A Dog’s Life in the Trenches

World War II hero Smoky

During WWII, Americans were asked to do their part. Women cut off their Veronica Lake bangs to work in factories. Joan Crawford ripped out her roses to plant a Victory Garden (“Christina! Bring me the axe!”). And families were asked to donate their dogs to become soldier animals.

You didn’t know that, did you?

It’s true. In addition to dogs found on the combat field (like WWII hero Smoky), Spike and Fido were recruited into the army to serve in the Pacific as part of the Dogs for Defense initiative. What’s most astonishing is not the fact that this happened (and still happens; dogs continue to go to war), but that when World War II ended, the dogs were shipped back to their owners. That’s right. Dogs that had been to war and back were returned to their backyards, where presumably they terrorized Asian Americans. (World War II was the last war in which dogs were returned to their owners.) All of this is in Susan Orlean’s remarkable biography of Rin Tin Tin, which comes highly recommended.

Even Hanna and Barbera were riveted by this… tail. (Get it?)

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