With the execution/assassination of bin Laden dominating the news, rumors have surfaced that a dog was part of the team sent in to dispatch the world most wanted terrorist. No government officials have confirmed or denied this, but it remains a possibility. If a canine was involved in the operation, it could have served several different roles. The dog could have been sent in to search (improvisationally) for people or explosives inside the compound, or it could have been a â€œcombat tracker,â€ a dog trained to track down one person after being exposed to their scent, particularly useful if bin Laden had escaped the compound on foot during the raid.
Needless to say, these guys are pretty badass in whatever capacity they are used, of which there are many. Hereâ€™s a rundown of images that reflect the role of dogs of war in modern and earlier times.
12. Gas Mask Dogs
As we will see in this list, dogs of war are subjected to the exact same dangers that human soldiers are. As such, they require, in many instances, the same equipment that their masters get. So yeah, that means doggie gas masks.
11. Doggie Goggles
Yeah, and doggie goggles. This dog has forgotten more about being cool in the past five minutes than you will ever know. Unfortunately, there is only so much that can be done to outfit dogs with the same protection afforded human soldiers, so they are left more susceptible to injury than the soldiers are. As you will see further in this list, there are remedies available.
Stubby was the most decorated dog of World War I, having served with 102nd infantry for 18 months, serving in over a dozen battles. He got some glory for his efforts, unlike many of the human soldiers he served with. Stubby was invited to the White House and â€œmetâ€ President Coolidge in 1924.
9. War Dog Cemeteries
War dogs are, for all intents and purposes, soldiers. They retire with fanfare and recognition, and are afforded military funerals regardless of whether or not they are killed in action, buried in specified cemeteries like the one shown above.
8. Bomb-Sniffing Dogs
While dogs have long been used to search for explosives, they have found themselves to be more indispensable than ever in modern warfare, aiding soldiers in finding less conventional IEDâ€™s in urban environments. The dogs are trained extensively to recognize the smells of many accelerates and explosives.
This guyâ€™s name is Andy.
7. Skydiving Dogs
Yup. This happens. However the soldiers enter an area, so do the pups. When conventional conveyance isnâ€™t available, the dogs will go airborne. They could survive the fall themselves but itâ€™s more comforting to the soldiers (not to mention the dogs) to perform tandem jumps. Just in their deployment alone, theyâ€™re exercising way more courage than the average person displays in their life.
6. Mine-Sniffing Dogs
The United States Army maintains the largest collection of mine-identifying dogs in the world with over 200. This represents over half of the dogs in the world that are trained to detect mines.
5. Lookout Dogs
While most dogs of war are known for tactical functions, like explosive detection, many also serve more strategic purposes, like this Doberman that stands guard while its master sleeps. Should the dog sense any disturbance, it will wake its master to alert him. Not unlike when your dog barks when thereâ€™s someone at the door. Just WAY deadlier.
4. Transport Dogs
While not quite as glamorous as some of the attack dogs, in earlier times, dogs served as transport for goods and weapons, like this cannon. This photo was taken in WWI as this dog afforded transportation to these weapons and the soldiers that fired them. They could go most anywhere the soldiers could and were able to keep a lower profile than their upright counterparts.
3. Wounded in Action
Of course, these dogs are putting themselves in harmâ€™s way every time they step onto a battlefield or into an area of strife. Consequently, they occasionally get wounded by the same hazards that present themselves to human soldiers. Because of the dangers, and the respect that the Army demonstrates for its canine soldiers, veterinarians are staffed among large groups of dogs of war to treat any injuries they may sustain in the line of duty or during peacetime.
Much as we have monuments to remember the soldiers killed during wartime, the armed forces have established memorials for people to pay their respects to the dogs and other animals that have made sacrifices in the name of their country. Obviously, they arenâ€™t given as desirable a location as those for human soldiers, but they do exist and are open to the public. This oneâ€™s in Pennsylvania.
1. Attack Dogs
And of course, since before the days of the Romans, the dogs have been used as weapons. Lacking the fear and self-awareness that humans have, a dog will not hesitate to put itself in harms way if it feels either itself or its master is in danger. I canâ€™t imagine that looking at the business end of a German Shepherd killing machine is a pleasant experience. I have no idea how this soldier looks so composed. I would be crying.