Most people are in agreement that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are having a lower return on investment (ROI) as time goes on, when it comes to counting the cost of lives against the benefits of peace. 99% of the time the cost of life we are considering is that of our soldiers and military personnel and rightly so given that they put their safety on the line to defend the rights and freedom of humanity.
As grateful and supportive as I am to our heroes, it is another type of war hero that this article is the focus of. In everyday life our dogs are our best friends, our companions and often our saving grace, and in the throws of war they are this to their handlers and so much more. Dogs in the military have become more of a focus over the past year with stories such as Lance Corporal Liam Tasker and his beloved spaniel Theo and dogs being awarded medals of honour for their life saving heroics whilst deployed.
Military Working Dogs are used in so many vital areas such as sniffing out bombs, attack dogs, IED (improvised explosive devices) tracking, patrolling & guarding and locating weapons caches and the bond that they form with the human counterparts is amazing. These dogs are with their handlers 24/7 and are not only there for work purposes, but offer support and company during times of great risk and loneliness. No one, including me could deny the benefit and necessity of having dogs in our military; the work that they do saves lives and as such it is invaluable.
However, there is a cost of having dogs in the military that goes above and beyond the usual loss of life during war and those dogs who die of broken hearts when their handlers lose their lives. In the past 10 years in the UK alone, over 800 military dogs have been put to sleep because they were deemed too aggressive to re-home after their deployment came to an end. Many military dogs are so devoted to their handlers and roles that once their tour of duty is over, they have difficulty readjusting to normal life and other people.
There is also the issue of some of these dogs being treated like military equipment and once they go past their usefulness, no more time is spent on them in terms of re-training and socialising. My personal belief is that these dogs should be treated with the same respect and reverence that ex-military war heroes are treated and they should be given all of the time and support that is needed to get them back into society and spending the rest of their lives with the comfort and love that they deserve.
Many of our soldiers are still alive today as a result of the work of these dogs, which means that we are still being protected by those deployed because of the loyalty and service of hundreds of military dogs and it should be recognised that dogs do not volunteer to serve us; we train them and put them in dangerous situations and they happily and loyally serve us because they are devoted to their owners and they will do anything to please humans.