Second World War: K-9 Corps and Dogs for Defense

Author Photo
By Capper's Staff | Jun 18, 2012

In 1943, Ernie Archer kept three portraits on the wall in his room. One was of his sister in a WAVE uniform, one was of his brother in a Coast Guard uniform and the third was of his dog, Scott.

Ten-year-old Ernie couldn’t join the service. “And I didn’t have any aluminum pots and pans to donate for the war effort,” he recalls, “so I gave Scott to Dogs for Defense.”

Scott was 18 months old then. He’d belonged to Ernie since he was a fluffy gold-and-white pup. Small for a collie, slight of build, Scott was lively and affectionate. He loved to play games with Ernie, especially the game of chase-around-and-under-the-dining-room-table. It wasn’t easy for Ernie to part with Scott, but Dogs for Defense needed spunky, intelligent dogs.

Dogs for Defense contributed at least 20,000 dogs to the K-9 Corps. Dogs accepted for service had to be at least one year old, neither docile nor high-strung, and – above all – obedient and intelligent. The relationship between dog handler and dog was one of mutual trust and respect. When a handler was killed, his dog was destroyed because no one else could control his particular dog.

Dogs served in the Arctic, Europe and the South Pacific. The K-9s soon proved their worth, cave-scouting and investigating bamboo huts where the enemy might be hiding. They were especially useful on night duty after they learned to warn their handlers without barking. Dogs saved countless human lives, but many lost their own.

At the War’s end, dogs were returned to the United States. In 1946, a notice came asking if the Archers wanted Scott back. They did. His picture still hangs in the Archer home beside his honorable discharge certificate, symbol of all the gallant dogs of the K -9 Corps.

Originally printed in Capper’s.
By Jean Ciavonne
Colorado Springs, Colorado

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.

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