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Military working dogs got their start in Alaska

Military working dogs got their start in Alaska
Military working dogs got their start in Alaska
Animal Planet photo

Michael Lemish, author of the book “War Dogs” writes:

“In the not-so-distant past, Alaska boasted the only military working dogs in the whole of the U.S. military. At the beginning of World War II, there were only about 50 military working dogs and they were all sled dogs in Alaska.”

While history can document the use of sentry dogs as far back as they document warriors and wars, the official use of military working dogs in the United States began with sled dogs at the turn of the last century.

Lt. William Mitchell an Army Signal Corps officer was tasked with connecting, by telegraph, the Alaska Territory with Washington, in the lower 48.

Taking stock of the proposed five-year project, Mitchell called on local “mushers” for their expertise with sled dogs.

From there, using government funding, he purchased 80 dogs and necessary gear to cross hundreds of miles of Alaska's tundra to complete the telegraph project; coming in three years under the project's expected deadline.

The first United States working dog team was literally off and running.

Clearly, all branches of the military have since expanded their use of dogs bringing to mind Cairo the Navy SEAL dog who accompanied SEAL Team Six on the now famous take-down of Osama bin Laden.

Please read the full commentary,written as a series, by the Air Force’s 354th Fighter Wing historian Jack Waid here.

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