Ask any soldier and he or she will tell you dogs can heal. Next to a human battle buddy, a trained dog can be your most trusted ally on the battlefield. In Maria Goodavage’s book “Soldier Dogs,” you can read many heart-pounding stories of America’s canine heroes. These are some of the most loyal, courageous, furry warriors who have saved hundreds of lives in the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, many by detecting improvised exploding devices before they can destroy lives.
While dogs have a long and honored history in combat, “They are just as valuable on the home front,” according to Col. John Anson Smith, of Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu. At Tripler there is something called the Human-Animal Bond Program where American Red Cross volunteers can bring their dogs to visit patients and hospital staff. Some patients who are hesitant to speak to staff will open up to a furry friend. “Dogs Are Healers” is the name of a short film by Genie Joseph about this program that was recently shown at a training at Tripler called Animals Raise Resilience. See the ten-minute film Dogs are Healers.