Dogs are great protectors, they’re fun playmates, they’re walking garbage disposals, they’re comforting friends, they’re home alarms, they’re anti-tank weaponry…
That last one only applies to Russian dogs, though.
During World War II, the Soviet army began a new military weapon against German tanks: trained dogs. The dogs would carry bombs over to the tanks, drop them, and run back to their Soviet trainers. The bombs would be detonated remotely, and the dog would be rewarded and sent off toward the next tank.
In theory, at least. What really happened was that the Russians, using short time periods and inexperienced trainers, were completely unable to teach the dogs to drop the heavy vests and return. Rather than give up on the idea, the Russians used an alternative plan: blow up the bomb (and the dog carrying it) when the dog got close enough to the enemy tank.
The effort eventually proved successful (although not for the dogs), turning the tide of some battles late in the war. Initially, however, the results were far less positive.
Out of the first thirty “suicide dogs” sent to the Russian front lines, only four of them successfully detonated closely enough to a tank to disable it. The others were shot as they approached, or detonated too far away from the tank as they ran beside it.
Those four tanks might have been deemed a success worth losing thirty dogs, though, had it not been for the other factor. Of the thirty, six of those dogs returned to the trenches, exploding among the Russian trainers and the troops with whom they were stationed.
Question of the night: what’s your favorite dog video or meme?