Category Archives: military dogs

How the Bulldog Became the U.S. Marine Corps Mascot

chesty 1By Linda Cole

By the time America declared war against Germany in 1917 and joined allied forces in France, World War One was in its fourth year. The first real test in battle for the United States Marine Corps was the 1918 battle at Belleau Wood. The Germans had advanced to within 50 miles of Paris. Belleau Wood was part of an Allied campaign to push back against the German Spring Offensive to halt their advance towards Paris. The battle raged on for three weeks before the Marines were finally victorious. General Pershing said it was the most important battle fought by American forces since the Civil War. It was during the battle of Belleau Wood where the fighting spirit of the Marines and soon- to-be mascot, the English Bulldog, became synonymous.

According to stories, the Marines fought with such tenacity and valor that the Germans nicknamed the Americans Teufelhunden or “Devil Dogs.” In Bavarian folklore, devil dogs were wild mountain dogs. The battle at Belleau Wood was real, but the German nickname was based on mythology. However, it wasn’t long before a recruiting poster painted by Charles Falls appeared showing a dachshund wearing a spiked helmet and Iron Cross running from an English Bulldog wearing a helmet with the globe and anchor insignia on it. Written on the poster was “Teufelhunden – Devil Dog Recruiting Station.” The poster was embraced by the Marine Corps and the public.

The first unofficial mascot, King Bulwark, was an English Bulldog pup sired by Rob Roy, a well known and famous English Bulldog. Born May 22, 1922, the pup’s royal registered name was quickly changed to Jiggs. Private Jiggs was enlisted into the United States Marine Corps at a formal ceremony on October 14, 1922 by Brigadier General Smedley Butler.

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The Dickin Wartime Medal for Animal Heroes

Dickin_MedalBy Linda Cole

Throughout history, heroic humans have received medals for their courage and valor, especially in times of war. During World War II, a woman in Britain felt that animals used during wartime should receive distinction for their service as well. She created the Dickin Medal, Britain’s highest animal award; it’s given to animal heroes worldwide in the service of their country for their loyalty, outstanding gallantry and devotion to duty.

Maria Dickin lived the comfortable life of British high society. The shabby living conditions of the poor in London’s East End were far from the exquisite dinner parties and social gatherings of the wealthy. Like many well-to-do women of her time, Maria occupied her days doing charity work. One day, her work took her to the poor section of town. She was shocked and appalled by the overcrowded living conditions and disease surrounding her. However, it was the plight of animals living among them that caught her attention. Horses and donkeys were thin and crippled from hauling too many heavy loads. Sickly looking goats and rabbits were crammed into ragged backyards. Hungry cats and dogs had severe leg injuries, mange and other assorted ailments. Maria saw many animals in need of medical attention, but their destitute owners had trouble feeding their families and couldn’t afford medical care for pets or work animals.

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Today is K-9 Veteran’s Day

By Julia Williams

“They served to save, and they deserve to be remembered.”

Did you know that March 13th is K9 Veteran’s Day in many cities and states across the U.S.? It’s true. A movement was started by Joe White, a former military dog handler, to recognize the efforts and sacrifices of our canine heroes. The quote above is their motto.

During Joe’s time in Vietnam, he saw canine heroes perform many vital tasks that no human could. He witnessed firsthand just how valuable these dogs were to our troops and how much they contributed to keeping our soldiers safe.

Many of these courageous canines lost their lives to protect and serve, but their only place of remembrance, until now, was in the hearts of the soldiers. Joe’s home state of Florida was the first to proclaim March 13th as K9 Veteran’s Day.

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Smoky – The Tiniest War Dog of WW II

By Linda Cole

Smoky was a stray Yorkshire Terrier who found herself lost in the jungles of New Guinea during WW II. This bright eyed, brave little Yorkie would go down in military history as a “champion mascot of the Southwest Pacific,” war hero and therapy dog. Smoky garnered so much positive attention that she is credited with giving new life to her breed, which was on the brink of obscurity, and making the Yorkshire Terrier one of the most popular breeds today.

An American soldier found the scruffy looking Terrier in 1944 in an abandoned foxhole deep in the jungle. How she got there was anyone’s guess. The soldier wasn’t a dog lover, but he rescued Smoky and gave her to a sergeant who worked in the motor pool. The sergeant needed cash to get back into a poker game, so he sold the cold, wet and half starved little dog to Corporal Bill Wynne for $6.44.

