Happy Memorial Day Weekend everyone. The following is a post I wrote four years ago. I established this blog in 2010 while writing my book Dog’s Best Friend: Will Judy: Founder of National Dog Week and Dog World Publisher (McFarland-July 2014). Long before the US Military utilized trained War Dogs, Judy educated Americans about all the ways dogs served humans militarily and therapeutically.
This holiday weekend, I hope everyone can find something meaningful and relevant to contribute to this weekend of remembrance. Here is a relevant article with a link to The United States War Dogs Association, Inc., in New Jersey. Thank you. http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/03/04/seen-at-11-horrors-of-combat-may-affect-military-working-dogs-as-well-as-owners/
I am really looking forward to the book’s debut this summer, it’s been a long, hard road but, I’ve learned so much from all of you. I hope you enjoy this “rerun!”
Last year, the Friday before memorial Day, I subbed as a Fourth Grade teacher. The subject of the holiday weekend came up, and I asked the class what Memorial Day meant to them. Answers varied, but mostly the responses included, beach going, pool openings, sales at the Mall, and catching the newest Blockbuster. This is the generation that wasn’t even born when 9/11 occurred, and have little knowledge of what is going on around the world. Later, a father of one of the kids, a marine just back from the Mid-East spoke at an assembly. One kid asked, “Who is it we are fighting, exactly?” The father thoughtfully grappled with an answer, but couldn’t say exactly. His honesty was admirable.
Memorial Day weekend reminds us to pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifices for their country, but many people aren’t aware of the important role dogs have played in our military history. During WWI, while European forces were already training canines to be official members of the war effort, a pit-bull mix named Stubby was paving the way for the future of American military dogs. Stubby, smuggled overseas by his owner, became a vital player in WWI, on and off the field. He received several honors, and medals, and was even promoted to Sergeant.
For those who haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend the documentary War Dogs of the Pacific. Produced and directed by Harris Done, it tells the amazing story of the bond that formed between a platoon of young marines and the dogs that were trained to serve them during WWII. I happened to catch it on the Military Channel. During that war, many “ordinary” dog owners donated their beloved pets to the war effort. Many never saw their dogs again, and soldiers, who became deeply attached to their dogs, had to relinquish them to their original owners at the war’s end. Many of these soldiers telling their first-person accounts have powerful memories of those events. Be prepared to be profoundly moved by their stories. If you have any doubt about how a dog can help a human, it will vanish.
In 2009, Harris Done was presented with the Captain Arthur J. Haggerty Award from the Alliance of Purebred Dog Writers. The honor was presented by the Captain’s daughter, Babette Haggerty during the activities surrounding the 133rd Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Captain Haggerty, who passed in 2006, was a great supporter, and promoter of Captain Will Judy’s National Dog Week Movement that was established in 1928 in an effort to honor the nation’s dogs, especially those military canines.
Stories like these keep me motivated to write about how dogs really do make a huge difference in lives, on so many levels. Each day, someone new arrives on the scene with intriguing ideas, and information that keeps me inspired. Did you know that the patriotic Will Judy suggested that the pit bull be named the Yankee terrier? Perhaps they would have fared better in our society.
Thanks for reading…Have a good and thoughtful weekend, and be safe!