Important to us


I just put up a new page at my Foundation’s website with topics of special meaning. Named “Important to Us” it will be the place where I delve into varied topics, dog and non-dog related.

My first new topic is about WAR DOGS and includes my review of military dog historian and author, Mike Lemish’s, new book on military working dogs, entitled, Forever Forward: K-9 Operations in Vietnam.

Jessica Ravitz, a CNN reporter, has a great article about War Dogs [War dogs remembered, decades later], which should be read in its entirety. It includes some powerful stories, especially that from Fred Dorr, now president of the Vietnam Dog Handler Association.

Maybe it was the sound of the wind cutting through the wire. Perhaps he caught a small vibration with his keen eyes. Or it could have been a slight difference in the air’s smell. Whatever it was, when Sarge noticed that his Marine Corps handler, Fred Dorr, was creeping down the wrong path in the Vietnam jungle, the German shepherd did something he’d never done out in the field: He looked at Dorr and barked, before taking a seat.

“When he sat down, I knew there was a trip wire. I was one step away from it,” remembered Dorr, who with his dog in 1969 was “walking point,” leading the way for a dozen soldiers. Had the hidden explosive device been tripped, “It would have gotten half of us.”

. . .

For Dorr, of the Vietnam Dog Handler Association, this has been a blessing. He said leaving his partner Sarge behind, all those decades ago, haunted him. “A lot of us [handlers] suffered PTSD,” he said, referring to post-traumatic stress disorder. “It’s like leaving your kid back there.”

But he now has Bluma, the war dog he adopted from Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. The German shepherd, who has hip problems, looks uncannily like Sarge, he said, and having him around is a source of comfort. “I’m taking care of an old vet,” Dorr said, “and he’s taking care of me.”

Whatever it was, when Sarge noticed that his Marine Corps handler, Fred Dorr, was creeping down the wrong path in the Vietnam jungle, the German shepherd did something he’d never done out in the field: He looked at Dorr and barked, before taking a seat.

“When he sat down, I knew there was a trip wire. I was one step away from it,” remembered Dorr, who with his dog in 1969 was “walking point,” leading the way for a dozen soldiers. Had the hidden explosive device been tripped, “It would have gotten half of us.”

For Dorr, of the Vietnam Dog Handler Association, this has been a blessing. He said leaving his partner Sarge behind, all those decades ago, haunted him.

“A lot of us [handlers] suffered PTSD,” he said, referring to post-traumatic stress disorder. “It’s like leaving your kid back there.”

But he now has Bluma, the war dog he adopted from Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. The German shepherd, who has hip problems, looks uncannily like Sarge, he said, and having him around is a source of comfort.

“I’m taking care of an old vet,” Dorr said, “and he’s taking care of me.”

Dogs have long served with the U.S. military, said Lemish, who also wrote “War Dogs: A History of Loyalty and Heroism.” During World War I, the dogs borrowed from the French and British worked as messengers and assisted the Red Cross by finding the wounded on battlefields, he said. The American K-9 corps, Lemish said, really began during World War II, when, among other tasks, thousands of dogs donated by civilians patrolled shorelines.

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