National K9 Veterans Day is an official national holiday and a time to honor the service and sacrifice of military dogs who have served our country. These dogs have bravely served in many ways, from detecting explosives and drugs to providing emotional support to troops in combat. In 2022, National K9 Veterans Day falls on March 13.
But why is this holiday so important? Just like human war vets, dogs have given their lives for our freedom. Dog’s have brought out men home safe, often sacrificing themselves. Dogs throughout American history have been heroes, and National K9 Veterans Day is the perfect day to celebrate them and maybe spoil your pup just a little extra.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF MILITARY WORKING DOGS
As long as man has been alive, we as a race have been fighting one another. And, as long as we have been fighting, dogs have been by our side. Dogs were first used in battles as far back as 600 BC when a pack of dogs was unleashed against an invading Cimmerian army.
Dogs have been used in warfare for centuries. And their role has evolved along with the changing nature of combat. Today’s military dogs serve in various roles, including surveillance, sentry duty, and mine detection. They are also used to provide emotional support to troops in combat.
During WWI, Dogs were used in various military units, and some were even on naval ships as rat catchers. However, the downside to these early K9 warriors is that the government viewed them as equipment within the armed forces. And this would mean that canines were often left behind after a battle.
Furthermore, in WWII, dogs returned to the battlefield and became essential for saving lives. Dogs were able to disable tanks with explosives, sadly at the cost of their own lives, but saved entire soldiers’ platoons.
During Vietnam, Doberman Pinschers were the original war dog to airdrop into combat zones and were given the nickname “Devil Dogs.” Often used as a guard dog and alert system for the soldiers, these dogs would often hold their own if the enemy attacked.
After this time, dogs were finally considered part of the team rather than equipment and would return after a war with full honors.
Even today, we used dogs in war. In fact, K-9s were responsible for bringing down Osama Bin Laden’s sons in May of 2011. So we can see that military dogs have played a vital role in military campaigns.
LACK OF PROTECTIONS FOR MILITARY DOGS
Military dogs do get their own protection. While today’s dogs have a wide range of gear, early military dogs didn’t get the same luxury. Furthermore, while these furry veterans serve, there are some benefits that we give these heroic dogs.
However, when military dogs retire, they are often left without any protections. This is where organizations, such as the K9s of Valor, step in to help. They are a non-profit that helps place retired war dogs in loving homes.
MILITARY WORKING DOG TRAINING AND SPECIALTIES OF TODAY’S DECORATED WAR DOG
Around 2,300 military working dogs are deployed worldwide and serve in many roles. And each dog excels at different tasks. For example, some dogs love finding lost children, some dogs that are trained to find bombs, and some that help transport supplies.
Across the years, there have been many decorated K9 veterans. Some horses have been awarded honors, including a few dogs earning a purple heart. Furthermore, these heroes often receive their own retirement ceremonies.
WHAT STATES RECOGNIZE K9 VETERANS DAY?
Military dogs have played a vital role in our country for centuries, and K9 Veterans Day is the perfect day to celebrate their heroism. While all 50 states recognize this holiday, each state may do so differently.
For example, military working dogs are honored in Texas with a monument at Joint Base in San Antonio, Texas. Many different military memorials highlight the accomplishments of these dogs.
HOW TO CELEBRATE K-9 VETERANS DAY
While many places don’t hold parades for canine vets as they do for human war veterans, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have your own celebration with your furry best friend.
U.S. War Dogs Association
The U.S. War Dogs Association (USWDA) is a non-profit, volunteer-run organization that supports military working dogs and their handlers. The organization was founded in 2001 by four dog handlers who was inspired to create a support network for military working dogs.
Over the last 21 years, USWDA has given to or given K-9 memorials in memory of our war dog heritage, sent over 30,000 care packages to military dogs’ handlers serving abroad, and is presently supporting over 1,000 retired military working canines with our prescription program. Donate today to help K-9 Veterans and celebrate the history of our furry comrades.
Give Your Own Pooch a Treat
One way to celebrate is by giving your furry friend their favorite treat. Dogs love getting rewarded. This can be a piece of chicken, a Pupacchino, or even just a game of fetch. Another great way to spend time with your furry friend is by going for a walk, and this will help get some exercise and fresh air into both of you. And if you take the time to visit a war dog memorial, it can be a great way to celebrate the day.
Adopt a Retired K9 Veteran
Adopt don’t shop. Once these dogs retire, offering one of these heroes a forever home can be rewarding. However, these dogs require a lot of unique care, and you will often have to go through an in-depth process to adopt one of these highly trained dogs. Mission K-9 has a lot of resources where you can learn more about these incredible dogs.
Give Your Dog a Bully Stick
Dogs love treats, and what better way to celebrate K9 Veterans Day than by giving your furry friend a bully stick? Bully sticks are long, natural chews that dogs love. They are a healthy and safe alternative to rawhide, and they help keep dogs’ teeth clean and healthy.
The Independent International K9 Veterans Day, March 13, is dedicated to paying tribute and homage to all American military and working dogs who have served.
On March 13 back in 1942, the U.S. Army began training its new War Dog Program, more commonly known as the “K-9 Corps,” which was the first time dogs were a part of the U.S. military.