Stories of dogs loyally defending their masters always tug at my heartstrings, and this article from Cracked.com is no different. I can’t say if these are the five best war dogs, but they were definitely five great war dogs.
Rags the Terrier began his illustrious career in WWI-era Paris running written messages between command and the front line. Pretty soon, Rags learned a fun new game from all the humans called “drop to the ground when bombs fall from the sky.” After learning the basics of the game from his human pack, he perfected it by using his doggy ears to hear the shells before they landed. Pretty soon, everyone realized that if Rags dropped to the ground that meant the bombs were coming and you’d better take cover. This “Rags-the-Dog Early Warning System” saved countless lives. After the war, Rags lived out the rest of his life as a happy family dog. When he died at the age of 20, he was buried with full military honors.
Judy the Pointer was aboard the HMS Grasshopper in 1937 when the ship went down under enemy torpedo fire. She promptly swam ashore with the rest of the crew and proceeded to find water for everyone before they died of thirst. When the crew (and Judy) were taken prisoner and sent to a POW camp, Judy actively attacked any guard attempting to beat her crew-members. Eventually, Judy and the crew escaped and boarded another allied ship bound for England. When that ship also sank under torpedo fire, Judy was pretty much “I got this shit” and proceeded to save the crew by bringing them flotsam to construct makeshift rafts. She spent the rest of the war getting that crew to the safety of Allied territory through the jungle, including killing snakes and even fighting alligators. When the war was over, she was awarded the Dickens Medal.
Smoky was found by American soldiers in an abandoned foxhole in the New Guinea jungle. Despite weighing only 4 pounds, she went on to survive 150 air raids, 12 combat missions, and was awarded 8 battle stars. Her most famous act of heroism was crawling a telegraph wire 200 feet through an 8-inch diameter sewer pipe and allowing the construction of a crucial Allied airfield. This act saved the 250-man crew 3 days of arduous digging while being fired on by enemy planes.
Sallie the Bull Terrier was adopted by the captain of a Union regiment in the Civil War. During parades, she would march in formation. During battles, she fought alongside her unit on the front-lines (in what must have been a terrifying display for the enemy soldiers). During a particularly bad battle, the Union front-line was temporarily pushed back. When they finally recovered their original front-line three days later, the found Sallie standing vigil over a group of wounded Union soldiers and guarding the bodies of her dead comrades. She had been doing that without sleep for the entire three days.
Gander started out his life pulling sleds for local children in his home town. But during WWII he was drafted and sent overseas to Hong Kong. When the Japanese attacked his camp during a cold night in December of 1941, Gander singlehandedly (singlepawedly?) fought off the first wave while his groggy human comrades shuffled around aimlessly looking for their guns. Later in the fight, Japanese soldiers threw a grenade into one of the Allied fortifications. Gander looked around at his friends, grabbed the grenade, and ran it kamikaze-style right back to the Japense soldiers who had thrown it. While he died in the ensuing explosion, he saved the lives of dozens of Allied soldiers. He received a posthumous Dickens Medal and is the only non-human immortalized on the Hong Kong Memorial wall in Ottawa.