Dogs are an important part of the military and have saved countless thousands of lives since World War II. Not only do these military working dogs provide protection, they also become a part of a soldier's life than can never be broken. These dogs do so much more than keep a soldier on foreign soil safe. Military dogs provide love and companionship. Many soldier's left pets back at home, and these dogs help heal the heartbreak from being away from pets and family.
The American Kennel Association and Dogs for Defense asked dog owners across the U.S. to donate working dogs to the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps back in January 1942. This was the beginning of the working dog program. At the onset of the Korean War, officially called the "Korean Conflict", Army War Dog Receiving & Holding Station was activated in Alexandria, Virginia at Cameron Station. The dogs were later shipped to the Fort Carson, Colorado Army Dog Training Center.
Between 1964-1973, 4000 war dogs and 10000 handlers were used to help fight the war in Vietnam.
Today military working dogs continue to assist soldiers in both the Iraq and Afghan war.
Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas is known as the base where most of the Army's military dogs are trained. Lackland finds eligible dogs from several U.S. and overseas sources, who then come to the base for intensive training. Come October, it will be the permanent site of the first military monument dedicated to dogs.
This project was launched in 2001 by the John Burnam Monument Foundation, whose founder has written books about dogs in combat. Burnam has a lot of first hand experience, as he served along military dogs during the Vietnam War.
Plans for the monument were signed into congressional law by former President George W. Bush, and were later amended by President Barrack Obama. The new monument will share the same national status as Mount Rushmore.
The bronze monument will feature statues of the four primary dog breeds with a dog handler.
Currently the U.S. Military Working Dogs Monument is on a tour sponsored by Petco and Natural Balance Pet Foods and Maddie's Fund. Natural Balance is based in Los Angeles and was founded by actor Dick Van Patten. This tour will leave out from Los Angeles and make appearances in several cities before reaching it's permanent home at Lackland Air Force Base where a dedication ceremony will take place in October 2013.
The video on this article shows Lucca, an 8-year-old German Shepherd-Belgian Malinois mix who lost a leg in March 2012 while valiantly serving her country. Lucca was seriously injured by a homemade explosive device while on patrol in Helmand Province in Afghanistan. After the tour, Lucca plans to retire to Finland, where she'll become a spoiled family dog.
The slideshow is a collection of military dogs from across the U.S. More can be found on their Facebook Military Working Dogs page.
An official tour schedule should be available in the near future.