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Tag: K9 Veterans Day


K9 Veterans Memorial

Today is an especially fitting day to share photos of the K9 Veterans Memorial. Because today is K9 Veterans Day

Established on March 13, it’s the anniversary of the 1942 founding of the United States Army K9 Corps. If you’ve followed my blog for long, you know I’ve recognized K9 Veterans Day several times.

Some background on the K9 Veterans Memorial

Here are two views of the Mark Dziewior dog sculpture at the heart of the K9 Veterans Memorial.
Views of the K9 Veterans Memorial in Fort Atkinson, WI. Mark Dziewior sculpted the bronze dog. The Kennel Club of Fort Atkinson conceived of the project, conducted the fundraising drive, and installed the memorial. Photos are from Facebook.

The K9 Veterans Memorial’s centerpiece is the sculpture Unbreakable BondWisconsin animal sculptor Mark Dziewior created a touching vision in bronze.

It’s in McCoy Park in Fort Atkinson, WI. The local Kennel Club of Fort Atkinson (KCFA) takes their K9 veterans very seriously. 

An honor guard from the Kennel Club of Fort Atkinson attends a ceremony at the K9 Veterans Memorial on March 9, 2020.
An honor guard from the Kennel Club of Fort Atkinson, WI, attends a ceremony at the K9 Veterans Memorial. The photo date is March 9, 2020. (Photo from Facebook)

They not only sponsored the creation of the K9 Veterans Memorial in McCoy Park (dedicated June 25, 2017). A couple of years earlier, they spearheaded an effort to get K9 Veterans Day officially recognized in the State of Wisconsin, in 2015.

A couple of deputies pose by the K9 Veterans Memorial with their K9s.
A couple of deputies pose by the K9 Veterans Memorial with their K9s on March 12, 2019. The men are identified as ED and KC. Their dogs are Friday and Nox. (Photo from Facebook).

A day dedicated to Military Working Dogs

The Kennel Club of Fort Atkinson and a lot of law enforcement handlers and K9s appeared at the Wisconsin Capitol in 2015.
The Kennel Club of Fort Atkinson and a lot of law enforcement handlers and K9s. They appeared at the Wisconsin Capitol in 2015 to gain state recognition of K9 Veterans Day. (Photo from the Kennel Club of Fort Atkinson).

Don’t confuse K9 Veterans Day with National Police K9 Day. That’s celebrated on September 1, according to one of my favorite K9 charities, Vested Interest in K9s

Military Working Dogs face specific challenges and dangers that police K9s don’t. Just like human veterans, some of them retire to pursue law enforcement careers. So it’s easy for a layperson to think they’re basically the same.

And, like law enforcement K9s, today’s Military Working Dogs or MWDs are usually one of a few main breeds. It’s another reason laypersons may confuse them.

Here's another look at the K9 handlers in the Wisconsin Capitol.
Another look at the K9 handlers in the Wisconsin Capitol in 2015. They went to urge recognition of K9 Veterans Day. (Photo from the Kennel Club of Fort Atkinson

Typical breeds for MWDs

The brilliant SEAL Team 6 dog Cairo was a Belgian Malinois. Malinois mixes also make up a percentage of MWDs. They’re not show dogs. The armed forces don’t care about breed standards. So they sometimes create crossbreeds for specific purposes.

People know less about Dutch Shepherds, but everyone knows the versatile, ever-popular German Shepherds.

The Armed Forces also frequently use one of the retriever breeds for scent detection. Labradors are their favorites, but they also sometimes use Golden and Chesapeake.

Trained to do any of a dizzying number of tasks, MWDs’ skills range from single-purpose to a range of tasks required for Navy SEAL or CIA work.

This quote from Susan Orlean says, "Dogs are really the perfect soldiers. They are brave and smart; they can smell through walls, see in the dark, and eat Army rations without complaint."
This Susan Orlean Quote comes from GetintoPC.

How can we civilians honor and help K9 veterans?

We keep awareness alive with installations such as the K9 Veterans Memorial. They help us focus on the issues surrounding retired Military Working Dogs.

And we’ve achieved positive results. Our efforts to recognize these dogs’ gallantry, service, and often immense sacrifices already have caused changes.

The Armed Services still classify them as “equipment.” But since the year 2000 they’re no longer abandoned on the battlefield or euthanized. When they’re too old or traumatized or wounded to serve anymore we bring them home.

Civilian and handler outrage made a difference. Most MWDs are now adopted by a former handler. As I noted above, some have second careers in law enforcement.

But all too many MWDs, like all too many human soldiers, go home wounded and traumatized

This is where organizations like Mission K9 Rescue and specialized programs from groups such as American Humane can forge lifesaving links. If you’re considering donation options, why not make a donation to them?


Many thanks to AKC and Working Dog Magazine for the images used in the header composite.

