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Remembering Dachshunds in combat, with soldiers in history, on Memorial Day

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Of course Memorial Day is to commemorate the brave people who served our country in military service—nothing can be more important than that. But, because this is a Dachshund column, it’s important to note that more than a few four-legged friends were comfort to soldiers, and sometimes in the battlefield (see the photo gallery).

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Dachshunds were used in WWII for things like seeking bombs, and finding food under armored vehicles. Sometimes, they were starved and the sent to battlefields with explosives attached to them.

One of the greatest YouTube videos is of two Dachshunds greeting a U.S. Navy man after eight months away in Kuwait. (See the attached video). Franklin is the black and tan male and Sally is the red/brown female. Both are two years old and both were rescue dogs

The soldier notes: “For more information contact Southern States Dachshund Rescue at ssdr.org and Dachshund Rescue of North America at drna.org for more dachshunds in need of a good home. They are the best dogs ever.”

There are some disturbing trends that wars have had on Dachshund history. See, the experts in the breed’s history (click here for more):

Here in the States both World Wars put serious strains on the Dachshund breed. World War I began in the year of 1914 and ended in 1918. In the four years of fighting and many years thereafter, owning anything German became a strict taboo. The social pressures were heavy and the Dachshund just about fell off the map here in the United States. Can you imagine someone not speaking to you, or doing business with you just because you own a Weiner dog or two? There were even reports of dogs literally stoned to death and people banished from communities for owning and breeding Dachshunds.

It got so bad that anything German was equated with disloyalty. Sauerkraut became "liberty cabbage" German measles "liberty measles," and dachshunds were "liberty pups."

And so, the national AKC tried to change the name of Dachshund to Badger Dogs, and “Wiener dogs” didn’t quite catch on. The breed became so shunted that the classic movie “Wizard of Oz” was originally written to have a DACHSHUND named Otto! But, with the pressures of German taboo, they recast the part to a Cairn Terrier, Toto.

A disturbing notation came in a diary by the son of Field Marshall Rommel in 1944, who was forced to commit suicide. The boy detailed the final moments of Rommel’s life, which included saying good-bye to his dog:

My father put his wallet carefully back in his pocket. As he went into the hall, his little Dachshund which he had been given as a puppy a few months before in France, jumped up at him with a whine of joy. 'Shut the dog in the study, Manfred,' he said, and waited in the hall with Aldinger while I removed the excited dog and pushed it through the study door. Then we walked out of the house together.

In a vintage photo of WWII, two American American soldiers are shown, one with a Dachshund on his lap and one with a pet raccoon resting on his shoulder.

According to the military archives (Hulton Archive), “the animals were good for the morale of the troops, many soldiers took him to the front of the pet. The UK and the U.S. Army Corps of all was their mascot as well.”

PFC. Floyd Gantzer, in the 17th Airborne who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, wrote about how dogs of war were used in combat support for years. He detailed 24 breeds, including Dachshunds, used, even in the American Army.

Gantzer talks about the Dachshund he acquired. He writes:

“I found a mother Dachshund that was about to die and she had five just-born babies. I got some powdered milk and fed them with an eye dropper,” he said. “Two of them lived. I gave one to the mess sergeant in Berlin and I kept the other one. “I called him Mike. I brought him home with me on the Queen Mary. No animals were allowed to come back to the States on the ship, so I hid him in my duffel bag. You should have seen all the dogs running around on the deck of the ship the second day at sea,” the old soldier said with a grin.

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