A chance conversation with clients Duncan and Anne Reynolds, (photo attached) whose dog was being having a Galen Myotherapy treatment by Julia, revealed the amazing story behind the fun and games of dog competitions and sports like working trials and agility activities. Anne Reynolds said, ‘Because, as you run with your dog, encouraging them over jumps and through tunnels, you are doing exactly what dogs were taught to do in the war zone. Exactly the same’.
Your dog may have to jump that 6 foot scale or wall to get a clear round in a working trial. Their wartime equivalent had to jump high and swiftly over that wall and into the trenches, probably under gunfire, risking at best shredded paws from the barbed wire at the top of the wall, at worst taking a fatal shot.
When your dog dashes through that clean multi-coloured PVC tunnel, they are echoing all the dogs who ran, crashed and pushed their way through the trench tunnels, no doubt covered in mud and all sorts of horrific debris….. And the long jump that for working trials needs to be 9 foot – the width of a trench.
Who knows what dogs had to leap across in the lines as they traversed the complex, endless and disgusting trench system. All in the name of serving us.
This juxtaposition of training dogs for fun and competition in the same way, as just a few decades ago, we were training them to save lives along with maintaining their own. This was something that Julia could not reconcile in her mind. It was such a momentous moment by a chance comment, the type of moment that you remember exactly where you were when it happened. This was the time that Julia decided it was imperative to draw attention to these facts, to make it known that pet dogs, like ours, were part of the war effort. These dogs were requested, then taken for training and often never returned home. Julia said ‘ I remember talking to friends who still remembers the torture of the War Ministry coming to their stables and measuring their horses, then taking the ones that were the correct height to serve in the war. But to also give up your beloved dog, is equally just too awful to imagine and something that is so relatable to so many people.
During the time of starting the charity, there was a lot about the role that horses played within the Great War, and the role they played was integral and horrific. Dogs, however, have been by our sides forever; they are the only species that have fought alongside us from the earliest of records to the present day.
In reality these pet dogs saved thousands of soldier’s lives, and this was the message that was clearly emblazoned over the coat that Molly and then Maggie proudly wore to Ypres when they walked in the Poppy Parade.
The charity is keen to encourage a show of respect rather than a celebration of this loyal service. Every year, Julia takes part in the Remembrance Parade in Ypres, Belgium, with her Labrador Molly and latterly Maggie who wears a coat saying, “Pet dogs like me saved thousands of soldiers’ lives”