By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
Australian War Dogs: The Story of Four-legged Diggers
By Nigel Allsopp (New Holland, $29.95, softcover, 189 pages)
Through decades of global conflict, four-legged diggers have served alongside Australian troops, but sadly history has been slow to recognise animal contributions during war.
Nigel Allsopp, who began his military career as a Military Working Dog (MWD) handler, happily points out that in 2009, some of the Australia’s unsung military heroes—and man’s best friend—were finally recognised for their bravery. Documenting their service was a reflection of the dedication and professionalism demonstrated by their handlers.
Australian War Dogs touchingly explores the role of Australian MWDs in our history, their different roles and what future dogs have in modern warfare.
A canine is useful in the art of war because of loyalty, intelligence and devotion: qualities that are highly valued both as pets and in the armed forces.
War dogs, who have served in many places including Europe, Vietnam, Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan and Iraq, do all sorts of jobs like carrying messages, standing watch as sentries, detecting explosives and land mines, tracing and scouting.
Australia has a long history in the use of animals in war from horses, mules and donkeys to canines. Today that focus is on military dogs to be formally recognised by memorials or government-issued awards.
Learning of the loyalties of four-legged diggers such as Razz, Merlin, Andy, Aussie, Herbie, Ziggy, Marcus and Caesar will leave an indelible mark as you rejoice in the knowledge that the former chief of Defence, Air Chief Marshall A.G. Houston, confirmed the endorsement of 7 June to be annually commemorated as Military Working Dog Day.
The author says this book is not about war, but it honours the warrior, both handler and dog. “It is my hope that one day animals will never be needed to fight alongside humans in war, and of course we all pray that people too never have to go to war. But if we do, man’s best friend is ready to go with us”.
Edition 303, 6 March 2012
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.