Most of the canines that are used for law enforcement and military service are the larger breeds such as the German Shepherd. This makes sense if one thinks about how the dog is being used, for crowd control, patrol, tracking, and guarding camps or people. Intimidation is a key factor for a successful law enforcement or military dog. In ancient times dogs were sent into battle with spiked collars and armor, trained to attack and bring the enemy down. Russians tried to train dogs with anti-tank devices to run at enemy tanks but that didn’t work too well as the dogs would just run back to the Russian tanks.
Dogs such as the Belgium Malinois, German Shepherd, Labrador Retrievers, and Doberman Pinschers have been used for military campaigns for many years. Several hundred dogs that were used in the Vietnam War were unfortunately left behind when that conflict ended. Today we make efforts to bring our veteran dogs’ home rather than abandoning them when we leave the area. Many of these dogs will return to the United States to be reunited with their human combat buddy.
The effects of war are many; from missing limbs to families broken apart to post traumatic stress disorder; those who have served their country in times of need have suffered and continue to suffer after they arrive safely home. Fortunately our society today recognizes the suffering of its war veterans, unlike years past where psychological disorders were not considered.
There are many organizations today that help our returning veterans to assimilate back into civilian life and help with the care a returning veteran may require. As recent headlines suggest, there is still much more to be done for these veterans of war; it should be against our moral principles to expect someone to give their all (including their life) for their country, but not give the returning veteran all they need when they return home.
With over 300,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars returning home with post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, it is no wonder that every type of therapy available would be tried. One therapy that is proving to be successful is using therapy dogs for vets with PTSD. There are programs in which veterans will go to local shelters to work with “problem” dogs, getting the dogs to the point where they are adoptable. There are programs where shelter dogs are trained and given to soldiers, watching them as they sleep at night and waking the veteran up if they are experiencing a nightmare. Some veterans are unable to leave their home until a therapy dog is provided which gives them a “combat buddy” to share the day with. It is amazing that these dogs are providing such a valuable service for our country’s veterans, and completely disheartening that our government will not fund this type of therapy. Hopefully as more and more veterans prove this type of therapy works the government will see the benefit in providing funds for these outstanding programs.