Dogs have been stalwart human companions for thousands of years - they share our joys, sorrows, homes and lives, and increasingly, they’ve been following us into battle as well.
The story of Cairo, the Belgian Malinois who joined the U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden in May, 2011 is now world famous. But Cairo is just one of the roughly 2,700 military dogs deployed around the globe – 600 of which serve in combat zones. America’s military dogs sniff out bombs, rappel from helicopters and provide much-needed companionship for soldiers in harsh circumstances… and the story of these valiant dogs is also the story of their handlers, who pair with a specific dog for their tandem tour of duty.
Former USA Today journalist Maria Goodavage was already the author of three previous dog-oriented books when she decided that the story of these four-legged warriors needed to be told. The result of her boots and paws-on-the-ground research is “Soldier Dogs: The Untold Story of America’s Canine Heroes.”
There is a different kind of battle going on in congress over the classification of America’s soldier dogs, as lawmakers debate to decide whether or not to promote these dogs’ classification from “equipment” to "Canine Members of the Armed Forces."
Should our military dogs receive benefits for their service? How do dogs help human soldiers cope with the stress of war?
Maria Goodavage, author, "Soldier Dogs: The Untold Story of America's Canine Heroes"