Wynne and Smoky bonded almost immediately, and for the next two years she rode in Wynne’s backpack around the South Pacific, and spent the rest of the war going on combat flights with him. Wynne was attached to the 5th Air Force, 26th Photo Recon Squadron. Smoky wasn’t an official war dog, and didn’t have access to a proper diet or medical care. She slept with Wynne in his tent, and shared his rations. She was a hardy little dog, however, and despite her living conditions she never got sick or injured.

Smoky was so small – no more than four pounds, and seven inches tall – she could fit inside Wynne’s helmet. He didn’t know it at the time, but her small size is how she would earn her war dog reputation. American troops landed at an airfield in February 1945. Afraid the Japanese were planning a counter attack, Wynne’s recon unit needed to set up communications with headquarters to call for reinforcements, if they were needed. The problem was that cables had to be strung underneath the runway without tearing it up. Digging up the runway would mean 40 war planes would have to be moved, exposing them to enemy fire. It would take 3 days to accomplish their task.

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Paintings of Animal Heroes


By Sue Hains

In the winter of 2009 – 2010, I was commissioned to paint a picture of Freddy, an FBI dog who had been killed in service. In preparation for working on the portrait, I was sent a photo of Freddy but required other pictures of Belgian Malinois, Freddy’s breed, since some details in his photo were unclear. Searching online, I began to learn about service animals and discovered that Belgian Malinois are often chosen to become Military Working Dogs and police dogs. As I painted, I received emails about Freddy’s life, death and memorial service, and thought more and more about the life of this heroic animal.

Freddy was born in 2007, and served with the FBI from September 8, 2008 to October 28, 2009. The FBI had raided a warehouse being used as a mosque in Dearborn, Michigan, looking for several of its members who were wanted for a number of crimes. The Imam, who had a criminal record and refused to surrender, shot the FBI dog, Freddy, before the Imam himself was fatally shot by agents. Freddy was helicoptered to a veterinary hospital in Detroit, and although the doctors did everything they could to save his life, the wounds were fatal.

At his memorial service in Virginia, local police motorcycle officers escorted Freddy’s flag-draped casket to the FBI Academy, where the FBI Chaplain gave a moving invocation and where K-9 Police Officers and their dogs stood at attention behind a large crowd which included the veterinarians who tried to save his life. Other speakers followed and it was said that Freddy not only fit in with his team but also saw the humans as his pack!

The brass plaque added to the portrait I painted of Freddy reads:


February 17, 2007 – October 28, 2009
Then I heard the voice of the Lord
saying, “Whom shall I send?  And
who will go for us?”  And I said,
“Here am I.  Send me!”
Isaiah 6:8

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The Military Working Dog Foundation

By Langley Cornwell

Stories and photographs of soldiers bravely serving our country move me. Many of the stories depict another type of soldier, the four-legged type. The U.S. Military has been using working dogs to help defend our country since World War I. In fact, brave canine soldiers were used in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. The U.S. War Dogs website estimates that these amazing military heroes saved more than 10,000 lives during the Vietnam conflict alone.

A quote on the U. S. War Dogs website says it all: “The capability they (Military Working Dogs) bring to the fight cannot be replicated by man or machine. By all measures of performance their yield outperforms any asset we have in our inventory. Our Army (and military) would be remiss if we failed to invest more in this incredibly valuable resource.” – GENERAL DAVID H. PETRAEUS, USA. 9 February 2008

While that’s impactful and inspirational, there comes a time when these military dogs are released from serving our country and must find a forever home. These dogs are at various stages in their lives; some are young dogs who didn’t meet the training standards of the military K-9 boot camp, some are older dogs that have completed their tours and it’s time for them to retire from service, and some are dogs that have been medically discharged from service due to sickness or injury that interfered with their ability to perform their mission. In all of these cases, the dogs need to find a safe and loving place to live out their years.

That’s where The Military Working Dog Foundation gets involved. This 501c3 non-profit organization’s mission is to help the Department of Defense Military Working Dog Center find suitable homes for our four-legged soldiers after their period of service to our nation.

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