Man's Best Friend: 5 War Heroes That Were Dogs

war dogs
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes; some are even furry and walk on all fours. It is widely known that dogs are man's best friends for they hold no grudges and are eternally loyal toward their owners. Dogs have long been a great ally and a fierce protector of humans, they will lay down their lives at any given time to save their loved ones. Throughout history, many dogs have gained a reputation for their bravery on the battlefield. Here are the heartfelt stories of five courageous dogs that became war heroes and helped saved human lives.
1. Gunner – Australia's Alarm
Gunner Australia's Alarm
Japanese bombs were dropping out of the skies like rain over Australia's Northern Territory, Darwin, around 10 m on February 19, 1942, just over two months after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. After the initial attack which sunk eight ships and damaged 37 others, soldiers went looking for the injured and the dead beneath the rubble.
Amidst all the destruction and chaos, they found a tiny survivor – a six-month-old male Kelpie (Australian sheep dog) whimpering and shivering in fear with a broken leg. The injured pup wound up in the tender hands of Leading Aircraftman Percy Westcott who made it his duty to seek help for the injured dog. Westcott took the dog to the doctor, who regretfully said he was not allowed to treat any “man” who didn't have a name or serial number. So Westcott named the Kelpie “Gunner” and gave him the number 0000. Satisfied, the doctor put a cast on Gunner's leg and sent them along their way.
From then on, the duo were virtually inseparable. When Gunner's leg began healing, he joined Westcott in his daily tasks. One day when the men were repairing planes in the airfield, Gunner started barking and jumping up and down. Then men paid him no heed, but within a few minutes, Japanese bombardiers came into sight and started shelling Darwin again. Thankfully, the men and Gunner managed to run to safety. Two days later, Gunner started making a commotion again, and this time the men knew better and took cover to prepare for the upcoming onslaught.
From February 1942 to November 1943, over 60 air raids were commenced on Darwin. Gunner warned the soldiers of nearly every single one, saving countless lives. Another amazing aspect of this was that Gunner never barked when Australian planes took off or were returning. He was able to differentiate between Australian aircrafts and Japanese aircrafts. It is not known what happened to Gunner after the war. We hope he had retired in a life of comfort with Westcott.
2. Rip the Rescue Dog
Rip the Rescue Dog
The Blitz was a period of intense bombing of London that commenced on September 7, 1940. For the next 57 days, German bombers reduced the city to little more than rubble. After a heavy shelling during the starting of the Blitz, an Air Raid Warden, E.King, found a hungry stray dog wandering the streets. He threw some meat at it but the dog refused to go away. The dog followed King back to his post, and eventually, became something of a mascot as he grew on everyone there. But Rip, as they named him, soon showed that he was worth more than a mascot.
Rip followed King out one night after a bombing and his nose started twitching. Rip followed his nose to a collapsed building and almost instinctively started digging. Rip uncovered a man, still alive, buried beneath. If it had not been for the dog, the man would have perished.
The surprising thing about it is that Rip had never been trained, but after that wonderful incident, Rip became England's first urban search and rescue dog. It was reported that he found and rescued over hundred people with his sensitive, life-saving nose. Thanks to Rip, today London’s police force and military trains hundreds of dogs per year to be part of their urban search and rescue teams.
In 1945, Rip was awarded the Dickin Medal for bravery, an honor bestowed animals for their service during war. On the medal, it reads “For Gallantry. We Also Serve.” Rip passed away in 1946 and is buried in Ilford Animal Cemetery in London.
3. Antis – The “German” Who Saved Frenchmen
Antis German Shepard
When French Air Force gunner Robert Bozdech's plane was plummeting towards the Earth, he saw his life flashing pass his eyes, what he didn't see though was that he would make a new best friend very shortly. He crashed landed in Northern France, ominously known as “No Man's Land” and fortunately managed to emerge from the wreckage of his plane with a couple of minor injuries. He heard sounds from a farmhouse near to where his plane crashed, and cautiously went to investigate with his gun, thinking that it was the enemy. Instead, he found a gray ball of fur which turned out to be an orphaned German Shepard puppy. Bozdech tucked the little canine into his leather jacket and hitched a ride back 200 miles to St. Dizier Air Base. The rest of his peers were shocked too see that he was still alive, let alone bringing back an adorable addition to the base.
Antis became the name of the dog because Bozdech loved to fly Russian ANT dive-bombers. The puppy grew up into a handsome adult German Shepard and became not just a loyal friend to Bozdech and his comrades, he also became a seasoned war veteran. He barked in warning about oncoming enemy fire and learned how to sniff and dig for survivors buried in rubble. The soldiers also considered Antis a good luck charm, and highly thought of him as braver than many a human soldier. Antis would secretly follow Bozdech on his plane missions to ensure that he would be there to protect his human. Many times, Bozdech would only find out that Antis was on board when they were already soaring through the skies. Antis would also run into enemy fire to notify others where the injured men were. There was even once when he injured himself, but that did not stop him from performing his duties. Several days after being injured, Antis somehow managed to sneak onto Bozdech's plane again as a stowaway. Can you saw “awwwww”?
Bozdech and Antis were unstoppable as a team, and they managed to survive the war together, after which, Antis was awarded the Dickin Medal and lived with Bozdech for the rest of his life. Antis passed away peacefully and happily at the ripe old doggy age of 14 in 1953.
4 & 5. Salty and Roselle – 9/11 Safety Guides
Salty and Roselle
It is debatable whether 9/11 can be constituted to war. It was definitely an act of war though, and two dogs helped in the tragedy. Salty and Roselle were both part of the Guiding Eyes for the Blind program in New York, but came upon their fates differently.
Roselle was only one and a half when she was introduced to Michael Hingson, the man she was to guide. Hingson had been blind since birth but his lack of sight did not stop him from earning a Masters in Physics from the University of California. On September 11, 2001, he was working as a computer sales manager on the 78th floor of the World Trade Center Tower 1.
Roselle was sleeping by her master's side when the plane struck the 99th floor. Calm and collected, she directed Hingson and several others in the office down over 1400 stairs in the dark and out the door. The whole escape took about an hour, but within moments of them making it out to the street, Tower 2 collapsed and sent debris flying everywhere. Roselle was struck by the piece, but the only thing on her mind was guiding her master to safety, so she continued moving unfazed just like she was trained to do.
“She saved my life. While everyone ran in panic, Roselle remained totally focused on her job. While debris fell around us, and even hit us, Roselle stayed calm,” Hingson spoke proudly of his canine rescuer.
Where as for Salty, he was introduced to Omar Rivera. It was the perfect match as both of them loved the fast-paced, city-living life in New York. Rivera lost his eyesight due to glaucoma, but continued to work for New York's Port Authority as a senior systems designer. He was working on the 71st floor of the World Trade Center Tower 1 on 9/11. Like Roselle, Salty was lying next to Rivera when the plane hit. The whole building swayed unsteadily but Salty calmly got to his feet and offered Rivera his guidance, and lead him down the stairs. At one point, a well-meaning co-worker thought the dog needed help and tried to take Salty's leash, but Salty refused to budge from his master's side. They made it out the door and were two or three blocks away when the second tower came crashing down.
Both Salty and Roselle were given the Dickin medal for their heroics despite all the chaos around them. Salty passed away in 2008 and Roselle in 2011. They are remembered as American heroes. 
Information Source: Today I Found Out

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