You’ve heard the expression “Dog is man’s best friend”. Dogs in the military truly live up to that and more. Known as MWD’S (Military Working Dogs), these highly valuable teammates have saved many soldiers’ lives. In the book, Dogs on Duty by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, the reader is privileged to witness the training and working of these incredible dogs.
An amazing photo awaits the reader in the first pages. It is a soldier and his dog jumping from an aircraft over the Gulf of Mexico during training. The Special Forces, such as Navy Seals, are only one branch of the military that uses dogs as members of their teams. MWD’s are now a part of all the service branches. With amazing photos and hero stories, this book is of high interest for young people as well as adults.
Dogs have been used as vital partners in the United States war effort since World War I when they served as Red Cross dogs. They sought out the wounded and brought them aid as well as serving as messenger dogs. As messenger dogs, they bravely dodged through the trenches to deliver critical information between command posts and the front. It wasn’t until the Vietnam War, however, that the military realized all the ways a dog’s powerful senses could be used to protect troops from harm.
What breed of dog is best suited for this career? The Belgian Malinois is a fine athlete, quick to learn and eager to please. Also favored are the Dutch Shepherd, German Shepherd, and the Labrador Retriever. However, any type of dog showing promise is welcome to serve. From the time they are three days old, puppies start training for their very important job. The intense training that these dogs go through is covered in this book.
A highlight is stories of individual dogs who have served with such heroism and valor; although any dog serving in the military is a hero. Personally, this book touched me as my own brother served in Vietnam as a dog handler. Only in the past few years has he been able to tell us of his experiences there, and his great trust and companionship in his lifesaver, his dog.