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1st national monument for war dogs honors four-legged pup soldiers of World War II and beyond

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The Military Working Dog Teams National Monument (Dogs For Defense Save Lives)

Fox News:

LOS ANGELES – The act of Congress is in the books, the bills are paid, the sculptures are being cast, and one of the biggest parades in the world will start a glory tour and countdown to dedication.

The first national monument to pay tribute to military dogs will be unveiled in California in just two months. The U.S. Working Dog Teams National Monument will honor every dog that has served in combat since World War II.

Some cities, cemeteries and military bases across the country already have such memorials. But none has been elevated to national monument level, where it will be in the company of the Statue of Liberty, Yosemite National Park and Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

In 2000, John Burnam, a 65-year-old veteran military dog handler, wrote a book called "Dog Tags of Courage." A year later, he got an email from a reader wondering why there were no national monuments to the dogs of war.

In "Dog Tags" and a 2008 book, "A Soldier’s Best Friend," Burnam wrote about his time with the Army’s 44th Scout Dog Platoon when he was in Vietnam in 1967 and 1968.

His first dog, Timber, was injured in an ambush a few months after they teamed up, so he spent most of his tour with a German shepherd named Clipper.

"He saved my life and saved the lives of others by alerting on ambushes, snipers and booby traps. I wanted to give something back to these animals that have done so much and asked for so little, except for food and water and the love of their handlers," said Burnam, who received the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

Back then, handlers were not able to adopt their dogs when they were retired.

"I always worried about them but I know they died over there and they died as heroes," he said.

In 2004, Burnam and two other dog handler veterans pursued the idea in earnest, forming the John Burnam Monument Foundation Inc. But it took two more years, until he met Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., that the monument project started to take shape.

In 2007, Jones introduced legislation authorizing establishment of the monument. Passed unanimously by Congress, it was signed the next year by President George W. Bush, then amended and signed by President Barack Obama.

Burnam designed the monument, which depicts the modern military handler and four dogs — a Doberman, German shepherd, Labrador retriever and Belgian Malinois, all breeds used in wars.

The silicon bronze handler stands more than 9 feet tall and weighs 1,500 pounds. Each dog is about 5 feet tall and weighs 550 pounds. Burnam called them "hero-sized."

The figures will stand on a pedestal, in front of a large granite wall. One side of the wall will have photos etched in black marble veneer showing dog teams in combat from the different wars. The other side will have an inscription written by Burnam.

The sculptor, Paula Slater, said it was the largest and most complex monument she had ever done. She worked for thousands of hours, saying that finishing a project of that size "is like giving birth to a baby — five of them."

The money for the monument came slowly. Burnam made one of many fundraising pitches on the reality TV show "Who Let the Dogs Out," featuring Tillman, the skateboarding, surfing and snowboarding bulldog. The president of Natural Balance Pet Foods Inc., the company that Tillman represents, attended the show taping and volunteered to pitch in more than $1 million.

"Don’t do a thing. Natural Balance and Petco (Animal Supplies Inc.) will take care of it," Joey Herrick said. To raise funds for the monument and its maintenance, Natural Balance created a jerky bark treat sold by Petco. Maddie’s Fund, a family-funded pet rescue foundation, also signed on as a corporate sponsor.

The public will get a sneak peak of the monument at the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena on Jan. 1, when a floral replica will be used as Natural Balance’s float. Burnam, dogs and handlers from every military service branch will ride on it.

When the float goes on display afterward at Victory Park, the real bronze monument will make its public debut next to it, Herrick said. Then the bronze monument will go on tour as it heads to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. The location was chosen as the site for the monument because that’s where most of the nation’s military’s dogs are trained.

Meanwhile, Tillman, the dog that helped get Burnam the monument funding, is also getting personal recognition for his military service. For his work entertaining troops at bases and for going through a mini Marine boot camp, the athletic bulldog has been made an honorary private 1st class.

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November 12, 2012 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Dogs, Dogs, Holidays With Pets, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, NO KILL NATION, Pet and Animal Training, Political Change, Service and Military Animals, Toughen Animal Abuse Laws and Sentences, We Are All God's Creatures, Working and Military Dogs and Related | , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Honoring military dogs on Veteran’s Day

Today is Veteran’s Day, when the country honors the service men and women who have given up so much to ensure our freedom. And right alongside those human warriors canine soldiers offer service, trained to protect the troops and keep them from harm.

On Nov. 7 a special ceremony was held on Capitol Hill with the American Humane Association, a Tribute to War Heroes on Both Ends of the Leash.

The reception was made possible by Virginia Congressman Jim Moran, the co-chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus. Rep. Moran represents Virgina’s 8th district, which includes Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax County, Reston and Falls Church.

Special guests at the ceremony included a man whose guide dog saved his life by leading him down 78 flights of stairs in the World Trade Center on 9/11, and two military working dogs who served in Iraq.

Watch Fox channel 5’s story: DC Tribute Honors Military Dogs.

Speaking of hero dogs, the Hallmark Channel is premiering the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards tonight at 8:00 p.m. EST. Eight canine finalists will be honored for their devotion, bravery and companionship. The dogs were selected in a nationwide online search and represent categories of working dogs including service, therapy, military, law enforcement and arson, hearing, guide, and search and rescue.

Dogs aren’t just helping our military during combat tours, either. Organizations such as Pets2Vets, based here in Arlington, are rescuing shelter dogs and training them to help veterans cope with combat duty-related issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Read about P2V founder Dave Sharpe in a Two Dog Tales blog post from last year.

Our human and canine military protectors deserve to be honored every single minute of every day for all they do for us. Make sure to thank a vet today.

Source:  The Examiner

Canine Military Hero

Read: (and See Below) the Great Story of Nubs the Dog and His Marine

Video: Nubbs:  The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine, and a Miracle

Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle – Get Book

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November 12, 2011 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Dogs, Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Working and Military Dogs and Related | , , , , | 16 Comments