Articles by Val Bonney
First written 4th November 2010
What do I mean when I use the term WAR DOGS? Are these dogs bred for fighting. Are they just dogs who love to fight. Neither. What I mean by using this term is "dogs who are recruited by the Forces to work in war torn areas".
Over many years, many dogs have been trained, and handled by our Service Personel and very little attention had been given to these wonderful canines, who have in many areas ,given the ultimate in Service to their Country. Their very lives.
They have been trained as Tracking Dogs, Sniffer Dogs, Attack dogs, and Bomb Dogs. The saddest part is that those dogs trained as Tracking Dogs in Vietnam ,were not always able to be brought home because of (among other things) our quarantine laws at that particular time (Have been changed over recent years) I don’t believe it is widely known that many of the handlers of these particular dogs, remained in Vietnam after the war to be with their dogs, and those that did have to leave their dogs behind, still speak about them with warmth and care to this very day.
The bonding that the handlers get with their WAR DOGS is the greatest thing you can ever witness. Our soldiers rely very heavily on their Canine Companions for their very lives, and it is often not only their lives, but the lives of many others.
I write this because in June 2010 in Afghanistan a Bomb Dog (trained to seek out Bombs) and his handler, plus another Sapper all gave their lives when the unstable bomb/mine exploded before it could be defused. IMPORTANT for you to understand here, the dogs do not defuse the bombs. They are trained to find it then to let their handlers know where it is, and then highly trained army personnel defuse the devise. The dog is normally well away from the area once he has alerted his handler to the bomb/mine.
This dogs name was 'HERBIE' a cross Kelpie/Huskie. This dog was a treat to watch him work. He loved his job,and his handler and never hesitated to do the thing he loved most which was to work at what he had been trained.
When he was here in Brisbane he was a great success with the public when he and his handler gave displays at the barracks. He was a very photogenic dog, and always gave the camera his biggest smile. He was a huge success with children and all others always, but when his harness went on, it was the signal to "Herbie" that it was time to work.
Herbie was loved by all he came in contact with and it really showed in how much esteem he was held, when a Plaque was presented in his honour on Friday 29th October, 2010, to the home Herbie had before joining our forces.
Herbie came from an animal Shelter. He needed to work and it showed. The Army gave him the home the training, and life he so badly craved.
The plaque and a photo of Herbie and his handler was presented to the Shelter as a Memorium not only for Herbie but for all those dogs who over the years had given the ultimate in service to the community.
The respect and regard in which Herbie was held showed, when the Army was well represented by a Major, a retired Lieut Colonel, President of the War Dogs Assoc., two of the army handlers who had only been home from Afghanistan for a week, a Private from the Malay conflict who was a dog handler at that time, a representative of our own C.C.C., a Councillor from the Moreton Shire Council, the President of the Shelter, Volunteers from the Shelter and members of the Shepherd All Star Demo Squad and Bonnies Dog Obedience, who actually donated the plaque.
May I conclude by saying , lets not forget our wonderful Canine Friends who do so much. Lets make ourselves more aware of what they do.
REST IN PEACE 'HERBIE'. LIE WITH YOUR HANDLER AND HIS BUDDY. And in the words by Johnny Cash tell us all what you feel. I’ll walk the Line says it very aptly I think.
Val Bonney (Canine behavioural Specialist / International Trainer - author of Who’s the Boss? and Are you still the Boss?