You may be surprised to learn that the newest recruits in the war against Iraq are dogs! Yes, canine and furry, our four legged pals are doing some very brave work in the midst of perilous times.
Dogs are serving right along with our troops, in both Iraq and Afghanistan, as they are excellent in detecting explosives during the war front. They can sniff out roadside bombs up to a third of a mile away, and are becoming increasingly in demand as the fight against terrorism continues. They are also unwaveringly faithful to their handlers, and many have risked their lives in order to protect their fellow soldiers. When many soldiers are wounded, their thoughts turn to the dog who was wounded alongside them- gives new meaning to the term, â€œManâ€™s Best Friendâ€, doesnâ€™t it?
As you can imagine, Iraq is no picnic for a dog, and a dog that has earned soldier status is no exception. The dry heat of the sun makes it hard for dogs to thrive, and they are also casualties of roadside bombings, gunfire, and other weapons of warfare.
In fact, youâ€™d be amazed at how soldiers become bonded with the dogs that serve with them. When a dog becomes wounded in war, he or she is often whisked away and treated with expert care. They may even enter a rehabilitation process before they can return to the line of fire and serve again. Dentists may even be called to help save damaged teeth and perform root canals.
Just like any other soldier, dogs must undergo vigorous physical training before they are allowed to serve in combat. Training takes place at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. At first, they are trained to become accustomed to the loud noises commonly associated with war. Next, they learn how to detect the scent of explosives, and how to stop before reaching them.
As you may imagine, German Shepherds are one of the leading breeds used in combat, but another is the Maliniois. Maliniois are a variation of the Belgian Shepherd Dog. In addition to the shepherds, there are other breeds that are being trained. Poodles are also used to help find explosives and are particularly useful for detecting things in small areas, due to their small size.
Typically speaking, dogs fare very well in combat. Right now, only ten dogs have been killed in both Iraq and Afghanistan combined. However, the rate of injuries is much higher. However, the desert heat, not combat, causes the number one cause of injury. Additionally, it isnâ€™t uncommon to see dogs wearing bulletproof vests or other protective gear while they are on the field. The dogs are trained to wear these items, however, due to the desert heat, it can place an additional burden on the dog, and so most dogs may go without them.
It is truly amazing how dogs are serving in the war with soldiers. However, this isnâ€™t the first time they have been called to combat. Dogs served in the Vietnam War, World War II, and World War I.