For this week’s source update, I thought I would discuss two books that I came across recently. I stumbled upon these secondary sources while searching through the bibliographic information of some of my other monographs such as War Dogs: Tales of Canine Heroism, History, and Love and Animals in the Military: From Hannibal’s Elephants to the Dolphins of the U.S. Navy. More specifically, I sought these sources out due to their inclusion of information concerning the fate of war dogs once World War I had ended. Indeed, this has been a tricky bit of information to pin down. It seems that the lack of evidence (i.e. the silence) relaying the fate of soldier dogs speaks volumes. Thus, I have had a difficult time unearthing such information. Nevertheless, these two books are proving to be helpful in that particular area, at least to some extent.
The first book is entitled War Dogs: A History of Loyalty and Heroism and it is by Michael G. Lemish. I received this book through the Interlibrary Loan service of our main library. Published in 1996, this monograph covers the origins of military dogs, dogs in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and lessons learned after each of these conflicts. Ultimately, it is chock full of useful information. However, with the number of secondary sources I am already using for my research project, I will be interested to see how much of this book’s material I actually end up using. In terms of what I was searching for in particular, this book supplies the following: “The French military, then posessing fifteen thousand dogs in its employ, destroyed the animals as its great war machine demobilized. The vast quantities of dogs used by the British, Germans, Italians, and Russians faced the same fate” (29). It goes on to argue what I had previously ascertained from the lack of material concerning this subject: “The actual number will never be known since these events were never accurately recorded. Compassion within the military–then and now–is often a precious commodity” (29). Interesting thoughts, indeed.
The other secondary source I uncovered this past week is Soldier Dogs by Maria Goodavage, published in 2012. This is yet another book that covers the history of war dogs and their experiences in a variety of wars. Similarly to Rebecca Frankel’s War Dogs: Tales of Canine Heroism, History, and Love, it also studies more current conflicts such as Afghanistan and Iraq. I have not had the opportunity to properly mine this book for potential material but I plan to do so in the next few days. As the deadline for the rough draft of my research project is fast approaching (March 1st!) I may have to wait and see what sections of my paper will need more honing and crafting before I delve extensively into more research. Regardless, I believe this book could potentially be useful and I will add it to my now large (and ever-growing) stack of primary and secondary sources.