When we think of war dog heroes, what usually comes to mind is the German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever and Belgian Malinois who have served our country with such dignity and grace.
Not only are they trained for combat but they have also been used as scouts, sentries and trackers. I was surprised to find that in history there were two out of the ordinary four-legged war heroes; Sgt. Stubby and Smoky.
Sgt. Stubby was the only dog to be given the rank of Sergeant. Stubby, an American Pit Bull Terrier was found as a stray on the Yale campus then smuggled into France during World War I. While serving our country Stubby participated in 17 battles. Due to a dog’s finely tuned senses, he was also able to alert the troops of poison gas attacks, incoming artillery gunfire and he could locate injured soldiers on the battlefield. He peacefully passed away in his owner’s arms in 1926.
Smoky, a Yorkshire Terrier, was also originally found as a stray in New Guinea. He served with our troops in the Pacific during World War II. He participated in a dozen combat missions and survived over 150 air raids. She was able to use her sense of hearing to warn her troop of incoming artillery shells. One of her most famous feats was pulling a telegraph wire through a very narrow 70-foot pipe which saved the lives of civilians from enemy fire. Smoky passed away at 14 years of age.
This Memorial Day weekend, as we remember the soldiers who have served our country, take a moment to also remember our four-legged heroes whose acts of heroism should not be forgotten.
And if you are a military family looking to adopt a pet, please check out the Pets for Patriots program at the Verde Valley Humane Society. We take great pride in placing shelter dogs and cats in loving military homes.