The story of "The Animals Going to War" tells how, one by one, the wild
creatures, then the enemies of man, were made his friends and learned
to be his helpers. In the World War, the horse has borne man into the
thick of the conflict, the mule has drawn his big guns into place, and
the dog has wonderfully come to his aid, so that now, whenever the
"dogs of war" are let loose, the war dogs go with them.
Battle of Verdun had been raging for months; Fort Douaumont had
been taken, lost, and finally retaken by the French. The Germans still
poured against it a terrific rain of shot and shell, and within the
battered fortress the guns were disabled and the ammunition nearly
exhausted. Help was needed and needed at once. Long ago the wireless
had been shot to pieces, and the telephones had been destroyed. It was
sure death for a man to venture outside, let alone trying to reach the
lines behind, where he might secure help.
Still the defenders stood firm, and in their hearts, if not with their
lips, over and over they repeated those magic words, "They shall not
pass!" But the shells continued to fall in their very midst, and unless
that battery could be silenced, the fort and all the men in it would be
lost. What could be done when no messenger could reach the lines
Suddenly, as the men were straining their eyes almost hopelessly in the
direction of those lines, they saw a small, dark speck moving across
the fields, stopping only here and there behind a rock to take shelter
from the bursting shells. Now and then it dashed wildly over the open
fields. But ever straight on toward the fort it came. Swiftly the
entrance of the fort was flung open, and in dashed one of the faithful
dogs, unhurt. In the wallet, fastened to his collar, was found a
message telling that relief was coming. Strapped to his back was a tiny
pannier, inside of which were two frightened carrier pigeons. On a slip
of paper the commander quickly wrote his message: "Stop the German
battery on our left." Then adding any necessary facts as to pointing
the guns, he fastened the message to the trembling bird and let it
loose. Straight to its home, above shot and shell, flew the pigeon. In
a few moments the German battery was silenced, and Douaumont and the
brave defenders were saved.
All along the lines, the dogs were busy bearing important messages back
and forth from one commander to another, and from one fort to another.
Zip, an English bulldog, ran two miles in heavy shell fire and
afterward had to go about with his jaw in splints; but he delivered his
message and seemed anxious to get well enough to carry another. One of
the other messenger dogs, it is said, carried orders almost
continuously for seventy-two hours, hardly stopping to eat or drink;
for no war dog would eat or drink anything given him by strangers. The
faithful animals were in danger of being taken prisoners, as well as of
being struck. Indeed, in one instance a heavy cannon rolled over upon a
big mastiff, pinning him there until help came.
When the battle ceased, the dogs sprang from the trenches and searched
the fields and woods for wounded men. They could find them much more
quickly and with less danger of being seen than any Red Cross man.
In former wars among civilized peoples, the firing has always been upon
armed forces, and the guns were silent after each battle to allow both
sides to find and care for the wounded soldiers in the field. The
Germans, however, have used the Red Cross doctors and stretcher-bearers
for targets, so that to send them out only means to add them to the
number wounded. But the dogs, creeping among the men, can seldom be
seen by the enemy, and besides are able to find the wounded quicker and
more easily. As soon as a dog finds an injured soldier, he seizes his
cap, a button, or a bit of his clothing, and runs back with it to the
doctor or a Red Cross nurse, for he will give it to no one else. The
stretcher-bearers then follow the dog and bring back the wounded man.
Often the man may lie in a dense thicket where no one would think to
look for him, but the dog, by his keen sense of smell or by hearing the
deep breaths or some slight sound made by the injured man, creeps in
and finds him.
Sometimes, to attract the attention of an ambulance driver, the dogs
give several short, quick barks; but usually they do their work
silently, for if they bark, the enemy will fire.
Many times a dog finds a man unable to get back to the lines, but not
so seriously wounded but that he can help himself somewhat. In such a
case, before running for help, the dog stands quiet, close to the
soldier, and allows him to take the flasks and first-aid bandages from
the wallet which is hung about the dog's neck or pinned to the blanket
on his back.
Thus, by the help of these faithful friends, the lives of many hundreds
of men have been saved. Over one hundred were rescued in one night
after a battle. A big Newfoundland, named Napoleon, had the credit of
saving as many as twenty. One of the men, in speaking of him, said,
"Part of his tail has been blown away, and once he was left for dead in
No Man's Land, but he is still on the job, working for civilization."
When not fighting or on watch, the men in the trenches enjoy the
company of the dogs and teach them to perform all sorts of tricks, the
fox terriers proving especially intelligent. They also do good work in
keeping the trenches free from rats.
At night, a French sentinel sometimes crawls through the entanglements
on his way to a "listening post" out in No Man's Land. With him goes a
sentinel dog. The sentinel's purpose is to discover if the enemy are
getting ready for a surprise attack. Lying flat on the earth, or
crouching in a shell hole, he listens with bated breath for any
telltale noises. The dog, listening too, creeps along beside him, or
slinks silently out into the darkness. He can tell, when his master
cannot, if an enemy is abroad. Making no sound, giving no betraying
bark, as soon as he discovers the enemy the dog draws near to his
master, stands at attention, his ears pricked up, his hair bristling,
his tail wagging as he silently paws the ground or growls so low that
only his master can hear him. If the German soldier attempts to fight,
the dog springs at him and throws him to the ground.
