Thanking our four-legged vets

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 29, 2011

This weekend we celebrate Memorial Day. Cookouts, family, and of course, the longest running parade in America are all things we look forward to every year.

The most important thing we need to do this weekend is to honor our veterans and current soldiers for the freedom they have provided for us.

Since World War I canines have served along with our brave troops to protect this great nation. The first known dog to serve in the military was a canine named Stubby.

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Stubby served 18 months on the front line during World War I. Legend has it that he saved his regiment from a surprise mustard gas attack. He also helped to locate and comfort the wounded and even caught a German soldier by the seat of his pants.

When Stubby returned home he was on the front of every newspaper and was invited to the White House by two different presidents. Stubby was instrumental in inspiring the creation of the US K9 Corps just in time for World War II.

A soldier named John Flannelly credits his war time survival to his partner, Bruiser. On a predawn patrol in Vietnam, Bruiser, alerted to danger in a jungle clearing just in time for Flannelly to kill one of two Viet Cong lying in wait with AK47s and grenades.

The other was able to get several rounds off shattering Flannelly’s chest and exposing a lung, yet despite his desperate command to “Get out of here,” a wounded Bruiser dragged him 25 yards to a bomb crater, where a rescue helicopter saved the pair.

Tom Mitchell, another Vietnam veteran, said his K9 partner served him in another way. According to Mitchell, even the most hardened soldiers are strained to the limit during war situations.

He says that K9 soldiers also serve as psychological anchors to peacetime lives the men had to leave behind.

Most recently, when SEAL Team 6 raided bin Laden’s compound, they had a K9 with them. Who knows, the K9 soldier may have been the first one to look bin Laden in the eye.

K9s work as scouts, bomb sniffers, trackers, and best friends. They have become a vital addition to today’s military and police forces.

From our local sheriff’s office, to Homeland Security, and SEAL Team 6, I think K9 soldiers also deserve a big, Thank You. Have a great Memorial Day and thank a soldier for your freedom. Remember, every dog deserves to be treated like a show dog.

Tony and Kate Barker are certified pet groomers who own and operate The BARKer Shop in Ironton. For questions, call 740-534-0088.