War Dogs Heroes
F.A.S.T. Company


Protocols for testing prospective adoptive dogs,
A questionaire for prospective adoptive humans.
A list of (As of 01 Nov., 2001) twelve (12) dogs that are available for adoption.
Veterans to honormilitary dogs 
Special to The Union Leader NH  6/17/02
BARRINGTON — Unlike the memorials to those who’ve served the nation’s military, a dedication next Saturday will pay tribute to the canines that have served. After a story about dogs that served during wars appeared in the New Hampshire Sunday News and in a Parade magazine article in April 2001, Bonnie-Lee and Clayton Bousquin started to think about honoring the four-footed heroes. Clayton, who is the commander of American Legion Post 114 in Barrington, researched the subject of war dogs, and decided that a war dog memorial was a worthy cause. “You see statues all over for everybody except war dogs,” said Bonnie-Lee, who is president of the legion’s auxiliary. On June 22, at 2 p.m., Post 114 will dedicate a memorial to all war dogs at the Pine Grove Cemetery in Barrington. Where to put the memorial was an easy decision for the Bousquins and members of the Legion Post. A remembrance stone dedicated to all veterans stands in Pine Grove Cemetery behind the Barrington Historical Society building. Because the area is already a memorial site, the only formality needed was town approval. In March, the Bousquins went before selectmen and presented their plan. Town Administrator Carol Reilly said selectmen gave unanimous consent to the proposal. There are other memorials dedicated to war dogs in the United States, but not many. “I’m extremely proud that the town of Barrington and the American Legion will be leading the way in doing just that, paying tribute to (war dogs),” Reilly said. The history of military dogs in America began in 1942. After Pearl Harbor, some Americans showed support for the war effort by donating dogs for service. Dogs were generally mascots for military units before then. One of the most perilous tasks for a dog was as a scout. They are trained to detect mines and enemy troops when walking point with a military dog handler. Walking point means the dog and its handler go into enemy territory ahead of military units. They are the first to find — and face — hidden dangers. During most wars, a dog’s tour of duty would end with retraining so that it could live out its life as a domestic dog. At the end of Vietnam, service dogs were treated differently, according to Bonnie-Lee. “These dogs were killed by our government because they were nothing more than equipment,” she said. Many dogs were put down or sold to foreign governments when the Vietnam War ended. Official records are hard to find concerning actual numbers, but veterans of the war have their own stories. Toby Weir of Durham worked with sentry dogs while he was in Vietnam from 1967 to ’68. He remembers his dog Foxey from the Phu Cat air base. “If my dog hadn’t alerted...who knows what would have happened to me,” he said. Weir and Foxey patrolled the beach side of the air base. Monsoon season was in full force on one of the first nights that Weir walked the post with Foxey, and the wind pummeled them with sand. Weir turned his back to the ocean to try to protect his face from the stinging assault, but that meant he wasn’t alert to what might be happening on the beach. But Foxey was. The dog’s ears and the fur on his back went up; his body went rigid. One thing Foxey didn’t do was bark. Noise would have given away their position and made them targets for the enemy soldiers that Weir could now see along the shore. Weir called in the alert and then moved back to keep Foxey out of the line of fire when more soldiers moved in to defend the base. “My dog was on the ball, he knew someone was coming in toward my post,” said Weir. That night was only one of many when Weir and Foxey walked their post. Every night held the same possibility that darkness and silence would erupt into flares and gunfire, according to Weir. Government training gave a man and a dog a reason to work together, but working as a team created a bond that Weir values to this day. When Weir left Phu Cat in January of 1968 he offered to buy Foxey because he had grown so attached to the dog. Officials at the base told Weir that Foxey was government property and couldn’t be bought. It is difficult for Weir to think about leaving Foxey after his tour of duty. “If it wasn’t for my dog I wouldn’t be here right now,” he said with a strained voice. “I’m pretty sure of it.” John McCollett of Barrington also worked with a scout dog in Vietnam, and he has worked on the Barrington memorial along with Clayton and two other handlers, Douglas Boyd, who will be speaking at the ceremony, and Bill Barbeau. Honoring military dogs is what attracted McCollett’s interest. “Due to the fact that it’s about the dogs and not about us we agreed to do it,” he said, speaking for himself and the two other handlers. Weir has collected more than $100 toward the legion’s goal of between $2,500 and $3,000. All of the funding for the memorial comes from private donations and will cover the cost of the statue and the ceremony on June 22. So far, about half of the money for the memorial has been collected. Any extra money will go to the upkeep of the site. Members of Post 114 also have collection cans in businesses, such as Calef’s Country Store and the Oyster River Veterinary Hospital. Sergeant-at-arms for the post, Joe Bystrek, is in charge of picking up the collections. A recent pickup was around $160, but the amounts have varied from week to week. Bystrek is also in charge of seeking donations from local businesses. One thing that he won’t be able to tell business owners, however, is what the memorial will look like. He knows that it’s a statue, but the details have been kept secret by the Bousquins. Bystrek didn’t seem too concerned with not knowing. To him, it’s the fact that they’re paying tribute to war dogs. “That’s an important part of our history,” he said. Donations for the war dog memorial can be sent to: American Legion Post 114 PO Box 532, Barrington 03525. Checks should be made out to American Legion Post 114, with war dog memorial written in the memo space. 

