Dogs have been used as implements of combat for centuries. But their presence on the battlefield still seems to captivate and even mystify many of us. Why? While they serve important and unique functions on the battlefield, many of us seem to have not just personified dogs, but ‘super personified' them. We establish bonds with dogs, it seems, far faster than we do with other humans. ‘Rex' and ‘Rover' are easily adopted into the family -- and if that family consists of non dog lovers, Rex and Rover typically flip their sentiments 180 degrees post haste. And dogs remain ‘family members' even after peeing all over the $5,000 imported rug. Cousin Chester got banished forever from the family for snaking out on a loan for a couple hundred bucks to dad. They're sweet, intelligent (mostly, and ‘dumbness' in dogs is far more endearing than it is a hindrance), insightful, and most importantly, tuned in to our moods. Aren't they above war? What if Ostrich had the same olfactory prowess as dogs, and we saw images of giant birds loping along dusty, rutted dirt roads alongside squads of Marines, pecking in the air in the direction of IEDs they just sniffed? We'd probably laugh, but we wouldn't get on the edges of our seats, worrying about them setting off those IEDs, like so many of us do when we see images dogs on those dusty, rutted dirt roads -- and like we do when we see images troops on those dusty, rutted dirt roads.Tom Ricks - Foreign Policy
But not all dogs in war are ‘tools' used by the human combatants of that war. Most, in fact, are just there when war happens. Many actually get adopted by the combatants themselves, and not to perform a function like Henryetta did for Special Forces and then Marines of Camp Blessing against opposing combatants, but for something that commanders, at least officially, frown upon as a ‘hygiene issue:' they become pets. Like Hamchuck and Henryetta, these dogs walk into a base, but there they often stay -- or I should say, are kept -- bringing a warm semblance of home to the austerity of deployed life.
Monday, May 16, 2011
Dedicated to 'Blue'....the faithful mutt at COP Gator, Baghdad. I hope he's safe and happy, but the odds are against him.