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Barking Great Books!

Did you know that dogs have been trained and successfully used in combat? They are called Military War Dogs (MWDs) and as in other wars were again made famous as part of the successful SEALS maneuver against Osama Bin Laden. It doesn’t matter what your beliefs are about war, these books are fascinating in their own right and will be of interest to returning combat veterans, guide dog users, and anyone interested in dogs.

Many of us with guide dogs for the blind are being trained by instructors who worked with Military War Dogs. Some are Vietnam vets, others are from other combat or training situations. As I read about the training of the MWDs, I heard the voices of my guide dog instructors using the exact same words to tell me how to train and handle my dog: “Your emotions travel right down the leash to your dog.” “You must be alpha, but really it’s a team.” “Pay attention to what your dog is telling you.” “Trust your dog!”

Many books about MWDs can be found in the Special Collection called “Resources for Returning Veterans.” Subjects covered include history (especially what happened to the dogs in Vietnam), how the dogs are currently trained, their critical functions in Iraq and Afghanistan, writings by the human half of K-9 teams—even the use of therapy dogs by veterans coping with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). One title in the collection written by a combat veteran with PTSD, Until Tuesday, eloquently describes his journey back into the world with the help of a therapy dog named “Tuesday.”

The military considers these highly trained and effective dogs to be “military equipment,” no different than a soldier’s weaponry or clothing, so these books are in the “Military Strategy and History” category of the “Resources for Returning Veterans” Special Collection. (As “equipment,” the fates of the dogs aren’t always favorable. There is movement to get that legally changed, and there are various memorials to military dogs around the USA and worldwide.)

Here’s the link to the site, but if your software doesn’t handle long links, follow this path: Homepage, Browse Book Lists, And more (on the far right of the page), Special Collections, Resources for Returning Veterans. It’s easier to see the category in Table View than in List View.

Happy reading!

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