You can find just about everything you ever wanted to know about dogs in the military in Lisa Rogak’s The Dogs of War: The Courage, Love, and Loyalty of Military Working Dogs (Thomas Dunne Books, 240 pp., $14.99, paper). “My goal, ” Rogak says, “is to celebrate the contributions and achievements of the military working dog not only in the United States but also around the world.”
Rogak includes a short section on dogs who served in the Vietnam War. “When the military first entered Vietnam, ” Rogak writes, “commanders balked at the idea of sending dogs to the field due to the oppressive heat and humidity. But after running an initial trial in the country with just forty dogs and their handlers in the summer of 1965, the military decided to put the working dog project on the fast track because they performed so well.”
Rogak says that more than 4, 000 dogs served the U.S. military in the Vietnam War, working with some 10, 000 human handlers. Of that group 263 dog handlers and 500 dogs were killed in action.