Hermes' Wings

History, Writing and Personal Musings

normandy – dog

A sergeant of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps bandages “Jasper,” a mine-detecting dog which was wounded in the ear by an explosion at Bayeux on 5 July 1944. While the exact number of war dogs in British army service is unclear, the Americans used 10,420 animals in service — many of whom had been “volunteered” by their owners. The US Army quickly set about trying to train dogs to detect non-metallic mines which were impossible to find using detectors. The training was near barbaric. Running a light electrical current through buried objects which would shock the animal if it were to come in contact with them, the Americans believed that this would teach the dogs to fear buried objects. It instead introduced neurosis into the animals and in 1944, the training program was scrapped. The British approach was better. Animals which sniffed out buried objects were rewarded with treats. Sixty-four dogs served with the British 21st Army Group as mine-detectors in Western Europe. “Jasper’s” final fate, however, is unknown.

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