Best Defense

Rebecca’s War Dog of the Week: The Foxhole Guardians of WWII

Digging in with dogs during the first conflict with an official U.S. canine force.


By Rebecca Frankel

Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent

The War Dog book tour continues, so here’s a postcard from Iowa Jim in February, 1945, which seems a fitting image this week as we celebrated the 73rd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

As we’ve noted at many previous turns here in WDotW, World War II was the very first war in which the United States employed an official canine force. In this Marine Corps archive photo, Pfc. Rez P. Hester of the Seventh War Dog Platoon takes a nap while his dog Butch stands guard. I’ve read accounts that detailed reports from the front which relayed the dogs’ tremendous success in saving lives and how the men “vied nightly to dig foxholes for the handlers in order to get the handlers and their dogs to bunk down with them.

In other divine dog news, Pope Francis has declared that indeed, all dogs do go to heaven. He made this statement while comforting a young boy whose dog had just died. “Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures,” the Pope reportedly told him.

And of course it reminds me of that Will Rogers quote that was posted on fallen handler MA2 Sean Brazas’s Facebook page: “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”

via USMC Archives

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at

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