During WWI, Lee Duncan was a U.S. army corporal stationed in France. On September 15, 1918, he was on patrol when he spotted a dog kennel heavily damaged from a recent bombing raid. Convincing his battalion to change course so they could check out the kennel, Duncan was surprised to discover five newborn puppies and their mom still alive. The pups and mother were rescued and taken back to camp, but only one puppy survived. We know him as Rin Tin Tin, a movie legend who showed the versatile, adaptable and loyal character of the German Shepherd dog.
The German Shepherd is a fairly new breed that was developed mostly during the 1900s. The breed originated in Germany as a top notch herding dog. German breeder Captain Max von Stephanitz wanted a herding dog that was capable and intelligent, with a good work ethic. In 1899, he mixed early versions of shepherd dogs to come up with the Deutsche Schaferhunde, the German Shepherd dog. Standard for the breed was written in 1901. The first dog in the United States was imported in 1907 and shown in the open class at Newcastle and Philadelphia dog shows.
The dog that von Stephanitz developed turned out to be not only smart and adaptable, but had many talents that were discovered during WWI. The Germans put the GSD to work as a war dog. Allied forces took notice of these versatile dogs used by the Germans, and were equally impressed with the breed. German Shepherds were used as Red Cross dogs, supply carriers, guard dogs, tracking dogs, sentinels and messengers.