For next week’s primary source presentation, I chose “The Diary of Two Red Cross Dogs,” a fanciful story found within the pages of an issue of The Red Cross Magazine from 1918. I chose this particular primary source due to its representation of the other evidence that will ultimately support my argument in my final research project. Indeed, a large part of my project involves examining the ways by which dogs were presented to the civilian public in order to boost morale on the home front during World War I. This article, published most likely in several allied nations during the Great War, tells the story of two small dogs named Rags and Tags. Though not the traditional war dogs that were used during the war, these dogs instead were tasked with collecting money for the Red Cross with the little boxes attached to their collars. As mentioned above, this is an entirely fanciful depiction of these dogs, jotting down their thoughts as they fulfill their wartime duties. And yet, its significance cannot be overlooked.
One depiction of dogs during World War I included those dogs that became mythical creatures. That is, those dogs whose stories were so exaggerated and at times unbelievable that it is difficult to separate fact from fiction. Nevertheless, these kinds of stories were critical to civilian morale. These heroic dogs made the horrors of wartime more palatable and made the muddling through of everyday life a bit easier. It also allowed for civilians to learn the successes of their own dogs they sent to the front, to perhaps understand a bit better that every little contribution can help, and to give a more humane element to the nightmare of new technologies and new, cruel wartime innovations.
How are dogs depicted in this particular primary source? In “The Diary of Two Red Cross Dogs,” Rags and Tags are presented as two spirited canines devoted to doing their duty. The diary is composed of what is supposed to be their thoughts as they become official Red Cross dogs and as they collect money alongside their owners. Certainly, this is not to be taken entirely seriously as we as humans can have no idea what these dogs are feeling or thinking. Nevertheless, this widely available article most likely put a few smiles on some otherwise dreary faces and brightened up an otherwise dismal time. Thus, though it is difficult to measure precise reactions to articles such as “The Diary of Two Red Cross Dogs,” it can be surmised that dogs like Rags and Tags aided in continued perseverance on the home front.