War dogs have altered every aspect of dogs as we know them today. They have influenced the winning of wars, and ultimately, affected countries powers’ and borders as they stand today. War dogs have been used for direct combat, messengers (before electronic communications), detection, and as walking weapons. They naturally filled the role as companion and compadre to the men and women training, caring for, and fighting with them.
The ultimate sacrifice goes back thousands of years. Ancient civilizations bred large, powerful, and highly specialized dogs to serve as warriors. One of these breeds, known as the Molossur Dog, was a killing machine. Weighing in at 300-400lbs, he was fitted with spiked armor and deployed in groups to attack the enemy. I can’t imagine the terror.
Boxers are believed to be a descendant of the Molossur dog! At a historical attraction in Rome, Italy you can find a to-scale statue of this impressive dog. The power is captivating. Fortunately, these dogs have been bred down (in size and temperament) but the relics of ancient wars dogs exist among us today in our popular bully type breeds such as the Boxer and English Mastiff.
The training of military dogs has become highly specialized. MWD’s are the elite of the elite. Very few dogs are cut out for this type of work. No pet dog would survive for a day under the environmental stress that a MWD endures as routine. With costs reaching $150, 000 per dog, research and training methods have undergone great scrutiny and are making great advancements.
When soldiers come home they may have a new type of warrior on their side; a Service Dog. Veterans suffer visible and invisible wounds and Service Dogs are here, once again, making history doing what they do best. Service dogs assist veterans in a variety of ways from retrieving dropped objects to helping break social barriers, bringing light into an otherwise dark reality.
Support our fallen heroes, humans and animal, by recognizing the ultimate sacrifice so many have made.
Katie Weibel, Master Dog Trainer. Providing training for companion, service and working dogs, sharing knowledge and expertise.