Did you know that thousands of dogs have helped U.S. soldiers? THE STORY A good dog can be a super soldier. That’s because dogs are strong, smart, and loyal. Thousands of dogs have been trained to do jobs in the U.S. military. In recent years, more than 2,500 dogs have been sent to help soldiers fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some military dogs help guard and watch for threats. Others sniff out bombs. Bomb-sniffing dogs have saved the lives of many soldiers. It’s no surprise that military dogs form close bonds with their handlers—the soldiers they work with. THE HISTORY Dogs have been used in wars for thousands of years. In ancient times, they went into battle to attack the enemy. During World War II, many Americans volunteered their dogs to support the military. More than 10,000 pet dogs were trained and sent overseas to work with American soldiers. Some of those dogs carried messages. Others helped wounded soldiers. THE SCIENCE A dog’s nose is 10,000 times more sensitive to smells than your nose is. A dog can smell a cookie crumb at the bottom of a messy locker. Dogs can find just about anything by following its scent. Bombs, for example, leave a “scent trail.” Just like you’d follow footprints in the snow, a dog can follow this scent trail to the bomb itself. (A bomb-sniffing dog can find explosives buried 5 feet underground!) Once a dog finds a bomb, it stares or sits next to the spot where the bomb is hidden. Then the bomb is removed.
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