Dogs are heroic in our everyday lives. But they’re also heroes in military service.
March 13 is recognized nationally as National K9 Veterans Day because on that date in 1942, the US Army began training for its new War Dog Program, also known as the “K-9 Corps.”
But in case you’re looking for some K9 Veterans Day trivia, meet Sgt. Stubby, the first dog ever given rank in the US Army. Sgt. Stubby, a short brindle bull terrier mutt, earned one wound stripe and three service stripes in World War I. General John J. Pershing (a human), commander of the American Forces in Europe noted Sgt. Stubby’s “bravery under fire” as he pinned a gold medal to his jacket during a ceremony in 1921.
The story of Stubby is inversely proportional to the length of his tail and can be found well documented here. He played the role of mascot, comforter to wounded soldiers and capturer of a German soldier.
He’s even credited with saving an entire unit from a gas attack when he sniffed it out and woke up every member of the 102nd by running up and down the trenches, barking and biting the soldiers to wake them up.
But he’s not alone. Or even the first in the field. Dogs have served as battlefield companions all the way back to ancient times. They were part of Attila the Hun’s conquests and are shown in etchings dating back to the 600’s B.C.
Sled dogs have been employed to haul munitions, lay communication lines and even transport wounded soldiers. Jack Russells are used to chase rats out of trenches. Sheep dogs stand guard. Airedales are noted messengers. The list goes on. And no doubt they are all worth more than their weight in medals when it comes to boosting morale. So, thank you to everyone who has served in all branches and especially our bravest friends on four legs.