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Dawgs Project dedicates memorial to dog handlers

By Cpl. Keenan Zelazoski | | August 14, 2014

The Dawgs Project, a company dedicated to military working dog handlers of all services, unveiled a memorial to commemorate K-9 handling service members at the Pacific Views Event Center’s Memorial Garden at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Aug. 9.

A 5,000-pound statue was placed in the garden with the names of fallen dog handlers from each generation dating back to WWI.
Canines have been used to support warfare in various ways since ancient times.  Romans used heavy-armored Mastiffs to attack the legs of their enemies as a strategy to force them to lower their shields during battle. The U.S. military also used dogs to carry first-aid kits during World War I.

“It is difficult for people to understand the bond we share with the dogs,” said Jonathan Hemp, co-founder of The Dawgs Project and prior Air Force sentry dog handler during Vietnam.  “[My dog] kept me alive every night, and I took care of him to the best of my ability.”

The present generation has taken dog handling to a new level, as the dogs today are able to perform duties such as tracking and sniffing out narcotics and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), one of the most lethal threats U.S. troops face in Afghanistan today, according to Hemp.

Members of the organization plan to begin the project each year with a ceremony where members of the organization and service members from the dog handling community will come together and honor fallen dog handlers at the memorial.