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Humans helping animals

A Canadian soldier giving his dog a bath during the First World War.
Photo: Library and Archives Canada PA-002491


My ancestor Simon was one brave cat. He was a mascot on a warship that came under attack and was wounded along with some of the sailors. They helped him get better and in return, he gave them lots of affection. Purrrrrrr! We have heard some great stories of animals helping men and women in war, but Canadians also took care of their animal friends in many ways.

These friendly beasts needed to be fed, bathed and, sadly, sometimes bandaged as well. During the First World War, some Canadians fought on horseback as part of what was known as the cavalry. As you can imagine, horses were sometimes hurt on the battlefield. There was even a special group of soldiers called the Royal Canadian Army Veterinary Corps, dedicated to treating sick and wounded animals. This important job no doubt reminded the men of the animals they had cared for back home.

In fact, I recently saw photos of carvings etched by soldiers in the soft chalk walls of tunnels near Vimy Ridge. Some men carved their names and others their regiment’s emblem. One soldier, a farmer from Ontario, even left an image of a pig on the wall! The pig with its curly tail is still there today. What a great example of the close bond that people and animals share.

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