Real-life stories of animals and their amazing bond with humans

The amazing war dogs

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The dogs showed they were just as good operating at night.

The uncanny ability of animals to find their way back home has been put to use by humans in the grimmest times in history. For example, dogs were trained for use as sentries and messengers during the First World War from 1914 to 1918.
For many years Lieutenant-Colonel Edwin Hautonville Richardson trained dogs and in 1917 set up the British War Dog at Shoeburyness on the mouth of the River Thames in England. Years later Lt-Col Richardson wrote about the prowess of the dogs he trained.

He described how once they set off with their messages these brave dogs went over ‘trackless ground, or along trenches and roads crowded with every sort of traffic, through villages full of troops and every sort of obstruction and temptation. That these dogs accomplished this work is one of the wonders of the war. How they did it cannot be fully explained, for the reason that we do not fully understand the influences which control the animals when under an overpowering desire to return to the place from whence they came. Suffice it to say that it was the determination to return to a beloved master, as represented by his keeper, and that as a result of this emotion,portents and signs indistinguishable to man were waymarks on the journey.’

Lt-Col Richardson said that the dogs’ sense of sight was clearly not a factor as the animals got back to their handlers in pitch black or foggy conditions. ‘The keepers have related to me that on certain nights, when the conditions were so bad, the night so dark and thick, the ground so water-logged and shell-marked, and on certain occasions quite new to the dogs, that they were fearful that these would prove too much even for their faithful followers,’ he wrote.

‘But the curious point was brought out, that the dogs seem to work much better than usual, at such times. As one man said: “ It seemed as though ‘Jock’ divined my fears, and put out an extra effort to show they were needless”.’

Indeed, it was the bond between the dogs and their handlers that seemed crucial to their ability to make it home.

 

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