Monday, July 6, 2009

Last week we talked about the ambulance dogs of World War I and their incredible commitment to wounded soldiers in the field.

This week we will focus on Fleet Footed Messenger Dogs.

The battles of WWI consisted of trench warfare and extensive stays in fixed locations. Communication between camps came by way if telephone or by soldiers running with messages. But when communication broke down or when the trek was too treacherous for human messengers, fleet footed messengers were sent instead.

These dogs, donated to the United States from our French and British allies, were trained to run in a zigzag pattern to evade gunfire or capture. Armed with a small metal canister containing the message and, in some cases, specially designed saddlebags carrying messenger pigeons, these messengers were four to five times faster than the average soldier on foot. In some cases the messenger’s swift delivery saved entire battalions.

One of the most famous examples was a mixed-breed named “Satan”. Credited with saving was later became known as “The Lost Battalion”, the French were holding a small village near Verdun but quickly became trapped by the Germans. The Germans cut their telephone lines and killed carrier pigeons released by the battalion as they moved in heavy artillery to a nearby hill. Amid heavy gunfire and smoke appeared an unusual figure. Soldiers described this creature as “winged” with “an unusually large head”. The apparition was, in fact, “Satan” – outfitted with a pigeon carrier strapped to his back and a gas mask over his head. A few hundred yards from the safety of French lines, the Germans realized he was a messenger dog and opened fire. “Satan” took a bullet and fell to the ground – regained his footing and resumed his zigzag pattern at a slower trot. He took another bullet to the shoulder and fell just a few yards short of safety.

But “Satan” persevered – mustering up the strength to rise once again to the waiting arms of French soldiers where medics attended to his wounds. These soldiers released the first carrier pigeon which was quickly shot down by the Germans. The second pigeon – the Battalion’s last hope – was released carrying a message of their predicament. Fire rang out as the pigeon climbed the sky above battle lines. Only time would tell if this pigeon was successful in its mission to reach French reinforcements.

Within an hour, France’s long range guns opened fire on the German’s position. The allied forces were able to defeat the Germans and save the village – all thanks to the incredible dedication of one courageous messenger dog.

Tune in next week to learn about Stubby: American Mascot Hero.

Dear Mom and Dad-

I am having a great time with my Puppy Raiser Family. We go on lots of fun outings to places like the mall, the library, and my favorite, the grocery store. I am learning lots of great things too! I am really good at my “sit – stay” and I am working on “finding the door”. Most of all I love meeting new people – especially children!

I hope you both are doing well.

Much Love,

Miss Fay is a very loving dog who likes to relax by the pool and visit all of her friends at Southeastern Guide Dogs.

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.

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