Imagine a rugged mountain terrain with sparse vegetation and an occasional path through dark gray and tan rocky dirt. A small encampment and several military-related vehicles sit near the left side of the mountain and a generator hums in the distance.

Over the far hill, two Black Hawk helicopters fly near the ground, keeping what appears to be a low profile. As they pass overhead, stretchers can be seen inside.

“C’mon Jake, they need us over there,” says a voice from above. A soldier smiles down and rubs the head of his companion — a military working dog.

As you make your Memorial Day plans, I ask that you remember that picture and pause to remember the military working dogs who have paid the ultimate price along with their handlers to give us the freedoms we have today.

Dogs have been used in war since ancient Egypt, and in increasing numbers in our military since Vietnam. Today’s military has approximately 2,700 dogs on active duty. The human lives they’ve saved can’t be counted, and they ask for so little in return. Taking a moment to remember their sacrifices seems so small in the grand scheme of things.

If you want to do more, there are organizations that help surviving military working dogs find new homes. Sharing their information is one important way you can help.

Now that your Memorial Day plans are underway and summer is right around the corner, Texas summer heat comes to mind. A question I heard a lot this past week was, “How hot is too hot to leave a dog in a car with the windows cracked?” My answer is 70 degrees. I know that 70 degrees feels comfortable outside, but park your car during the day in a parking lot somewhere. Come back a couple of hours later and see how warm it is. A cracked window will not supply enough air to keep the inside of your car cool enough for a dog to regulate his body temperature. It takes less than 30 minutes for the inside of your car to heat up.

That being said, there are rescue people out there who will break a window to save a dog from overheating. So be on the safe side, leave your dogs at home or have someone stay in an air-conditioned car with them while you run errands.

Kathryn Leisinger is the “dean of wags” of School of Wags, a nonprofit dog training and rescue organization. Contact her at

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