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Captain Owen Beynon Brown from the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery holds his dog Lord Percy, a resident at the barracks up for Tango his horse to greet, at Wellington Barracks in London, Thursday, April 19, 2012. The King’s Troop on Thursday were preparing for an inspection in Hyde Park, in preparation for 2012 ceremonial roles in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, Trooping the Colour and London 2012 Olympics.
These are some of my favorite images from the new book Soldier Dogs. There are more pictures in our slideshow today.
Military Working Dogs play a crucial part in America’s armed services. The best known “Soldier Dog,” Cairo, put crucial canine skills to work in the SEAL Team Six operation that killed Osama Bin Laden. Other Military Working Dogs serve as everything from bomb sniffers to troop companions to search and rescue dogs (and also serve in darker roles, such as duty at Guantanamo Bay). Their handlers and trainers, devoted dog lovers down to a man, form an unusually close-knit fraternity within the military.
A sailor greets a dog at Charlton kennels. After the war, soldiers who fell in love with dogs while fighting in Europe hated leaving them behind, so the Blue Cross set up quarantine kennels to bring them back to the UK. In the second world war, these were reopened for the dogs of refugees fleeing Europe.
A dog being treated by vet and nurse. This dog was born on the battlefield and adopted by a French Howitzer battery. He was injured twice and treated by the Blue Cross vets who bandaged his lacerated ear. The charity treated over 10,000 dogs in its French hospitals during World War One.
During the conflict soldiers became incredibly attached to the animals with whom they experienced the terror and hardship of the battlefield. One army captain writing from Belgium in March 1916, on receipt of a Blue Cross veterinary chest, said: “Many things are sent to my men, but these are the first things I have ever got for my horses, and could they speak I suppose they’d express gratitude, and for the men I really believe all my chaps would rather have something for their “long-faced chums,” as they call them, than for themselves.”