Michael Yon, the well-known independently-operating war reporter, has just published a piece on his website about the military dogs of the war in Afghanistan (along with a look at some aggressive poultry aka “veloci-chickens” which inhabit the same country).
We usually only hear about the military dogs when something out of the ordinary or particularly poignant occurs, but Yon provides a perspective on their general lot in life, which apparently is a lot better than you might think:
Military dogs make you smile because they seem to know they’ve won the dog life lottery. They’ve got everything a dog could want, including someone to play with every day, plenty of chow, exercise, fun things to do, other dogs to play with, and a great dental plan. Nobody ever beats them or ties them to trees. They get constant training—and tons of action—and they are allowed to engage their feral side by practicing attacking people or really attacking people. Often they get to play “hide and seek,” and then get to attack the person they find. Their reward for ripping off someone’s arm is a big hug.
These pups get to travel the world and smell new things, and never have to worry about heartworms, being alone all day when Mom and Dad go to work and the kids go to school, or about being hunted by a bigger dog or a tiger. Their handler has an M4 rifle and will enthusiastically shoot any threat to his buddy.
So he feels that the dangers of combat are more than canceled out by the constant activity and the attention which the dogs receive, and I imagine he’s right. Dogs’ lives are dangerous enough in the suburbs, what with speeding cars and all that lousy dog food; at least life at war in Afghanistan provides purpose, excitement and lots of the kind of social ties that dogs love. Bless ’em all.
Check out his full post for a variety of photos and anecdotes.