March 13th is known as National K-9 Veterans Day in honor of military dogs and the service they have provided over the years. This day offers a chance to reflect on the roles that dogs have had in the U.S. military and the sacrifices some have made. Learn more about K-9 Veterans Day, including how to honor these dogs.
Military Dogs in U.S. History
Dogs started training for the U.S. Army’s War Dog Program, or K-9 Corps, on March 12, 1942, but they were part of American military history before that. Dogs mainly served as mascots or morale boosters during the Civil War and World War I. A military dog named Stubby accompanied soldiers overseas and gave warnings about attacks. Stubby ended up being promoted to the role of sergeant for his bravery. Other dogs helped the army in different ways at this time, such as laying cables for communication.
During World War II, dogs acted as mascots for troops, but some also saw combat. In fact, airborne dogs took part in D-Day during the war. A mixed breed named Chips helped U.S. troops capture enemy soldiers in Sicily.
Military dogs also played important role in the Vietnam War, such as an Air Force dog named Nemo who protected his handler from enemy soldiers. Dogs have also helped U.S. troops in other ways during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some of these military dogs helped detect explosives, such as mines, while others assisted assault teams and participated in special operations.
How to Celebrate K-9 Veterans Day
You can honor dogs who have served in the military by reading more about their history, including the lives of specific military dogs. Knowing more about them, such as the training they received and their experiences in combat, can help you appreciate the roles they’ve played in keeping our soldiers safe.
If you’re thinking of getting a pet, consider adopting a retired K-9 dog. Check your area for organizations that can help you find one of these dogs that is in need of a good home. This is a great way to make sure a military dog can enjoy a happy and healthy retirement.
You might not be able to directly honor a military dog on K-9 Veterans Day, but you can still show dogs in general some appreciation. You can volunteer with a pet rescue. You can also spend time with your own dog on this day doing something special, such as visiting the local dog park or going for a long walk.