We here at sit-stay-play love to share interesting pet-related things, books included, and this one I just finished reading was one heck of a read! Since my life revolves and dogs and pet, I’m a sucker for books ABOUT dogs, especially books about Military Working Dogs. MWD’s fascinate me. Behind all their training and focus, they’re dogs, just like mine and yours, well…sort of…
The author, Maria Goodavage, does an awesome job researching how canines were used in the military back in the day, and how they’re used today. With a focus on their roles, duties and relationships with other comrades, David Petraeus, Former Commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan said it best,”The capability they bring to the fight cannot be replicated by man or machine.” That’s a pretty grand statement if you ask me.
This book exposes some of the inner workings of MWD training and how their handlers are trained also. If you’re interested in these types of things, get this book!
Stories abound regarding relationships between handlers and soldier dogs, here’s one from Vietnam:
“Robert Kollar was a handler with the Fifty-eighth Infantry Platoon Scout Dog Unit in Vietnam during 1968-1969…According to the Vietnam Dog Handler Association, there were fifty-two dogs named Rebel who serviced in Vietnam. Few fates are known but at least five were killed in action, four were put down because of their injuries, one retired, and one died of heat stress. That was Kollar’s dog, who died three weeks after Kollar, who was a sergeant, returned home.”
At the writing of this book, forty-three years had passed since Kollar worked with Rebel, but he’s never forgotten. He has fifty or so photos and mementos in his bedroom and eight or nine show Rebel. His collar and choke chain are mounted.
For Kollar, “Rebel is always around.”
To see pictures of Kollar and Rebel, visit www.k9writer.com. One page is dedicated to handlers and dogs from different wars.
There’s tons of other stories that I could share with you from this book but I wouldn’t do them justice, but here’s one more surprising one featuring Napoleon Bonaparte from the Battle of Castiglione in 1976:
“…During the battle, Napoleon came across a dog mourning a dead soldier. The loyal dog sat by the solder’s corpse after everyone else had fled. He was groaning and licking the soldier’s hand, then trying to draw Napoleon to the soldier’s side.
The scene deeply affected the emperor, who wrote about it during his long exile:
No occurence of any of my other battlefields impressed me so keenly. I halted on my tour to gaze at the spectable and reflect its meaning…This solderi, I realized, must have friends at home and in his regiment; yet he lay there deserted by all except his dog…I had looked on, unmoved, at battles, which decided the future of nations. Tearless, I had given order which brought death to thousands. Yet here I was stirred, profoundly stirred, stirred to tears. And by what? The grief of one dog.”
Feel free to share your thoughts with us about this book if you’ve read it, we’d love to start a dialogue. If you’ve been a MWD trainer and feel like talking about your experiences and your relationship with your dog(s), awesome, leave us a comment. Have another book you think we should read, tell us.
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