In December 1967 U.S. soldiers were attacking a North Vietnamese base camp in Vietnam. As it began to get dark, they dug in anticipating a night counterattack. Lieutenant Morris settled into his foxhole when King, their German Shepard war dog, jumped into the hole on top of him. Just then Morris needed to relieve himself. But he couldn’t move King – he was heavy, wouldn’t budge, and the hole was too small to move him to the side. As a result the Lieutenant had a “very distasteful accident” with the dog lying on top of him. Immediately after that, King decided to leave for another hole that was less stinky. Apparently the risk of moving out of shelter was a better than staying with the smell.
You’ve probably heard of cadaver dogs, which search for recently deceased victims of disasters. But what about deaths that happened 1000’s of years ago? Enter Fabel, the archeology dog. Fabel is a German Shepard that is used to detect buried bones. Makes sense, as dogs and buried bones go together. But for this type of work special training was required, and Fabel received his archeology dog certificate in 2015. Since then has assisted finding skeletons in dig sites in Europe. Recently he located human remains at a 5th century Viking fort in Sweden.
Metro Phoenix ranks number 2 in VA home loan originations in the U.S. That means lots of veterans are moving to or buying homes in the Valley of the Sun. This demonstrates the continuing popularity of Arizona to the U.S. armed forces community (and their dogs).
On December 4, 1966, Nemo and Airman Bob Thorneburg were on patrol near the company’s airbase in Vietnam. The two came under enemy fire and the German Shepherd took a round to his eye and Throneburg was shot in the shoulder. Despite his wound Nemo attacked the enemy, giving Throneburg the time he needed to call in reinforcements. After Throneburg fell unconscious, Nemo crawled on top of the soldier’s body to protect him from harm. The dog didn’t let anyone touch his fallen handler; it took a veterinarian to remove Nemo when things quieted down. Nemo and Throneburg both recovered from their wounds, and Nemo received a honorable discharge due to his injury.
No I’m not talking about the old movie or TV show – MASH is the Maricopa County Sheriff Office Animal Safe Haven Unit. MASH cares for, rehabilitates and re-homes animals from abuse and neglect cases. Currently located inside the First Avenue Jail, Arizona inmates provide the care, which provides animal therapy and teaches them animal welfare skills. MASH has outgrown the jail, and a new facility is envisioned that will hold 100 dogs and 200 cats. The Phoenix Suns Charities have generously provided $500,000 towards a building fund that will allow the MCSO to expand this rescue and rehabilitation effort. To learn more about MASH and donate to the new building fund, visit www.mcsomash.org.
After the events set forth in my Kurt the Doberman blog, the Marines declared Guam secure after three weeks of fighting in 1944. But some 8,000 Japanese soldiers remained, hidden in the jungle. The war dogs were asked to find them. “That’s the worst fighting you can get into,” said a former Marine. “You can’t see the enemy. You can’t hear them. You can’t smell them. But the dogs can.” So at the front of nearly every mission to hunt down the Japanese hiding on the island was a war dog and its handler. Dogs led more than 500 patrols on Guam and due to their skills prevented many costly ambushes. One of those missions was detailed in Dobermans in Action in the Pacific, Part 2, where a Marine was bitten by an over stressed Dobie. Read these past Doberman stories and all my previous blogs at simplysoldaz.com/blog.
Chips was a German Shepherd-Collie-Siberian Husky mix in the American army during WWII. During the invasion of Sicily in 1943, Chips and his handler were pinned down by an Italian machine-gun. Chips broke from his handler and jumped into the Italian pillbox, attacking the four gunners and forcing them to surrender. In the fight, he sustained a scalp wound and powder burns when a bullet grazed his head. Later that day, he helped take ten Italians prisoner. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star and the Purple Heart, and met both President Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. But when he met General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Chips bit him on the hand! Later his medals were revoked because it was decided that animals can’t be awarded “human” medals. But in 2018, Chips was awarded the Dickin Medal, the highest award for valor an animal can receive.
Did you know that dogs were first in space? While remembering the anniversary of the U.S. landing on the moon, we should give credit to the dogs that paved the way for manned space flight. The Soviet Union was the first to use dogs in orbital flights to obtain the data necessary to prepare for astronauts in space. The first canine cosmonaut was Laika, meaning “barker”. She was a canine hero following that achievement, appearing on stamps, postcards and souvenirs. Her successors were Belka and Strelka, the first dogs to successfully return safely to Earth. Laika’s story is told in Laika’s Window: The Legacy of a Soviet Space Dog, described as a “remarkable and haunting story….a moving tribute to the mutually beneficial bond between man and dog.”
In the ancient world, dogs were thought to have knowledge of medicine. It was noted that dogs elevate an injured leg, just like Hippocrates (the father of medicine) prescribed for injured limbs. And dogs know to lick their wounds to ensure they will remain clean and to speed healing. As a result, dogs were featured in the temples of Asclepius (the god of medicine in ancient Greece), to help heal visitors by licking wounded areas. This ability is also recounted in the New Testament parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke, where the lesions of Lazarus were licked by dogs. And the ancients saw dogs eating grass when they had an upset stomach, which most dog owners today have observed. So besides being your best friend, dogs can help you get better!
Antis is the only dog who officially was allowed to fly with his master in World War II. He was found as a just weaned German Shepherd puppy in no-mans land in France in 1940, after his future master crashed landed near the locked home he had been abandoned in. From there they were inseparable, with Antis becoming one of the smartest dogs ever. He learned commands in minutes, and seemed to anticipate the needs of his air force buddy. But his unwavering devotion got him in trouble when his master went on a date, and Antis broke out of his home, ran to the train station, hopped a train to the right town, and found his master on the street. He never wined or complained even when wounded multiple times during his airborne duties. Following the war he received the Dickin Medal, the highest award of honor an animal can receive. The latest book about this life and adventures is The Dog who could Fly by Damien Lewis.