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  • Kelley Post

The Animals In War Dedication

In Confederation Park in Ottawa on November 3, 2012, a very unique and memorable event took place.

Photo credit: Reddit

Canada paid tribute to the contributions that animals have made to the military and war efforts.

On that date, the Mayor of Ottawa issued a proclamation that November 3, 2012, would be War Animals Day and the dedication was unveiled.

The large crowd that attended the ceremony included many dignitaries that were led to their seats by RCMP Corporal Luc Patenaude and his Police Dog Cujo. Two RCMP Mounted riders and their horses stood at attention just behind the dedication.

The memorial consists of three bronze plaques and a sculpture of a medical dog with a first aid kit, located next to the South African War Memorial and near the Aboriginal Veterans Monument. The Dedication to Animals at War includes a Dedication to Mules, A Dedication to Horses and a Dedication to Dogs. The Plaques and Sculptures were created by Ottawa based artist David Clendening.

The Animals in War Dedication Founder was Lloyd Zwick. The inspiration for the Animals in War dedication came while Lloyd was at a Remembrance Day Service at a high school in Winnipeg in 2009. There was a large picture on the school wall of a battlefield where mules and horses and dogs struggled through mud and muck where vehicles would never have been able to navigate to pull the big guns, equipment, and other artillery to the front lines of battle. In the eyes of these animals could be seen the horrific fear and trauma of being in the battle.

Zwick spoke of his year in Korea where they had canine units and dog handlers who would take the dogs out on patrol. The dogs, with a tremendous ability to smell, could detect if an enemy was present and the dog’s hair would bristle on the back of its neck.

Laureen Harper, honorary patron of the Animals in War Dedication Project, stated, “We don’t realize how important animals are in War, how much work they do, dangerous work, too dangerous for our Men and Women, so the animals did it and they didn’t have a choice.”

It was said by Marsh Hayde, “If it had not been for the Animals, we may not have been victorious in battle”

In the Military, the “Dicken Medal” is the highest medal that can be bestowed on an animal. It was first awarded in 1943 by the “Peoples Dispensary for Sick Animals and named after the organizations founder Maria Dicken.

Four of the Dicken Medals were given to the Canadian Military for the following:

Warrior. A thoroughbred horse

In 2014, the Dicken Medal was awarded posthumously to this First World War horse known as the “Horse that the Germans couldn’t kill.” Warrior led the charge for the Canadian Cavalry Brigade in several battles during WW1 including The Battle of Moreuil Wood which was influential in the ending of the war. After the War, this hero was shipped back to his homeland in the UK and died of old age at 32 on the Isle of Wight. Warrior was the first to receive the Dicken Medal and was specifically recognized for the strength and resilience that all animals possess for their war efforts.

Sam, A German Shepard

In 1998, Sam, a German Shepard, originally from the British Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC), was put on assignment with the Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR) to help create stability and peace in Yugoslavia.

Sergeant Lain Carnegie, Sam’s handler, reported two separate acts of bravery from Sam. The first act was when Sam charged at a gunman who opened fire allowing Sergeant Carnegie to bring the man into custody.

The next incident occurred when Sam and Sergeant Carnegie protected a group of civilians from a group of rioters and kept them safe until help arrived.

Sam passed away from natural causes at the age of 10. In 2002 Sergeant Carnegie accepted the Dicken Medal on behalf of Sam

Sergeant Gander

A Newfoundland dog named Sergeant Gander was raised on the Gander air base by the Hayden Family. He was gifted to the Royal Rifles of Canada and served as their mascot. In 1941, Sergeant Gander accompanied the troops to Hong Kong and on two separate occasions he helped to prevent the enemy’s advances and protected the injured men.

Sergeant Gander’s third act of bravery was when he grabbed a tossed grenade and ran away with it. Unfortunately, it detonated, and he was killed but he saved seven soldiers. The posthumous Dicken Medal was awarded to Sergeant Gander on October 27, 2000.

Beachcomber. A pigeon

In 1942, the message about the Canadians landing at Dieppe needed to get across the English Channel to the Higher Commands in England. That mission was carried out by a carrier pigeon who flew in very dangerous conditions. He was awarded the Dicken Medal in 1944.

These animals, along with 50,000 horses that Canada provided for the mounted troops, and many more added to Canada’s contribution to the War efforts and to our Freedom.

If you have an idea for an animal-based story for the Voxair, please contact Kelley Post at

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