Friday, June 19, 2009

The 4th of July, Independence Day, is quickly approaching. It is on this day we often reflect on our forefathers and the wars fought by our country to secure our independence.

The 4th stirs images of our brave service men and woman who fight to keep America free. But did you know that our four-legged friends filled important rolls in our wartime history as well? The Red Cross deployed dogs which helped to save the lives of thousands of US soldiers!

During World War I, the United States first put dogs to work. These dogs were used for three types of service: ambulance assistance, messenger service and sentry detail. Today, we will take a close look at what special skills ambulance assistance dogs provided to wounded soldiers around the globe.

Ambulance assistance dogs, known as sanitary dogs (or “Sanitatshunde” as they were called by the Germans) sought out wounded men in the field while ignoring all others. Often, medical supplies and small canteens of water or spirits were attached across the dog’s chest or in a saddle bag to provide the men with basic essentials until additional support could arrive. For mortally wounded men, these dogs provided their dedicated companionship in the soldier’s last moments.

In the early stages of the war, dogs were trained to enter the field and retrieve the helmet or an article of clothing of a wounded soldier. Later in the war, training was modified to encourage the dogs to return from the field and lay down if no wounded were found or to alert the handler if medical support was needed. Even more remarkably, these dogs were trained to never bark as such barks would draw enemy attention and possibly fire.

Facing many obstacles (slip trenches, barbed wire, chemical gases and gun fire as a few examples) many Red Cross Dogs worked under the cloak of night relying only on their sense of smell and keen agility. These incredible dogs set some astonishing records. A French dog named “Prusco” found more than 100 men after a single battle!

The Red Cross also used dogs for transportation of wounded soldiers. Using specially designed two-wheeled carts, large breed dogs weighing more than eighty pounds would pull wounded soldiers onto the carts and transport them from the front lines to aid stations in more secure areas.

These draft dogs held huge advantages over horses and motorized ambulances. Their low profile and ability to work independently meant a horse and rider would not be exposed to enemy fire where they were easy targets. Motorized ambulances risked breakdowns, required gasoline and had difficulty negotiating rough roads cratered by heavy artillery fire.

I hope that this Independence Day you will all take a moment to contemplate the great accomplishments of these dogs and the thousands of lives they saved. Tune in next week for part two of “Fleet-Footed Messengers”.

Dear Mom and Dad!

Can you believe I’ll be celebrating my 11 month birthday on Saturday? I am growing up and learning so quickly. One of my favorite exposures so far as been the beach! I love to splash in the water and then try to bite the water that comes up in the air! I also LOVE to retrieve! Here’s a picture of me at the beach after having fun in the water and at the beach on official business wearing my pretty blue coat. I’m not sure if I get these qualities from my Mom, Nikki, or my Dad, Pete. I sure would like to know! Love, Legacy J

Julie "The Viszla" looking for a little attention. She is in our Maternity Ward awaiting the arrival of her and Henry's Puppies. Best of Luck to Julie!!

Please e-mail photo's of your Breeder to for our Breeder Photo of the Week Contest.

Meet Tony. He is the son of Joey and Lucy. Tony was born on November 7, 2007. Tony was raised by Pat Stone. Tony is a very confident dog and has quite a way with the ladies. Tony enjoys long walks and playing with his friends. He is being hosted by his puppy raiser, Pat Stone. We look forward to seeing his puppies in the future.

Meet Libby. She is a yellow Labrador born on November 7, 2007. She is the daughter of Joey and Lucy. Libby was raised by Theresa and Keith Maisel. Libby is an energetic, intelligent dog who is eager to please. While here at Southeastern Guide Dogs for training, Libby stole the heart of her trainer, Marisa Gerlach. When asked about Libby, Marisa commented, " Libby was the "Track Star". She loved to pogo beside you in the field, as you are running.
We are very excited to have this rising star in our breeding coloney.

Meet Sunny! She was born on August 8, 2007. Sunny was donated to Southeastern Guide Dogs by Barbara Ladner, a breeder in Perkinston, MS. Sunny is the daughter of Twinponds Second to None and Sumo's Jazz'd Up at Riverchase. Sunny is a very sweet girl. She likes to take slow walks and receive lots of love and attention from her human companions. She was raised by Kim Gilchrist who will also be her Host Family. Sunny will make a great addition to all of our loving "moms" here at Southeastern Guide Dogs.