Thanks, “This American Life”: Break your heart with stories of WWII soldier dogs  »

This American Life
's most recent show is called “Animal Sacrifice,” and its first act features Susan Orlean reporting on World War II soldier dogs, expanded from her book Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend.┬áThe U.S. military had a program where they recruited citizens’ pet dogs to serve. Like, one day your dog is performing Houdini-style escapes from every confinement you try to impose on her; the next, she’s flushing enemy soldiers out of caves in the Solomon Islands.

Here’s a training video, starring the cutest little terrier you ever saw.

[Can’t see the video? Watch it on]

In light of the army’s latest findings on canine PTSD, this story is especially heartbreaking. Many of the dogs who weren’t killed in action had such bad PTSD they couldn’t be returned to their civilian families after the war, and so were euthanized.┬áThe use of dogs in service continues today, but at least now there are options beyond killing a dog we forced to undergo personality-altering trauma. Still, if we’re going to have robots in war, can we make some to replace the canines? It’s appalling, the sacrifices we ask of dogs, things we have no right to demand of them.

[photo from the national archives via TAL]

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