On the Net: Vietnam Dog Handler’s Association: www.vdhaonline.org 

QuarterMaster’s war dog history: www.qmfound.com/K-9.htm 

WW II veteran went to the ‘dogs’
By: Harry Hanson 
When Jerry Vandesteeg enlisted in the Navy in 1942, he was expecting possible duty on an aircraft carrier, destroyer, or maybe a landing barge. Little did he expect his military career would "go to the dogs" when he volunteered and became assigned to the canine corps. The recent attack on the World Trade Center towers and the insidious anthrax infestation makes known that terrorist attacks can come in many forms. During World War II attacks were expected from Nazi submarine units after eight German saboteurs were apprehended along the Long Island, N.Y. beaches. America prepared for any eventuality. The U.S. Coast Guard dogs which corralled the saboteurs were trained by Navy boatswain-mate Jerry Vandesteeg and 24 of his volunteers in training dogs for heroic missions. "I volunteered (generally against military custom) to be one of 25 recruits to learn to train others for guarding our coastline and military installations," said Vandesteeg, a lifelong Sauk Centre resident. "My background for signing on had been owning, training, and using two black Labradors for hunting as a youth. I also helped a local veterinarian, Dr. Yaeger." The 25 volunteers provided the nucleus of the first canine corps deemed necessary by the War and Navy Departments. Four kinds of dogs were quickly earmarked for training. Citizens were at first paid for giving up their pets. Once the word got out, it became the patriotic thing to do in the military's goal of quickly obtaining 125,000 dogs for the purpose of defense. Sometimes as many as 500 dogs arrived in a single day, according to Vandesteeg. Dogs arrived in varying degrees of obeying primary orders. It took an average of three months to train a dog, only ten days to train the individual recipient of a trained dog. A military recruit stayed with his own dog; he fed and groomed his candidate throughout the training period. Conventional terms were used in the training process. "Forward, right, left, to the rear" were given (not barked out); others universally known were “halt,” “sit,” “stay,” and “get him.” "Dogs were culled out which would not be suitable for the three months of training," recalled Vandesteeg. "Immediately all small breeds were discarded. So were St. Bernards and Great Danes for being too slow in the field." Dogs from two to five years were the best ones to be recruited. The four types mainly used were divided into "pack" and "attack" dogs. black Labs and Burmese mountain dogs formed one group and German shepherds and Doberman pincers another. When more dogs were needed, giant schnauzers, Airedales, and boxers were added to the mix. "The pack dogs were taught to carry homing pigeons in crates, or a 30-caliber machine gun with 1500 rounds of ammunition on their stomachs while crawling on the ground when required of them," said Vandesteeg. "A sentry could pull off the strap and have the machine gun ready to fire within two minutes." The "attack dogs" were trained to remain docile, even to total strangers. However, once the leash was dropped and the command "Get him" was given, the dog would run a city block or more to get at the targeted person," cited Vandesteeg. In one training sequence, Vandesteeg, dressed in protective garb, was the target. The pursuing dog aimed at his neck, and almost succeeded until being fended off by another trainer. Instructed 25 Coast Guardsmen at a time Initially, it was the duty of Vandesteeg and each of his cohorts to train 25 Coast Guardsmen at a time. Soon, enough were trained to man all of the beach territory from Bangor, Maine to Miami, Fla. The training site was in the secluded hills at Fort Royal, Va., where tents were home to men and a large kennel for each dog.  Once enough dogs were trained to man beaches, military installations, war industries, and infrastructure such as bridges etc., were added. Jerry's next phase of duty took him to a naval base at St. Simons Island, Ga. "The new and highly efficient Norden bomb sight was being installed on all patrol bombers and blimps in searching out whalelike forms in the ocean," he said. "Enemy agents were suspected of being ready to infiltrate through a large swamp on the west side of the base wishing to capture one of these new devices." Dogs were needed to assist sentries in protecting the base. Then married, Vandesteeg’s final Navy venture took the couple to a Navy base in Seattle. No longer needing dogs to be trained, he became a yeoman, typing messages.  "Not everyone in the military got to write out their own discharge papers like I did," he remembered. "I didn't cheat to get out of the service sooner. At the time I had more than a sufficient number of points required to get back to civilian life." In returning to Sauk Centre where Jerry had grown up, the couple took over his father’s jewelry store on Main St. Jerry went to a watch-making school which coincided with the likes of a jewelry store. Now 81 and fully retired, Jerry and Vernette spend half of each year in Sauk Centre and half in Destin, Fl.

