From the NFRW Armed Services Committee
By Becky Bechtel, Indiana
A lot of things changed for our nation after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Men were drafted into service like never before, women helped build war supplies, and dogs were called into action. Dogs actually started being used in World War I as message carriers, sentries, and other functions, but the ways they were used increased dramatically in WWII.
To be specific, military dogs have saved our lives and have been a huge part of military operations. These dogs are highly trained, and a K9 officer is responsible for the dog and often sleeps with their beloved companion. In “Yorkie Doodle Dandy,” Bill Wynne writes about the tiniest of K9 war heroes: Smoky the Yorkie. Smoky was a World War II hero who served on 150 air raids and five combat missions, and was the first ever recorded therapy dog, helping nurses at military hospitals. There are memorials all over the world for Smoky, including a memorial in the Cleveland Metroparks. This memorial was dedicated on November 11, 2005, with full military honors and 400 attendees. Smoky lies beneath, in a WWII .30 ammo case.
As a result of the heroic duties of dogs like Smoky and so many others, March 13th is now National K9 Veterans Day. As a nation, this is an opportunity for us to learn more about the service of K9 veterans, including the service of various dogs, along with all of the specific types of training the dogs go through. We are indebted to the service of these heroes and as they protect our nation at the side of our brave men and women who serve in the military.