"In recent conflicts, dogs and the military have come together and helped each other through the horrors they both faced"
Russ, our Dog Warden, shares why he wears a purple poppy for Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday.
Read the latest blog post from Russ below:
This is my last blog before Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday and for the second year running I won’t be in the country to pay my respects to my friends, colleagues and all those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for us all.
Since being your Dog Warden I’ve always taken at least one of my dogs to Worthing’s War Memorial service on Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday Service, so last year it felt strange not doing so.
However with the help of the internet I found a lovely British church and really enjoyed the service which was attended by a large number of British tourists together with the ex-pats who made us feel really welcome.
Some of you may have seen or even wear a purple poppy.
For those of you who haven’t and wonder what it symbolises, they were first introduced in 2006 by the charity Animal Aid to commemorate the animal victims of war. Their aim was to make it clear that animals used in warfare are indeed victims, not heroes. They did not give their lives, their lives were taken from them because obviously animals cannot volunteer and have no choice in becoming involved in war when they serve alongside human military personnel.
We’ve all seen military dogs working as guard dogs, sniffer dogs etc. But during the war they were used to take the wounded from the battlefield, to deliver messages and move arms and food to the front line.
At least one country used them as suicide bombers, strapping explosives to them and training them to run towards enemy tanks where the explosives would be detonated by soldiers a safe distance away. Another method was for dogs to lay on railway tracks and the explosives were detonated when an enemy train was approaching.
It’s impossible to say how many animals have been killed directly or indirectly as a result of war. It is estimated that nearly 750,000 domesticated animals, mostly cats and dogs were euthanized in Britain over the course of one week at the start of World War Two. This came about because in the summer of 1939, just before the outbreak of war, the National Air Raid Precautions Animals Committee (NARPAC) drafted a notice: Advice to Animal Owners.
The pamphlet said: "If at all possible, send or take your household animals into the country in advance of an emergency." It concluded: "If you cannot place them in the care of neighbours, it really is kindest to have them destroyed."
The advice was printed in almost every newspaper and announced on the BBC. The pamphlet set off a wave of panic. As there were no rations provided for pets, it was thought euthanasia was a humane decision rather than watching a beloved animal die slowly from starvation or disease. As the war progressed across Europe, this same trend went with it.
On a happier note, in recent conflicts, dogs and the military have come together and helped each other through the horrors they both faced.
If you want to read an inspirational tale of compassion and dedication and find out how one soldier's encounter with a stray dog changed both of their lives forever and how it led to the charity Nowzad being formed, I can recommend Pen Farthing’s books One Dog at a Time and No Place like Home. But a word of warning, you may well need a box of tissues on standby!!
"We Will Remember Them".