Cry havoc…

Since the time of Greece and the Roman Empire, the dog has been a valued and trusted member of the military. The Romans used a breed of Mastiff that is now extinct. Then, they covered their canines in armor with spiked collars and used them to wreak havoc on their enemies.

The use of military dogs by the United States was largely an unknown to the general population until a Belgian Malinois named “Cairo” was thrust into the spotlight after the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan by US Navy SEALs.

But the use of military dogs goes far back from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The first well-known military dog was SGT Stubby who was a stray Bull Terrier that was adopted by the 102nd Infantry Regiment of the 26th Infantry Division (The Yankee Division).

Stubby was smuggled on the troop ship to France but quickly proved his worth. He could warn the troops of impending poison gas attacks, could hear artillery shells coming before human ears could detect them, he could find American wounded in no man’s land and even caught a German prisoner, grabbing the enemy by the seat of his pants and holding him until the soldiers made him a prisoner.

Stubby met three US Presidents, marched in numerous parades and even received a half-page obituary in the New York Times when he died in his sleep in 1926. But dogs have been used in every conflict since the Revolutionary War, but only officially used since World War II.

Today the training and use of military dogs are extensive and there are a few thousand serving in the armed forces. Many of them are in harm’s way in the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, among other hotspots and they’ve proved invaluable.