Name:Harrison Location:United States

The Original Lovable Little Fuzzball

Here's the straight stuff.

The adventures of Harrison are true.
Try a few of his Crunchy Bites for a taste.
--Alpha Human Mom

Saturday, October 01, 2005

National Dog Week - VI - Part One

Just so ya' don't think we're all rip and tear, rip and tear… Rescue dogs have been around for thousands of years too.

One of the pioneers in the modern rescue business was (surprise) a terrier! A wire-haired fox terrier to be exact, who lived with "Bill" Barnet, a People's Royal Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA--only the Brits could come up with a name like that!) Vet Officer in charge of an Animal Rescue Squad during the Blitz.

Beauty used to go along when Barnet and his team searched the bomb damaged 1940's London for trapped pets. One night, while they were diggin' around, Beauty decided to lend a paw, diggin' on her own to find…

a cat! The little bugger was still livin', hidin' under a table. Boy, that was some selfless work--rescuin' a fe-lyin!

Eventually Beauty's efforts resulted in the rescue of sixty three animals that might otherwise have died. No word on how many were fe-lyings.

"The PDSA presented Beauty with the Pioneer Medal (normally awarded only to humans), and she received a silver mounted collar with a medal inscribed "For Services Rendered" from the Deputy Mayor of Hendon. This was presented by the Mayor of Salford where she was then living with her master who had been transferred there. In addition she was also given "the freedom of Holland Park and all the trees therein". But her greatest reward came in January 1945 when Admiral Sir Edward Evans presented her with the PDSA Dickin Medal for her gallantry. Her citation reads: "For being the pioneer dog in locating buried air raid victims while serving with the PDSA Rescue Squad"

The Dickin Medal was created by (and accordingly named for) Mrs Maria Dickin, founder of the PDSA, and was generally called "the animals VC" (Victoria Cross). It was given to any animal (even fe-lyings) who "displayed conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty associated with, or under the control of, any branch of the [British] Armed Forces or Civil Defence units during World War II and its aftermath."

Go here and scroll down for a partial list of other Dickin Medal recipients. Most recent was "Buster", a Springer Spaniel decorated for sniffin' out bomb-makin' equipment in Iraq. Previous recipients include thirty-two pigeons (it's a British medal, after all), twenty-three dogs, three horses and only one fe-lyin'.

But resuce and mercy dogs had been used lots of times before, like in the Russian Army durin' WWI.

(Continued in Read the Rest!)

Take, for example, this story from the biography Surgeon Grow: An American In The Russian Fighting, by Malcolm C. Grow, Lt. Colonel Imperial Russian Army Medical Corp.

Rescue Dog Sketch

"We had with us three Airedale terriers. They were trained to locate the wounded in thickets and brushy places where they could not be seen by our searching parties…"

Terriers again. Talk about your all purpose breed group.

"As we splashed through a communication trench, the dogs tugging at their leashes,… It was as dark as a pit as we entered the firstline trenches… In the occasional flicker of a rocket I could make out, halfway between our trenches and the Germans, a dark patch of scrubby weeds and stunted bushes. In this little thicket lay the wounded. The orderlies who had charge of the dogs lifted them up on the parapet, unsnapped their leashes, and spoke a sharp word of command: "Begone!"

"The dogs disappeared in the darkness of No Man's Land and were gone for quite a long time. I thought at first that they must have gone astray or that one of those scattering volleys from the German trenches had ended their mission of rescue. Tang! Something in our entanglements had struck a projecting piece of wire directly in front of me. A rocket shot up, and over the parapet a yard to my right I saw a shaggy head peering down. The dog held something in his mouth. I heard him whine softly... In the light of my electric torch I saw that he held in his mouth a crumpled, blood-stained cap. His master took the cap in his hand, snapped the leash on the dog's collar,…and crawled up after him, followed by two stretcher-bearers.

"The dog led them out through the barbed wire, tugging at his leash, and I followed the little party, curious to see whether he would find the owner of that cap… I crawled hurriedly on through the bush and found the little party kneeling about another dark object sprawled in the snow. The body was still warm but the hands were very cold and at the wrist I could feel only a tiny trickle of pulse. I passed my hand up to his head. The cap was gone and the hair was stiff and matted with frozen blood,… One of the orderlies had a first aid kit, and we hurriedly put on a dressing to keep the dirt out. We slid him on to the stretcher and started back, crawling and dragging the stretcher after us… The stretcher was carefully passed down to waiting hands below, and the wounded man wrapped in blankets, and we started back for the dressing station…

"Do the dogs ever take you to dead bodies?" I asked the orderly.

"No, Excellency, never," he replied. "They sometimes lead us to bodies which we think have no life in them, but when we bring them back the doctors, by careful examination, always find a spark though often very feeble. It is purely a matter of instinct, which, in this instance, is far more effective than man's reasoning powers."

You can say that again, Comrade.

posted by Harrison at 7:59 PM


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