A group of soldiers were on watch one night in one of the front
trenches, when all of the dogs suddenly became uneasy, growling low,
and growing more and more excited. The soldiers knew their dogs and
trusted their warnings, so they telephoned back to the main trenches
for help. In less than half an hour, an attack was made from the
German trenches opposite. Meanwhile, however, reÃ«nforcements had
arrived for the Allies, which sent the enemy back to his own lines
again. How the dogs knew so long before that the attack was coming,
whether they could have heard the first faint signs of preparation in
the enemy trenches, the soldiers could not tell.
When a front line trench of the enemy is captured, it is the faithful
dogs who draw up the many cartloads of ammunition and supplies, and
some of the smaller guns. For this, the Belgian dogs are especially
Happy as long as they can help in the fighting, restless and uneasy
whenever sent back to the hospitals for treatment or rest, these dogs
have shown the worth of all the training they have received, as well as
a great amount of natural intelligence.
While Zip, Napoleon, Spot, Stop, Mignon, and BouÃ©e have been doing
their bit on the firing line, still others have been taking their
training in readiness to go to the front. And very hard training it is.
Sheep dogs, fox terriers, bulldogs, collies, St. Bernards,
Newfoundlands, Alaskan wolf dogs, mongrels,--all must be carefully
trained by expert dog trainers.
First they must learn to distinguish between the uniform of their
country and that of the enemy. They must not bark, because then the
enemy will be sure to shoot. In carrying letters from post to post,
they must learn to recognize the posts by name.
ANTI-GAS MASKS WHILE CROSSING A DANGEROUS ZONE IN FRANCE
Copyright by Underwood & Underwood, N.Y.]
About three months of training are necessary to teach the dogs to
travel as far as three kilometres in this work. Two of the dogs are put
into the care of two trainers, and taught to recognize both as their
masters, and to carry dispatches from one to the other.
The dogs must be trained to obey implicitly. If the master stops
abruptly in his walk, the dog must do the same; if the trainer runs,
the dog must keep in perfect step, ready at a given signal to lie down,
or follow a scent, or find a wounded soldier. For many hours he must be
trained in jumping, because of the great heights over which he must
spring, carrying heavy weights in his mouth or upon his back or around
his neck. He must learn to make no sound except when ordered to do so,
to find objects which have been most skillfully hidden, to distinguish
between a dead man and one wounded and breathing, to deliver the token
of a wounded man only to the doctor or Red Cross nurse, to allow
nothing to hinder him from carrying out any task, to refuse food and
water from strangers, and to aid soldiers on the watch. These watch
dogs must learn to give a signal when they scent poison gas or hear the
enemy creeping up. And they must guard prisoners very carefully.
Some dogs cannot learn all of these duties, and so specialists examine
every dog that is enlisted. There are tests for health, intelligence,
speed, quick tempers, and even tempers. When a dog has been in training
for several weeks, he is sometimes found in the end to be unfit for
service, and the trainer has to admit a new recruit in his place and
start all over again. Often a dog can do certain tasks much better than
others, and so each one is assigned to the kind of service which he can
It is marvelous what great services these dogs have rendered in the
World War. The governments have recognized their worth, and societies
have been formed to train and protect them. The French people, in 1912,
organized the "Blue Cross." It is a Blue Cross officer who examines the
dogs and a Blue Cross doctor who gives first aid and orders an injured
dog to the hospital for further treatment. The Blue Cross also has been
at work in Italy.
The American Red Cross Society has taken over the task of securing and
protecting dogs on the American front, but instead of the red cross,
the animals wear a red star, so that the field is blest with three red
symbols of mercy--the red cross, the red triangle, and the red star.
The number of dogs added to the war service during the first four years
of the war was about ten thousand on all fronts.
Not only have dogs been provided by various societies, but many have
been given by private families. One elderly French father wrote to the
French War Department, "I already have three sons and a son-in-law with
the Colors; now I give up my dog, and 'Vive la France!'"
The French government officials, as well as the various societies, have
shown their gratitude by awarding honors to the canine heroes. Many
have been mentioned in the orders for bravery and heroic conduct.
Several have been presented with gold collars. The French government
has even published a "Golden Book of Dogs," in which are recorded some
of the heroic deeds of these brave and faithful friends of man. One of
the dogs wearing a French medal of honor is a plucky fox terrier, who
is said to have saved one hundred fifty lives after the Battle of the
Marne. BouÃ©e, a fuzzy-haired, dirty, yellow-and-black, tailless little
fellow, is another hero, who has been cited three times for his
bravery. During a heavy action, when all the telephone wires had been
destroyed, BouÃ©e carried communications between a commandant and his
force, fulfilling his duty perfectly without allowing anything to
Shall we not change the old proverb from "As brave as a lion," to "As
brave as a dog"?