Lynn: This month as we honor our brave men and women who currently serve or who have served our country, please take time for this wonderful book that celebrates a special kind of brave and faithful soldier. Dogs On Duty: Soldiers’ Best Friends on the Battlefield and Beyond (Walker 2012) is the story of military dogs and their history, as well as their training, equipment, treatment and amazing feats. With its high interest subject, large size and eye-catching format and cover, this is a book that will fly off the shelves!
From the opening photograph which shows a dog and his soldier handler leaping out of an aircraft into the Gulf of Mexico to the pictures of dogs at work to the endearing shots of puppies and their training, this is irresistible to dog-loving kids AND adults. Patent’s text is equally fascinating as she explores the traits that make dogs so valuable to the military, the history of their use and how that has evolved into the many many services military dogs provide today. Did you know there was a dog on the SEAL team that killed Osama Bin Laden or that dogs locate bombs and land mines, illegal drugs, guard bases and embassies, parachute from aircraft, and even serve in submarines? Military dogs are invaluable partners to American soldiers and I was fascinated by their training and equipment. They carry lights, cameras with night vision, wear kevlar vests and when they jump out of aircraft they wear “doggles” to protect their eyes.
Like human soldiers, military dogs face incredible danger and many are killed or injured. I appreciated Patent’s frank discussion of this aspect of service and was heartened to read of the rehabilitation and care provided for injured dogs and of military dogs’ careful placement with loving families when their military service has ended. A glossary and bibliography winds up the book and includes this really wonderful Defense Department website about military dogs.