Best Defense

Rebecca’s War Dog of the Week: ‘Guardians of the Night,’ an ode to MWDs

I have heard it read in ceremonies and seen it quoted at the beginning of books. It is branded on t-shirts and emblems, posted on K-9 police and other working dog websites. It is referenced again and again, over and over, familiar to most in the military working dog world.

OFFICIAL U.S. MARINE CORPS PHOTO 88121
OFFICIAL U.S. MARINE CORPS PHOTO 88121

 

By Rebecca Frankel
Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent

I have heard it read in ceremonies and seen it quoted at the beginning of books. It is branded on t-shirts and emblems, posted on K-9 police and other working dog websites. It is referenced again and again, over and over, familiar to most in the military working dog world.

No one I’ve talked to knows where it came from, and no one I know in the community has ever credited a source. But it is always among the first lines posted when an MWD dies or falls while serving in combat. And it is read with reverence when those who served with an MWD come together to pay their respects to dogs, like Kurt, a Marine Corps dog pictured in the photo above, who was wounded in Guam during World War II.

We’ve posted other canine-inspired poetry here, though never this selection. And it feels a fitting offering for Memorial Day.

Guardians of the Night
Author Unknown

Trust in me my friend for I am your comrade.
I will protect you with my last breath.
When all others have left you
And the loneliness of the night closes in,
I will be at your side.

Together we will conquer all obstacles
And search out those who might wish harm to others.
All I ask of you is compassion,
The caring touch of your hands.
It is for you that I will selflessly give my life
And spend my nights unrested.

Although our days together
May be marked by the passing of the seasons.
Know that each day at your side is my reward.
My days are measured by
The coming and going of your footsteps.
I anticipate them at the opening of the door.
You are the voice of caring when I am ill.
The voice of authority over me when I’ve done wrong.
Do not chastise me unduly
For I am your right arm,
The sword at your side.

I attempt to do only what you bid of me.
I seek only to please you and remain in your favor.
Together you and I shall experience
A bond only others like you will understand.
When outsiders see us together
Their envy will be measured by their disdain.
I will quietly listen to you
And pass no judgement.
Nor will your spoken words be repeated.
I will remain ever silent,
Ever vigilant, ever loyal.

And when our time together is done
And you move on in the world,
Remember me with kind thoughts and tales.
For a time we were unbeatable,
Nothing passed among us undetected.
If we should ever meet again on another field
I will gladly take up your fight.
I am a Police Working Dog and together
We are GUARDIANS of the NIGHT.

Rebecca Frankel is deputy editor at Foreign Policy and author of War Dogs: Tales of Canine Heroism, History, and Love.

Marine Corps Archive

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 ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1
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