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Soldier George Button with His Dog, World War I, c. 1917

Soldier George Button with his dog
New York State Archives, NYSA_A0412-78_B04_F03_Button
Document Description
World War I soldier George Button with his dog. Private George Button served with Company 3 153 Depot Brigade until April 22, 1918; he was headquarted with the 309th infantry until June 5, 1918; H company, 147th Infantry, 37th Division from June 1818 until he was discharged in April 1919. He served from April 4, 1918 until April 14, 1919. Private Button was originally from Westfield, NY.
Who do you see in this picture? (Give a detailed description)
Describe the setting.
Why might a soldier have a dog with him?
Use evidence from the picture to describe the relationship between the soldier and the dog.
Historical Challenges
The official use of dogs in the U.S. military began in WWII, although they were used before then unofficially. Dogs have fought in many wars since then. Research some famous military dogs and their accomplishments.
Interdisciplinary Connections
English Language Arts: Write a journal entry from a dog's perspective as he is assisting in battle.
Math: One dog that served in WWI traveled 4,000 meters over difficult terrain to carry a message from the front to one brigade’s headquarters. He made the trip in 60 minutes. How fast was he traveling?
Science: Breed is important when choosing dogs for military use. German shepherds are the standard dog chosen. Why do you think German shepherds make good military dogs?
Kopelman, Jay and Melinda Roth. From Baghdad with Love: A Marine, the War, and a Dog Named Lava. Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press, 2008. ISBN: 1599211823
Ruffin, Frances E. Military Dogs. New York, NY: Bearport Publishing, 2006. ISBN: 1597162736
Lemish, Michael. War Dogs: A History of Loyalty and Heroism. Dulles, VA: Potomac Books, 1999. ISBN: 1574882163

Historical Context
Dogs had an important role to play in World War I.  One of the primary reasons they were used was to carry messages between the front and military headquarters.  Trained dogs were faster than human runners and presented less of a target to the enemy.  Furthermore, dogs could travel over any terrain because they were not weighed down with heavy uniforms and equipment.  Dogs also, in many cases, provided psychological comfort for troops who were otherwise demoralized by the horrors of trench warfare.  

Rin Tin Tin was one of the most famous war dogs of World War I.  He was found by U.S. troops in an abandoned German war dog station in Lorraine, France.  He was brought back to the U.S. and was the star of over 40 films.

Essential Question
How do animals contribute to historical events?
Check for Understanding
Describe the role played by this animal in World War I.