From “Siberian Rat” to Noncommissioned Officer

When Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941, America’s inventory of military working dogs consisted of only 90 Siberian Huskies and Malamutes. That two Nordic breeds were the entire “stable” was not a surprise, and certainly not the inclusion of the fastest of the purebred Arctic sled-pulling breeds, the Siberian Husky. The U.S. Army recruited these dogs during World War II to serve in the Arctic Search and Rescue Unit to go where motorized equipment couldn’t go. With the help of Canadians, they also trained the Sibes to jump from planes and bring supplies to downed airmen who’d fallen in isolated locations. These days, tradition holds that every military working dog is a noncommissioned officer, and always one rank higher than its handler. This is a wonderful reversal of sentiment from when Russian fur trader William Goosak entered a team of Siberians in the 1909 All Alaska Sweepstakes race and the people of Nome called his smaller, lighter dogs, “Siberian Rats.”  We prefer the sound of, “Sir. Yes, Sir.”

Photo from the terrific site, Warfarehistorynetwork where you can read more about how the dogs were prepared.

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