Honoring K9 veterans

Today is National K9 Veterans Day in the United States. It’s an annual observance on March 13, the anniversary of the date in 1942, when the Army started training for its War Dog Program.

Go to Military Working Dog Adoptions for more information on giving one of these retired veterans a forever home.
This is the header for the National K9 Veterans Day Facebook Page, by graphic designer Chris Crawford.

Chris Crawford, the designer of the National K9 Veterans Day Facebook group’s composite illustration above, added these notes about her illustration:

“The dogs depicted are the Belgian MalinoisDoberman, mixed breed, Labrador, and Husky and, of course, the German Shepherd in silhouette at the bottom. 

The breeds are commonly used working dogs. German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois are the most common working breeds now and in the past. The Doberman was used extensively In WW2, particularly in the Marine Corps, and the Husky and other northern breeds were used to carry equipment and pull sleds in WW2 and during the Cold War. 

The mixed breed dog in the center is Stubby, of WWI fame, but he’s representing all the mixed breeds and unusual breeds used by the armed forces and civilian agencies.”

I thought I should finish off this post with my all-time favorite tribute to Military Working Dogs and their handlers, by Josh Tannehill. You’ve seen it on this blog before, but it bears re-posting!

Image created by Josh Tannehill.

These magnificent animals have no choice in whether they will defend our country and our troops–but they give the full measure of their devotion and provide an important force-multiplying factor. We owe it to them to honor them, and make sure they are well cared for throughout their lives.

IMAGES: Many thanks to Tails of a Foster Mom for the “Honor our Veterans” adoption poster-image, to the National K9 Veterans Day Facebook Page and graphic designer Chris Crawford, for the inspirational composite image with the silhouette, and I am deeply appreciative to Josh Tannehill for the “I am the Sheepdog” image.

Remember K9 Veterans!

IMAGE: Many thanks to Kristen Levine Pet Living for this image. And blessings upon every MWD, working or retired. Good dogs, all!

Never too late to thank K9 veterans!

Well, darn it–I missed it this year. K9 Veterans Day was Monday, on the 75th anniversary of the founding of the US Army K9 Corps. A couple days off or not, however, it seems reasonable to honor the bravery and sacrifices of the magnificent animals who help keep our nation, and its human defenders, safe.

Dogs have been going to war with their humans for millennia, of course. Sergeant Stubby, of World War I fame, was very far from the first, although his story is pretty cool.

So is the story of Rin Tin Tin, arguably the most famous war dog of World War I, thanks to his subsequent acting career.

Rin Tin Tin was a German Shepherd Dog–still one of the most popular breeds for Military Working Dogs.

Dogs for Defense was an American Kennel Club-associated World War II program that slightly predated the Army K9 Corps, and helped supply its need for dogs. They accepted a wider variety of breeds than we commonly see today–including Alaskan Malamutes and Collies.

Today, most Military Working Dogs and law enforcement canines are German Shepherd Dogs, Dutch Shepherds, and Belgian Malinois, chosen for their intelligence, aggressive natures, versatility, and athleticism.

I don’t know about you, but I think it’s interesting that all three breeds were originally developed to herd and protect sheep.

Meet Cairo, the Belgian Malinois who helped Seal Team Six kill Osama bin Laden

The famous Seal Team Six dog Cairo, who helped in the operation that killed Osama bin Laden, was a Belgian Malinois. These dogs, which are slightly smaller and lighter-weight than, say, a German Shepherd, are often favored by Special Forces.

Liaka, shown here on the job in Baghdad, is a Dutch Shepherd.

What’s a Dutch shepherd? They almost didn’t make it through World War II, but now they’re one of the three top MWD and law enforcement breeds.

Like most MWDs who are retrievers, Cobo the chocolate lab is a tactical explosives detector.

I would be remiss if I did not also mention the many retriever breeds (especially Labrador Retrievers, as well as Golden Retrievers and Chesapeake Bay Retrievers), which are especially prized for explosives detection. Occasionally other breeds also show up, from Springer Spaniels to Pit Bulls. The onetime favorite breed of the USMC, the Doberman Pinscher, is far less often found on the front lines today.

Whatever their breed, however, we owe them a debt of gratitude! We can make our thanks more tangible by supporting organizations such as Save A Vet, which make sure that once their military service is finished, these magnificent dogs can enjoy their retirement in a good home.

IMAGES: Many thanks to QuotesGram for the “Veterans” image. I am indebted to Wikipedia for the photo of Sergeant Stubby and the poster featuring Rin Tin Tin. I am deeply appreciative to Josh Tannehill for the “I am the Sheepdog” image.

Many thanks to the Fedhealth blog for the photo of Cairo. Many thanks to Gizmodo’s cool photo essay on Military Working Dogs for the photos of Liaka, the Dutch Shepherd and Cobo the chocolate Labrador. 

And finally, many thanks to Rebloggy’s “Top Tumblr Posts” for the photo of the German Shepherd MWD with an awesome superpower.

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