The Australian War Memorial has unveiled a memorial dedicated to military working dogs.
The memorial, titled Circling Into Sleep, has been created by military working dogs and their handlers. It was unveiled on Tuesday morning in the Australian War Memorial's Sculpture Garden and honours the many generations of dogs that have served, given their loyalty and in many cases their lives.
Acting director of the Australian War Memorial Major General (Ret'd) Brian Dawson said that the memorial services to remind visitors of the contribution of military working dogs and the special relationship between dogs and their handlers.
“The Australian Defence Force has a long tradition of working with dogs, from the First World War through to operations in places such as Afghanistan, East Timor and Somalia,” Dawson said.
“In 2017, the ADF commissioned the Canine Operations Service Medal, becoming the first military in the world to specifically recognise and honour the contributions of military working dogs.”
The ashes of Aussie, Military Working Dog 426, were interred within the memorial on 4 December 2019. During his service, Aussie served in Australian domestic and international operations including the Solomon Islands in 2004 and four deployments to Afghanistan with the Explosive Detection Dog Team. Aussie died after retirement in 2017 aged 16.
“Dogs including Aussie, whose ashes are interred here, have detected explosives, searched for and attacked the enemy, provided base security, and laid their lives on the line to save others. Unveiled on the National Day for War Animals in Australia, this memorial is a fitting tribute to their loyalty, bravery and sacrifice,” Dawson said.
Artist Steven Holland created Circling into sleep with help from Explosives Detection Dog Billie and her handler. Billie was trained to walk in a tight spiral on a bed of soft clay to create the paw print track.
“This is the dogs’ memorial. It is low to the ground and humble,” Holland said.
“The tear stone and the paw prints symbolise the remembrance of military dogs. Through their playfulness and curiosity, their intelligence and insight, their bravery and their faithfulness, they made a profound impact.”
The war in Afghanistan has highlighted the role of Explosive Detection Dogs (EDD) in the Australian Defence Force. Trained at Holsworthy Barracks in Sydney, EDDs are specially trained to use their heightened sense of smell to detect the many different chemical compounds that make up improvised explosive devices by Taliban insurgents throughout Uruzgan province.