With Memorial Day upon us, we take time to remember those who have given their lives serving our country. Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day, a day to honor those who have served in the military, both those living and those who have passed.
The earliest recorded documentation of dogs being used in warfare was in “Stratagems in War”, written in the second century A.D. by Polyaenus, a Macedonian author. According to Polyaenus’ writings, the Cimmerians went to war with Alyattes of Lydia during the sixth century B.C. He described the Cimmerians as men of “great bodily size”. Alyattes had his men march forward with large, fierce dogs. The dogs attacked the Cimmerians and the men either fell with wounds, leaving them unable to fight or retreated from battle, unwilling to fall victim of the dogs.
Dogs are still used in war, however they have proved to be much bigger assets than just attack dogs in battle and simply on the field. While on the battlefield, they have saved lives in a number of different ways. The dogs who served as messengers, guards, sentries, and scouts, all risk their lives but have qualities that make them able to do the job with more efficiency than their fellow soldier could. Dogs played a part in helping the wounded by being ambulance dogs and Red Cross casualty dogs.
Dogs serve another unique role in war that humans and technology will never be able to replace. The horrors that many of the men and women see in battle will never be able to truly be expressed in an article, a book, a picture, or a video. Words can try and explain it and pictures can bring a flood of emotions, but the soldiers are the ones who were there and it is something that only a fellow soldier could relate to. From the horrors of trench warfare in World War I to the horrors our troops see now, dogs can provide a psychological comfort, even if it is just for that moment. When a soldier misses their spouse or children, has lost fellow soldiers in combat, the unconditional love and affection that dogs give can be a unique and significant way to lower stress in soldiers.
This week will host a series of articles about the roles dogs played and play in modern warfare. The series will include
- Dogs of modern war, part 2: WWI
- Dogs of modern war, part 3: WWII and the Dogs for Defense
- Dogs of modern war, part 4: WWII in the Pacific Theater
- Dogs of modern war, part 5: Korean War
- Dogs of modern war, part 6: Vietnam War
- Dogs of modern war, part 7: War on Terror
- Dogs of modern war, part 8: Memorials honoring canine soldiers
When available, articles will include links to the next in the series. If you want the articles sent directly to when they are published, you can subscribe by clicking here or you can subscribe using the link under the article title.