The Forgotten Soldiers: Our Military Working Dogs

Here are some ways to support our canine heroes:

Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act
You might have heard about the legislation introduced early this year that would finally take U.S. military working dogs (MWDs) out of the category "equipment" and make them bona fide "Canine Members of the Armed Forces." If it passes, these loyal four-legged heroes who risk their lives for the safety of our troops would at last be officially recognized as the brave warriors and lifesavers they have been for war after war. The bill will help provide aid for the dogs when they retire. The bill is also... way, way overdue.
The legislation aims to provide (1) improved adoption process, (2) veterinary support, and (3) recognition for retired MWDs.
When soldier dogs and handlers deploy, they barely leave each other’s sides and develop a very close bond. When they have to part in order to fulfill a unit requirement, it can bring the toughest soldier to tears. I’ve never heard of soldiers who cried while returning their old rifles or body armors. The fact that dogs are considered “equipment” is terribly inhumane. Sure, they’re not human soldiers, but they’re a far cry from a rifle or any military equipment. Play a kiddie game with children and ask which of these things does not belong, and they will point right to the dog. Most people will, too. Search the Internet about the bond between a handler and his MWD. Or about the courage and loyalty of these canine partners, walking ahead of our soldiers to clear the path, sacrificing their own lives. If you call these dogs equipment that you can easily leave or get rid of after war, then I do not know what the words hero and friendship mean.
How can you consider these canine partners "equipment"?

Military service dog resting with US soldiers after a hard day's work.

How can you leave your bestfriend behind?

If you want to help the Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act pass, let your senator or representative know you support it at this website
Here are the legislative IDs for the legislation: House: H.R.4103. Senate: S.2134. You can track the status of the bill here.

Project: Troop Dog’s A.D.O.P.T. Program and US War Dogs Association’s Operation Military Care K-9
Both organizations send care packages to MWD teams overseas and maintain current lists of requested items by deployed units. Their projects offer ways for groups, companies, and individuals to get involved. 
Below are some photos of care packages sent to MWD teams overseas. The dogs and handlers are extremely grateful for all the help, love, and assistance.

Donations for Specific Items
Kevlar for K9s and other Vest-A-Dog Network groups help canine units acquire protective Kevlar vests for their working dogs to wear like their human partners. Military Working Dogs Cooling Vest Project (by Support Military Working Dogs Organization) also provides cooling vests and other protective gears such as Doggles, earmuffs, Muttluks, and other items for dogs deployed in war zones in extreme climate conditions. 
Doggles have anti-fog lenses with 100% UV protection, protecting the eyes from light, dirt, sand, flying debris, and insects. The muttluks give the paws superior footwear protection as the heat of rocks and dirt on desert ground are murder to the dog’s pads. The earmuffs help the dogs relax during flight when in helicopter operations, making them ready to work when they get off.

Doggles in action

Happy with his protective vest

Muttluks protect the paws from the scorching hot ground

Earmuffs help the dogs relax while in flight

Furminators for grooming

Just a few of the letters sent by our soldiers to the Support Military Working Dogs Organization:

"The heat out here is murder on the dog's pad. The dog would jump up and down due to the heat on the ground. Before it was just pad coat but with the booties the dogs are not bothered and once back at patrol base they come off to store." - LCpl Martinez, Oscar IDD Thor
"The moondust like dirt is thick and gets into his eyes. With the goggles he doesn't have that problem. It took some adjustment but Gunner has no problem working in the moondust."
 - Cpl Cooper, Jonathan IDD Gunner.

"Tori had really bad pads with the heat on the rocks. With the booties not a problem any more. We live to hunt for IED's.
" - LCpl Valles, Chuck IDD Tori
"The cooling vests help out at the patrol base where the heat index is high. The cooling packs don't take long to cool." 
~ LCpl Lopez, Jose IDD Bandit
The Military Dog Promise (from Troop Dogs):
My eyes are your eyes.  To watch and protect you and yours.  My ears are your ears.  To hear and detect evil minds in the dark.  My nose is your nose to scent the invader of your domain.  And so you may live, my life is also yours.

This post is dedicated to all military working dogs, especially to those who never made it home.

