We all think our dogs are the brightest and smartest, especially me! I have a Yorkie-Poo mix who is the best thing since sliced bread! But how does she stack up to a trained war dog? Check out the war dog qualities below, does your dog share qualities of war dogs like Stubby, Smoky and Nemo?

  • Able to work on a short leash

The shorter the leash, the better!

  • Taught to give warning of potential strangers by growling, alerting or barking

Unfortunately, my dog does this all too well!

  • Valuable and able to work in the dark

I’ve caught my dog sneaking into the pantry at night!

  • Able to work in silence to aid in the detection of enemy forces

Yup! Can silently get to the pantry!

  • Has superior intelligence and a quiet disposition

When she wants to! 

  • Can detect the presence of the enemy at distances up to 1,000 yards (long before we’ve become aware of them!)

She always notices squirrels before I do!

  • Exudes loyalty

Without a doubt!

  • Motivated by the desire to work with two handlers

Listens to Mom and grandma best!

  • Trained to search for objects in obscure places

Somehow she always finds the hidden treats!

  • Trained to alert on the scent of chemicals used in explosives

Does alerting me when my cooking smells really good count?