France Honors Hero Dogs, Highlights Their Achievements

Sip, France—From tracking suspects in the 2015 Paris attacks to fighting extremists in the Sahel region of Africa, dogs have claimed the lives of French soldiers, police and rescue workers for more than a century. I saved you.

France this week opened a memorial honoring all “civil and military hero dogs” in honor of their four-legged partners. It features a sculpture by French-Colombian artist Milton of a World War I soldier and his dog cuddling up.

The monument is in front of the town hall of Suippes, part of the region of northeastern France where major battles were fought during World War I. This placement recognizes the important role dogs played in the U.S. and European armies of the time.

Suippes also has Europe’s largest military kennel, where members of the French Army’s 132nd Canine Infantry Regiment train dogs for military service. The regiment now consists of 650 army personnel and his 550 dogs.

The tribute monument to the hero dog was an initiative of the French kennel club, Centrale Canine. Army Regiment animals wore military medals and attended a ceremony Thursday to inaugurate the memorial.

French hero dog
A French soldier with his dog Olaf takes center stage during a ceremony in Suippes, eastern France, on October 20, 2022. (Christophe Ena/AP Photo)

“It is very important [recognition] Dogs perform tasks like humans do, but they don’t ask for their opinion. So for me it makes sense to give them back their medals, ”said Johann, a lieutenant in the combat unit.

He and other human members of the unit could only be identified by their first names for security reasons related to their military status.

Suippes’ regiment prepares dogs for a combat area tasked with sniffing out and tracking down potential enemies. Some are trained to detect explosives and drugs. Each dog is paired with a soldier.

A member of the regiment for 12 years, Johan is now paired with a Dutch Shepherd named Nasky. He has never lost a dog during his act, but he has lost a dog to his colleagues.

“This is important from a psychological point of view and very difficult for handlers. But in that moment we challenge ourselves [to continue] With the dogs gone, we are still infantry and we must be able to continue our mission,” he said.

The regiment’s recruits are involved in French operations abroad, including in the Sahel region of Africa, West Africa and the Middle East. They are also sent to work on domestic missions and overseas French territories, such as fighting gold trafficking in French Guiana.

Dogs selected for training are often adopted as puppies, but most are 18 months old. Many come from France, some from the Netherlands, Germany and countries in Eastern Europe.

They are put through a series of tests to see if they are eager to chew, play with pleasure, and are not easily startled in stressful environments. soldier said.

“We make great use of their sense of smell, their sight, and their physical abilities, so we have a lot of Belgian and German Shepherd dogs who can run and are tolerant of heat and cold,” said a member of the dog corps. One Audrey explained. “They are very hardworking dogs.”

Dogs retire when they are no longer on a mission. Audrey intends to leave her partner Mookie at home when the time comes. She explained that “the handler is in the best position to choose a family” for a retired dog.

“We, as handlers, try to do this the best we can … dogs, depending on the character. Some dogs may also have post-traumatic stress disorder,” she said. Told.

France created the first department for training active duty dogs during World War I. They searched for wounded soldiers, alerted sentries, and carried messages, food, and ammunition on the front lines of the 1914-1918 war.

At a ceremony in France on Thursday, Diesel, a police dog killed in a raid targeting the mastermind of the 2015 Paris attacks, and a French army assault dog killed by militants in Mali in 2019, among others. I paid tribute to Ryuk.

Associated Press