Military Working Dogs (MWD) have a unique place in the military, as Rogak points out. On the one hand, they are considered to be equipment and on the other hand, they are considered to be equal to the other warriors.
It is a punishable offense in the army to mistreat any dog. The dogs are awarded a rank just like any other soldier and their rank is always one level higher than their handler. Abusing a superior physically or mentally is grounds for a court marshal.
Although there are some who object to the use of dogs in war, those who care for them believe that their lives are more fulfilling and they get better care and treatment than pampered house pets.
Every dog needs a purpose and the highly trained MWD know their purpose even if what they do seems more like play to them.
The Dogs of War examines many aspects of the life of the MWD, the selection of the most suitable dogs, the training, the equipment, the veterinary care, the duties, and the bonds they establish with their handlers.
Also covered in the book are the mascots, the scruffy little dogs who hang around the barracks and bring joy to the soldiers who are not supposed to adopt them, but nevertheless often do.
Anecdotes and pictures add to interest to the book.
There is no age at which an MWD can no longer carry out the duties. It depends on the dog. Some are stressed out at the age of six or seven while others are totally enjoying the duties of war for many more years.
Each dog is evaluated individually. Retired dogs that pass behavior tests are eligible for adoption. People interested in adopting a MWD should do research to see if this is what they want to do before getting involved in the lengthy adoption process.
These are older dogs who will have health problems. They have not lived inside and may not be housebroken. Exploring every corner of the house, including counter surfing can be expected. They are not familiar with normal household noises like vacuum cleaners and doorbells. Depression may set in when they aren’t working unless they are challenged physically and mentally.
In spite of everything, they make wonderful companions and a welcome addition to the right family.
The Dogs of War is a complete, well researched, fully footnoted, informative book about our canine warriors.