Dogs are unfailingly devoted, attentive, intelligent, energetic, and eager to please. Okay, some are more of the above than others. But even the sluggish or slow-witted among canines define themselves in terms of their relationships to humans, and that alone is service, pure and simple.
This week the first National Military Working Dog Monument was dedicated in San Antonio. A granite pedestal features the U.S. military’s four most often used working dog breeds since World War II: Doberman pinscher, German shepherd, Labrador retriever and Belgian Malinois. (Link)
Lt. Gen. James Holmes, Air Education and Training Command vice commander said, ”As a nation we owe our war dogs a tremendous debt of gratitude. Their selfless service, loyalty and sacrifices to our country must never be forgotten. The U.S. Military Working Dog Teams National Monument is a treasure for us all to ensure they are honored and remembered forever.”
This AP report tells the background story of veteran military dog handler John Burnham’s decade-plus campaign to make this monument a reality. His story is very compelling, and the recognition is long overdue.
Enslow Publishers, 2010
SERVICE DOG HEROES, by Linda Bozzo, is one of many examples of titles featuring remarkable dogs doing even more remarkable things to serve their human partners. At 48 pages, including photo illustrations, text features, and engaging non-fiction text, this is a non-traditional picture book that has something to offer every age. These are not military service dogs, yet the training, temperament, and chemistry required of them is comparable. Their life-saving roles may not be on the battlefield, but are no less heroic and admirable.
Bearport Publishing, 2008
Another book that is sure to win young hearts and minds is DOG SCOUTS OF AMERICA, by Shelley Bueche and Chris Puhls. Another photo-rich selection, the information inbcluded here is likely to have readers searching for more information about this organization in their own communities.
"Young readers will learn all about Dog Scouts of America, an organization dedicated to enriching the lives of dogs and their handlers. From encouraging owners to play sports with their four-legged friends to promoting dog participation in charity events, Dog Scouts of America's goal is to help dog owners get to know their pets better so that dogs can have more fulfilling lives. Filled with real-life stories about Dog Scouts around the United States, this book is sure to please all dog lovers." - (Bearport Publishing Co., Inc.)
National Geographic Early Chapter Books
An early chapter book, COURAGEOUS CANINES and more True Sotires of Amazing Animal Heroes, by Kelly Milner Halls, uses more extended text to share the story of Lilly, the rescued pit bull shelter dog. Lilly in turn rescued her owner from an oncoming train. Rich with side bar content about the often abused and misunderstood breed, this is a great book to recommend for kids hooked on stories about the incredible accomplishments of dogs and other animals.
In truth, whether trained for military service, disability support, or as a family pet, each dog-human partnership is a monument in itself. Their mutual devotion attests to the equal (and even superior) contributions dogs are capable of making to our work, our relationships, and to then richness of our lives.
The video embedded in this news article (link)has been viewed by millions, but on the off-chance that you haven’t seen it, take a look. Dogs and service are a great match, it’s true. But dogs and the people they love are at the heart of that service. What are some of your favorite dog books, fiction or non-fiction?