(Special thanks to the following organizations for the information and photos: US War Dogs Association, Save-a-Vet, Troop Dogs, and Support Military Working Dogs Organization.)


  1. The bond between dogs and their owners/handlers is often way stronger than that between two humans. Thank you for a wonderful post.

  2. As a dog lover, I admire the dogs that work with the military but have never believed they should be left there to be killed or die after their master leaves. What a wonderful program and you have explained it so well. I get a little emotional seeing the bond and how much danger they are both in. Great post. Guess I will keep my husband, even if he drives me crazy at times. lol

  3. I agree with everything you said. These dogs are vital to many military units. When I taught school, I would have Vietnam vets come in once a year and on occasion I'd have a dog come along. The students were in awe of these magnificent animals. If I recall correctly some 2900 dogs were used during the Vietnam War.

    1. Wow, that's great, Lowell! That sure made the dogs feel loved and acknowledged. Thank you!

  4. A very impressive post. Much respect for these people and their dogs....

  5. This is a very thought provoking blog, It brings home the work the dogs do in conflict along with the soldiers, I loved the photos. Thanks for a great read.


  6. I had to share this on Thank you for this story and thank you for commenting on my blog.

  7. An impressive reportage, congratulations.

  8. What a wonderful program Lea; I was unaware of this but will support it 100%! You did a lovely job of explaining it and the pictures define the unbreakable bond between man and dog so beautifully. :)


  9. Beautiful photos with a story.
    I really love dogs, the relationship between man and dog is great.
    Greetings Irma

  10. THIS is a really amazing post!
    thanks Lea!


  11. I agree, Lea, is inhumane compare animals to equipment. Loved your post.

  12. I like reading your posts, dear Lea, because your arguments are many and always somehow come to the essence of things.
    Words and images,request and get attention of the reader's heart !

  13. Fabulous, fabulous post! I do wish, though, that you weren't a no-reply blogger! I'd love to respond to your comments on my blog!! You're always so encouraging and kind! :)

    1. Hi, Denise, thanks for letting me know. I changed my settings now. Thank you so much!

  14. La guerra no pertenece a los perros amiga. ¡saludos!

  15. Wonderful post, Lea. All I can say is - it's about time. Good luck on those bills. Wonderful photos too.

    1. I agree, it's about time. Thank you, Rick!

  16. Very good post, congratulations!
    I like these dogs, they are so smart and faithful.
    Have a nice day!

  17. I have to admit I teared up a little. The faithful dogs feel the suffering of the soldiers too, or even greater! The photos explain the strong bond. Better late than never, thank you for sharing! :)

  18. wonderful information
    i support wounded warriors
    now I will look into helping these precious fur soldiers
    thanks for the visit

  19. Lea, I have a foggy memory of there being a group devoted to the dogs after they return from combat, specifically aimed at ptsd in the dogs. I'm sorry I can't remember where I read it or I would post a link.

    Are the dogs and their humans hooked up with domestic police K9 units? Seems like good mutual support.

    1. It's so good to see you here! Yes, there are also dogs diagnosed with PTSD. Part of the legislation is assistance on this. The projects listed above are specific for war dogs but a lot of programs include domestic K9s, too. Thank you so much!

  20. I had no idea the dogs were considered equipment. That's terrible. Wonderful pictures. They brought tears to my eyes, especially the soldier carrying the dog over the train tracks.

  21. I am saddened, that we use them in wartimes anyway, but to regard them as equipment? I can only shake my head.
    Great post, dear!

  22. What a terrific and loving story and great pictures - a little tearful at times but God bless these wonderful soldiers (two legged and four legged) as they work so well together.

  23. This is such a beautiful story and very sad at the same time. It is also great information for us to see and learn. These animals have played such an important part in the military and certainly should be treated as 'brave and wounded soldiers' together with their masters. Wonderful to see the loving bond they have developed. It would be nice to know that these wonderful K9s are not forgotten and by this I mean that they should be returned to civilian life and medically treated, if necessary.

    1. I agree. Nice to see you here :) Thank you!

  24. Interesting to read about all the protections they have for the dogs. Great information. Thanks for compiling it and for stopping in over at Quirky Vistas to check out my post and leave me a comment!