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Getting the job done

A Canadian soldier working with his dog in Afghanistan in 2008.
Photo: Department of National Defence IS2008-9178

Gandy the dog

Woof! I cannot think of any job harder than being a person serving in the middle of a war. But did you know that lots of brave animals have also played important roles right beside these courageous people over the years? Animals have helped in many ways, especially in years past when motorized vehicles were still not very common. If soldiers needed to carry supplies or pull their heavy artillery guns, horses were key to getting the job done. Some soldiers—part of special units called cavalry—even rode horses on the battlefield. Elephants helped soldiers build roads and carry supplies in the jungles of Southeast Asia. Some other animals, like furry bears and even goats, became mascots for army regiments.

Other smaller creatures also did their part in surprising ways. Messenger pigeons, with their amazing sense of direction, carried important notes from soldiers on the front lines. Dogs also delivered messages, helped find wounded people, served as watch dogs and simply kept people company. Cats helped keep rats from growing too numerous on warships.

Even today, animals can still be found serving next to Canadian Armed Forces members. Specially trained dogs, for instance, help locate buried mines and other explosives with their super sense of smell. My tail is wagging so much just thinking of how animals have been such great helpers for so long.

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