Rebecca Frankel’s New York Times Bestseller, War Dogs: Tales Of Canine Heroism, History And Love educates readers on the history of dogs and humans in battle. But beyond this, it offers a unique glimpse inside the world of Miltary Working Dogs and their handlers, both of whom put their lives on the front lines for their country.
Frankel gives us an up-close look at what these heroes do, day in and day out, starting with the training. “Your dog is your weapon. Your dog is not a pet. Do not get close to your dog. Do not grow attached to your dog.” These are just some of the instructions the Sergeants repeat in order to prepare everyone for battle. Perhaps easier said than done. Frankel writes, “When bullets are coming and a handler’s dog is out in the open and unprotected, this mentality doesn’t always prevail. Handlers have put themselves in harm’s way protecting their dogs; some have even dies trying to save them.”
Then it’s onto the battlefield where, despite millions of dollars of engineering, the military has been unable to find a more effective method for detecting IEDs (improvised explosive devices) than a dog’s remarkable, masterful, crackerjack schnoz. And their bravery extends far beyond their snouts. These animals also brave the grisly horrors of war, remind traumatized soldiers of their humanity, and even die for their platoon.
War Dogs is most powerful in the individual stories of the handlers and their dogs. The tales of these steeled soldiers, who are made completely emotionally vulnerable by their dogs is both beautiful and profound. Word to the wise: keep the tissue box close.
I was excited to read War Dogs because, while I am wise to almost all things canine, I am admittedly ignorant about the military. I figured my passion for pups would make War Dogs a good intro into a field that I should know much more about. And while I most certainly did got what I was looking for, within the first couple pages, it became clear that I’d be getting a lot more than just an education. Frankel’s stories will give dog owners a different kind of respect for their dogs and the unshakeable bond that exists on either end of a leash. Perhaps a more solemn appreciation. The Washington Post reviewed, “exceptionally interesting and surprisingly moving book.” After reading War Dogs you’ll want to hug every member of your family, human and canine alike, tight.