Wolf and Prince, two Airedales (Richardson’s preferred breed, along with Collies, for military work), learned how to make two-mile message runs. They would prove their worth at the Battle of Vimy Ridge on April 9, 1917. “All the telephones were broken and visual signaling was impossible,” noted a military report. “The dogs were the first to bring through the news.”
The success of these Airedales on the western front, Charman says, led to the establishment of Britain’s war-dog program, which ultimately would involve about 12,000 dogs during the war.
A key component of training was getting the recruits accustomed to the relentless roar of battle. “The first training each day is the firing drill,” Richardson wrote. “Dogs would be led into a large shed, where keepers would fire round after round of blanks.”
Food was also used. “A war dog’s dinner bell is a bomb,” noted a Boston Globe reporter, who was visiting a French war-dog school in 1916. “When all is ready for the meal, men standing near dugout craters close to the kennels throw in fused hand grenades. … there are terrific explosions with clouds of smoke and dust. The dogs are not frightened, for they have been taught that explosions are merely the prelude to a meal. As the grenades go off, the ‘dog men’ run down the line, pushing each dog’s plate of food within reach, so that all are served at the same time.”
Winged Dog of VerdunMessengers like Wolf and Prince were behind some of the war’s most thrilling stories of canine heroism, and newspapers breathlessly covered their exploits.
“Dogs have carried messages between posts three miles apart, arriving infallibly at their destinations, and returning to the point of departure, fearless of the shells and deaf to any appeals made to them en route,” an Associated Press correspondent marveled in 1916. “Not even the frequent upheaval of the ground over which they have once passed and the confusion of trails can put them off their course.”
By delivering his message through one of the war’s most horrifying battles, one dog—Satan of Verdun—became the “most famous of hundreds of highly trained messenger dogs on the Western front,” in the eyes of no less an authority than author Albert Payson Terhune.
Satan was a French liaison dog. These dogs were trained to carry messages, rolled up in canisters on their collars, back and forth between points, allowing soldiers to carry on a conversation of sorts.
During the siege of Verdun, a French garrison was trapped in a village, with enemy guns all around.
The soldiers were about to lose hope, when they spotted what they thought was a battlefield apparition, like the Angel of Mons. It seemed to be a dog, with wings and a massive head with bug eyes, galloping toward them.
As the form moved closer, the men realized the image was not only very real, but someone they knew very well.
It was Satan. The four-legged messenger had almost reached his destination when he lurched sideways and fell. “A German bullet had found him,” Terhune wrote. “He staggered to his feet, reeling and dizzy. For an instant he seemed to have lost his way. Then he settled into that steady run again.”
Another bullet tore into his leg, but Satan would not be stopped. He made it to his destination, and collapsed. What had appeared to be bug eyes was a gas mask, and the wings were two cages containing carrier pigeons.With the pigeons, the French managed to get a cry for help to their comrades, and they were saved.
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.