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War Dogs Visit the Hopkinton Senior Center

By Stephanie Kane, News Producer

A dog is known as a man's best friend. And as those who attended a presentation at the Senior Center on October 17th learned that nowhere is that statement more accurate than in the battlefield, where since World War II, dogs have served alongside those in the military and have helped decrease the number of causalities in wars. Due to a dog's keen sense of smell, sight, and hearing, they have been used, and are still used, to identify IEDs, booby traps, and enemy ambushes sooner than a human can.

The presentation was led by military dog historian Michael Lemish. Lemish, who never served in the military himself, became interested in researching about the history of dogs who serve in wars after reading a book about the Vietnam War. He soon learned that the last book on military dogs was published in 1955. That discovery led to Lemish writing a book about the subject entitled "War Dogs - Canines in Combat" in 1996. The book was republished in paperback in 1999 and was renamed " War Dogs, a History of Loyalty and Heroism" and focused on the true stories of those who served in the military during various wars and the four-legged companions who served alongside them.

At the presentation, Lemish was also joined by Lucy, a German Shepherd that he adopted about three years ago. Unlike Lemish, Lucy was being trained to serve in the military. However, similarly to Lemish, Lucy never had a chance to actually serve.

Robert Kollar, a scout dog handler during the Vietnam War, also joined Lemish to share his story. Kollar served with his scout dog, Rebel, from 1968 through 1969.

Although there is currently no national medal in the United States to recognize the sacrifices, bravery, and service of military dogs, both Lemish and Kollar undoubtedly believe that military dogs are heroes.

Watch the HCAM News video to hear the story!

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