Wednesday, June 20, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 15

Santa Maria Sun / School Scene

The following article was posted on August 28th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 25 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 14, Issue 25

What Kids Are Reading: Dogs on Duty

by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent - recommended for ages 8 to 12


Did you know that some dogs are SEALS? Dorothy Hinshaw Patent opens her book with a hook that brings the reader into the gripping and fascinating world of Military Working Dogs (MWDs): “When people learned that a dog had been a key member of Navy SEAL Team Six in the successful raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound in May 2011, everyone wanted to know more about the dog.”

That dog’s name is Cairo, a Belgian Malinois, “... a breed especially well-suited to military use,” Patent explains.

She writes that “several of my books explore how dogs help humans in different ways.” This is especially true of Dogs on Duty: Soldiers' Best Friends on the Battlefield and Beyond, a terrific book about MWDs. Informative sections of text are paired with stunning photographs as Patent takes readers through the history of these heroic hounds. Their courageous feats are well documented, and their loyalty and natural compassion for their G.I. partners are beautifully illustrated in both words and images.

Patent provides an excellent narrative detailing these remarkable canines’ training and preparation for accompanying their handlers into war zones. She explains which breeds are best suited for military duty, what equipment they use (including night vision-equipped vests and “doggles”), and how their injuries are treated on the field of battle.

Military dogs have played vital roles in both World War I and II, as well as in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Patent shares touching stories about specific canines such as Stubby, who served in the First World War, and Eli, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. These dogs work hard, are selfless in the field, put their lives at risk every day without question, and offer comfort to their fellow troops.

The accompanying photographs are powerful visual testimony to what these MWDs do. There are amazing shots of dogs parachuting with paratroopers into war zones, as well as touching photos of dogs licking soldiers’ faces, tails a-wagging.

Patent also shares some hard truths. These dogs are still classified as equipment by the military. Sadly, many were left behind in Vietnam when U.S. troops pulled out of that country.

Military Working Dogs have long boldly served alongside the brave men and women in our armed forces, providing protection and affection, and saving numerous lives at the risk of their own.

This book is a wonderful read to share, especially now. Adult and young readers will gain new insight and respect for what these dogs do, as well as for all service dogs and pet  dogs, who give us aid and their unconditional love.


“What Kids are Reading” is a regular feature in the Sun, highlighting children’s books available for young readers in Santa Maria. This week’s recommendations are made by local writer, humorist, educator, grandmother, and dog-lover Ariel Waterman.

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