By Associated Press, 12/4/2001 09:28
CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) A former Marine is leading a statewide campaign to honor the scout, tracker, sentry, tunnel and water dogs who served in Vietnam. Ron Aiello and his group want to raise as much as $80,000 for a bronze sculpture of a soldier and a dog which will be erected at the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans' Memorial in Holmdel. Group members of the United States War Dogs Association Inc., Chapter 1, of the Vietnam Dog Handlers Association/ Northeast Region have raised about $11,000 already. ''It will be the first official state war dog memorial,'' Aiello, 57, of Burlington Township, told the Courier-Post of Cherry Hill. While in the Marines, Aiello worked with a scout dog named Stormy who led a patrol through a village near Da Nang. The dog was trained to detect the enemy, bombs or any traps. ''You never second-guessed your dog,'' Aiello said. ''Your dog was always right.'' Only 190 of the 4,000 dogs that served in Vietnam made it back to the United States. ''After all they did for us, and all the lives they saved, we thought they would come home and be put up for adoption,'' Aiello said.

Statue honors a dog named Buck
By Sheryl Marsh   DAILY Staff Writer  Nov. 25, 2001
The setting is a crossroads called Danville in Tennessee. The scene moves to Decatur when military veterans hear about the loyalty of a dog
named Buck to his master, Frank Bush, who died in World War I. Members of the Disabled American Veterans, Chapter 11, plan to honor the dog this spring by placing a statue and a cross on his grave. They heard of the story of Buck and Frank from Jewel N. Adams, a World War II veteran, who says his wife found a written account of it in her mother's Bible after she died in the 1970s. "It was such a touching story that I wanted to share it with everybody. I framed it and all who have read it were captivated by it," Adams said. "It is such a pure story of devotion. What if people were like that, giving all or nothing? This world would be a much better place." Adams has the story memorized and tells it like this: "Buck was a puppy when his owner brought him home sometime before he went to war in 1918. The dog was grown when Bush left him with his parents in Danville and every day he would run to meet visitors and was sad when none of them was his owner. "Then, Oct. 12, 1918, news came that Bush had been killed and his body was sent home. Buck put any doubt of the soldier's identity to rest when he sniffed his master and started to whine and wail. The family buried Bush in a family plot near the home and from that day on Buck stayed on that grave. He left only for meals and then he hurried back. "Buck's health started to fail him, he became feeble and could not walk. The soldier's father began to take his meals to his sacred spot and one day he found Buck dead. "I guess it was only proper for a dog that loyal to be buried next to his master and so that's where he is today and that's where we are goingin a few months, maybe in March, to mount this life-like statute of him on his grave," Adams said. Disabled American Veterans members all gave donations to pay for the statue, which cost about $300, Adams said.

