That there was a dog on the mission to kill Osama bin Laden is nothing surprising. Cairo, the Navy Seal canine, was considered. The qualities we admire in our pets—loyalty, a willingness to please, agility, bravery—are perhaps even more pronounced in a war dog. The bond between dog and handler isn’t one of mere love: it’s life and death. Dogs drafted into service spend months training, and in terms of monetary value alone are worth tens of thousands of dollars. They jump from airplanes, enter dangerous buildings (equipped with cameras!), alert soldiers to danger, and sniff out IEDs.
There is something so deeply moving about these dogs that memorials to their service are being erected all over the United States, and there is a movement afoot to create a National War Dog Monument in Washington.
As the war in Afghanistan enters its 12th year, you may want to consider visiting these monuments if you are in the area:
- Riverside, CA: March Field Air Museum
- Ft. Benning, GA: Ft Benning, Museum
- Holmdel, NJ: New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial
- Knoxville, TN: University of TN Veterinary School
- Naval Base Guam: This memorial is surrounded by most of the graves of the 25 dogs listed on the monument. They are credited with saving the lives of hundreds of marines.
In spite of their years of loyal service, it was only in the 1990s that a bill was signed into law in the US allowing military dogs to be retrained as “civilian” dogs.