Veterans Day is when we honor and thank veterans for their service and sacrifice. Our servicemen and women make sacrifices every day, and right beside them are military dogs.

Military dogs serve around the world. Although you may have heard of military dogs, you might be surprised to learn these 3 facts about military dogs and veteran military dogs:

1. There are about 2,500 active duty military dogs, around 500 of which are deployed overseas. 

Dogs serve in the military in a number of ways. They are trained to track enemies, detect bombs (and can detect a bomb within 98 percent accuracy!), and can locate drugs. They are also trained to attack when necessary. These dogs are truly remarkable and deserve a round of appaws.

Sadly, according to San Antonio Magazine, dogs that are deployed overseas often come back suffering from PTSD, just like their human soldier counterparts. Like human veterans, dogs may require special treatment after returning from deployment and may benefit from medical cannabis.

Oftentimes, because military dogs are so bonded to their handlers, they will retire when the handler retires. If the dog retires before the handler, the canine soldier can either become a police dog or can be adopted and live as a civilian. Structure and obedience are very important for veteran military dogs, and adoption requirements are strict.

2. Four military dogs have won a Medal of Courage

The Medal of Courage is one of the highest honors, and is only awarded for extremely courageous behavior. This year, on May 22, four dogs who put their lives on the line to protect and defend the U.S. were awarded the Medal of Courage. The four recipients included:

  • Jag, a 12-year-old Labrador retriever who served with the Army for seven years.
  • Taba, a 9-year-old Dutch shepherd who served as an Army Special Forces multipurpose canine.
  • Summer, a 7-year-old Labrador retriever who served in Afghanistan and is now a member of a TSA K-9 team for the Amtrak Police Department in Washington, D.C.
  • Taker, a 12-year-old Labrador retriever who served with the Marine Corps in Iraq and Afghanistan.

3. Dogs have served in the military in nearly every U.S. conflict, and even date back before that to Ancient Greece. But, dogs were not recognized as members of the military until WWII.

During WWI, a military dog named Stubby was snuck into the war and paved the way for other military dogs. Stubby made his place in the military by sniffing out toxic enemy gas, barking when the enemy drew near, and even helped locate wounded soldiers. Because of Stubby, dogs were finally recognized as valuable members of the military by WWII.

If you ask any dog owner, they will tell you: dogs can be the most giving, selfless creatures on earth. These military dogs prove just that. This Veterans Day, we hope you take some time to thank a veteran and thank military dogs and their handlers.