Every year on the 25th April, Australia stands together to commemorate the brave servicemen and women who fought for our country’s freedom on the beaches of Gallipoli in 1915. Anzac Day is a day of celebration, and a day we should all be proud to participate in.
In saying that, there is a group of soldiers we don’t commemorate quite as often as we should. A group of four-legged heroes who also risked their lives on the battlefield. A group of tailwaggers who stood strong, and bravely followed commands from their handlers.
We’re referring to the extremely intelligent and obedient Military Working Dogs.
Military Working Dogs (also known as MWDs) are specifically trained by experienced dog trainers to use their superior sense of smell and hearing to detect potential threats out in the field. The dogs are chosen according to their breed, age, fitness and various other factors such as behavioural traits and tendencies. After completion of their training, they are paired with a military personnel officer and sent out on special forces missions with them. The dogs end up forming extremely strong bonds with their handlers, and vice versa.
One story we feel is especially touching, and wanted to share in the lead up to Anzac Day, is the story of Sarbi.
Sarbi was an Australian Military Dog who went missing in action in Afghanistan in September 2008. Insurgents had attacked the convoy she was with in Oruzgan province, leaving nine soldiers wounded and Sarbi nowhere to be found. She was missing for 13 months before an American soldier found her and handed back to the Australian forces. Her handler, David Simpson, was overjoyed when the news hit home that she had been found.
Sarbi and her handler, David Simpson. Photo by Alex Ellinghausen
In 2011, Sarbi was awarded the War Dog Operational Medal and the RSPCA’s Purple Cross – the highest award for animal bravery.
Sarbi wearing her purple cross award. Photo by Jeffrey Chan
She also had a $1 million dog park built in her honour, in a suburb just north of Brisbane.
Sarbi next to a statue of herself in her dog park. Photo by Michelle Smith
Sarbi passed away peacefully in 2015, after spending five years in retirement with Officer Simpson and his family.
Aussie War Dogs highlights many other dynamic duos like Sarbi and Simpson, celebrating the bravery of both human and hound soldiers. We think these guys bring a whole new meaning to the phrase “man’s best friend”.
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