Animal War Dead Saluted (West Australia)
By Eloise Dortch - November, 2001
JUST like soldiers, dogs in the Australian army's bomb detection unit have their own rank and number. They work hard to protect others,
but unlike their human counterparts, they rarely get accolades. A memorial unveiled at the RSPCA animal welfare centre in Malaga
this week bucks the trend. It bears the message:
"Lest we forget the animals that served the men who served their country".
Horses, dogs, camels, cats and dolphins have suffered in military operations,
according to RSPCA spokeswoman Rachael Cochrane. Many hard-working animals - such as 400,000 horses taken to Europe in 1942 -
were abandoned after the war, Ms Cochrane said. Such was nearly the fate of german shepherds Mick and Duke and shepherd cross Tia -
sent overseas in 1993 to Somalia. With little protection, the dogs quickly found hidden weapons,
ammunition, grenades and bombs. Former handler Seamus Doherty, who trained Mick and spent 4 1/2,* months with him in Somalia,
said fierce protest had ensured the dogs were brought home. But when medals were handed out, the canine heroes went unrecognised.
"They were soldiers and had done a job in the army," he said.
November 10, 2001 -- VETERANS DAY PART 3
Tomorrow is Veterans Day. Americans will salute everyone who has served in our armed forces, including the 1 million soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who gave their lives to help preserve our freedom. To honor our veterans, the New York Post is profiling local heroes who served our nation during its times of need in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm. When John O'Donnell saw the indelible scene of rescue dogs pawing through the wreckage of the World Trade Center, he did a 30-year flashback - to the jungles of Vietnam, when he ran his own K-9 operation against a different kind of enemy. "They were magnificent," said O'Donnell of the NYPD's dogs and other canine units who assisted. "They were on the front lines again, where they're supposed to be - up front, leading the way." O'Donnell, who was with the Air Force's special police from 1968 to 1970, was shot down no fewer than six times from troop-carrying "Huey" helicopters. And, like the other American dog handlers, had a price on his head.  "I don't know what their reward was, but I do know they had to show some proof - either taking an ear off the dog or the arm patch off the soldier," said O'Donnell, 52, of Brooklyn. "The VC [Viet Cong] hated us, because they couldn't run and they couldn't hide - the dogs would find them." Even if the enemy took refuge under water, there was no stopping the German shepherds, primarily used for attack, or the Labradors, who were the trackers. "They could smell the enemy's breath from the bamboo shoots," O'Donnell related. "Or they would see the air bubbles. They were amazing." And tenacious. When the Vietnamese would launch one of their hit-and-run attacks, they often found the running was the tough part. The dogs would be unleashed to catch up with the attackers so the GIs could then strike back on their own terms.  Some 4,000 dogs served in Vietnam, with 350 dying in action, O'Donnell said, a total equal to the number of handlers who died. O'Donnell said his dog, "King," was a born-and-bred Staten Islander - who was destroyed with more than 1,000 others at the end of the Vietnam conflict.  "They were classified as armaments," said Maureen Johnson of the War Dog Memorial Fund.  As South Vietnam collapsed, the dogs were gathered together and placed in quarantine.
"About 200 were redeployed, and the South Vietnamese army got about 700," said John Burnam, president of the Vietnam Dog Handlers Association. "The rest, about 1,500, were euthanized."  The Vietnam Dog Handlers Association (www.vdha.org) raised $80,000 in seed money for a proposed memorial it wants erected somewhere on the Washington Mall, perhaps on a path near the Vietnam Memorial.
Ins and Outs of Adopting a Military Dog 
Friday, May 04, 2001 - By Robert F. Patrick
WASHINGTON — Once a dog is declared "excess" by the Defense Department — meaning it cannot be used in another capacity by the military — it becomes a candidate for adoption. But adopting a military dog is not as simple as going down to the local pound for a pooch. The military first evaluates both the dog and the potential owner, before requiring that the adopting family sign an agreement holding the government harmless should the dog return to its old, warlike ways. "There are a lot of people out there who are interested," said Maj. John Probst, commander of the military working dog school at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. Probst cautions that the dogs have spent eight to 10 years of their lives being trained to have aggressive tendencies. Families must understand the full working capacity of the dog and "how potentially dangerous this dog can be," and must view slides of military dog bites to show them the potential danger.  Before they are turned over for adoption, dogs are evaluated for medical condition and temperament, which includes their bite history and their possessiveness toward things like their food bowl and kennel, Probst said. The size and makeup of the potential adopting family is also evaluated, as well as yard size and the number of hours the dog would be left at home alone. The new owner must agree to provide good medical care, Probst said. The military also demands a notarized "hold harmless" agreement to protect it from liability should the dog attack. The military had long opposed adoption of service dogs, until the liability issue was worked out. But Probst cautions that the program is still a work in progress. "There's a lot of things we haven't figured out yet," he said. A dog could have had as many as 10 to 12 handlers during his career, for example, and officials have not figured out who would get preference in a dispute. Police departments have long been able to adopt the dogs and they lead the current list of potential adopters, followed by previous handlers and others who are humanely capable of caring for the animal, Probst said. So far only one dog, Ronny, has been successfully adopted. The adoption of a second dog, Arno, is pending, Probst said. Both dogs are 11-year-old Belgian Malinois. Lackland spokesman Gary Emery said recently that the base had only received two other serious inquiries about adopting dogs. But Probst predicts that of the almost 2,000 military working dogs, as many as 15 could be adopted each year once the program is fully implemented. Capital News Service contributed  to this report

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