After one heavy snowfall, 150 dogs carried more than 50 tons of food from the valley below to the snow bunkers and trenches hacked into the frozen peaks of northern France. At least 1,000 sled dogs worked in the mountains throughout the war.
Precise statistics are impossible to come by, but Charman says that the Allied armies may have had as many as 50,000 trained war dogs, and there was an equivalent number on the other side.
About 7,000 died in active service. Most of their names have been forgotten, and they are generally overlooked in scholarly accounts of the war. But the military dogs of World War I would have a far-ranging impact, in both war and peace. Dogs in this first modern war paved the way for more sophisticated uses of K-9 corps later on—from WWII’s Marine Devil Dogs (see GAZETTE, June 2006) to the bomb-sniffing sentries in Iraq. The first formal school to train guide dogs was opened in Potsdam, Germany, in 1923, to help blinded veterans, sparking a movement that would ultimately lead to the multitalented service dogs of today.
Bomb-ProofingGermany was the first to recognize the need for formal training, establishing the world’s first war-dog school in 1884, wrote Bryan D.Cummins in Colonel Richardson’s Airedales (Detselig Enterprises Ltd., 2003).
The school is credited with having introduced the idea of mercy” or “Red Cross” dogs—what the Germans called sanitätshunde or sanitary dogs—as well as refining the methods for training sentries, scouts, and messengers.
At the start of the war, Charman says, Germany had about 6,000 war dogs. The Allies had dogs too, but their efforts were not as well organized. Belgium had a tradition of using dogs as draft animals, and the French and Russians also had some dogs trained, although not as many as the Germans.”
But despite their legendary obsession with all things canine, in 1914 the British had not considered involving dogs in the fray. They had one war dog, an Airedale Terrier trained for sentry duty.
That would change, largely through the efforts of a dog trainer, Colonel Edwin Hautenville Richardson. Since the late 1800s, Richardson had been developing a training program for dogs to be used by the military and police. His research included visits to the German war-dog school.
Early in the century, Britain had no interest in Richardson’s work, so he provided trained dogs for other countries. Richardson Collies served as ambulance dogs for Russian troops during the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905). In 1907, another team—a Collie and a Bloodhound—were sent to guard a sultan’s palace, and Richardson speculated, his harem, in Istanbul.
The war had raged for two years before anyone in the British armed forces asked for Richardson’s help. “In the winter of 1916 I received a letter from an officer in the Royal Artillery, in which he expressed a great desire for trained dogs to keep up communication between his outpost and the battery, during heavy bombardment, when telephones are rendered useless and the risk to runners enormous,” Richardson wrote in British War Dogs.
“He asked if I would train some dogs to carry messages and I promised to do so.
What kind of records does the facility keep?
Hartsdale records are maintained on a network of eight computers. All burials and cremations are entered on a daily basis. All burial plots indicate the owner’s name and address, the pet’s name, type of care (perpetual or annual) type of flower care (perpetual or annual), plot size, monument information, etc. With respect to cremations all individual cremations include the cremation number, owner’s name and address, pet’s name, attending veterinarian or clinic, date of cremation, date pet’s remains returned, etc. In addition the cemetery maintains copies of burial right certificates, cremation certificates and pet records.
How can I be sure that I am getting my own pet's remains back?
As indicated above the pet holder can always make arrangements to be at Hartsdale for the cremation. However if the owner cannot be present they can be assured that the staff at Hartsdale takes great care in assuring that the pet owner gets the correct ashes back. They accomplish this by verifying/checking the paperwork that is generated from the specific description, case number if applicable, owners name and pets name. This is done at a minimum of three times and the cremation itself is then witnessed by two of our staff.
Can I witness the commencement of the cremation process?
Yes. Hartsdale has what is termed a witnessed cremation. What this entails is that the pet holder makes an appointment to be at Hartsdale at a specific time and date. Upon arriving, for their appointment the pet is placed into a temporary casket and the pet holder is able to spend time with the pet in our viewing room. When the pet owner is ready they may then follow the pet to the crematory and witness the pet going into the unit. Then when the cremation process is complete, normally between 1½ to 3 hours depending on the size of the pet, the pet holder leaves with the cremains.