(KFOR NEWS August 13, 2019) Would you give up your pet to help your country? During World War II, thousands of Americans sent their pets to Fort Robinson, Nebraska to become soldiers. Now,Major: A Soldier Dog tells a little-known story of patriotism and sacrifice. This children’s book is told from a dog’s perspective and is filled with colorful illustrations based on actual places and events. More than 17,000 dogs trained at Fort Robinson in northwest Nebraska. The story fascinated author Trevor Jones, Director and CEO of History Nebraska.
On KFOR’s Lincoln Live, Jones says, “The war dog program at Fort Robinson is a captivating part of Nebraska history, and we wanted to share it with children.“ “Major was a real dog donated to the military by a little boy named Sid, and we wanted to share this story of how dogs trained in Nebraska helped to win World War II.”
The Fort Robinson War Dog Training Center was established in September 1942. Families across the country donated their dogs, which were taught to be guards, scouts, messengers, and sled dogs. Major: A Soldier Dog follows Major through his heartbreaking separation from his family, his training at Fort Robinson, his war service in Italy, his return home, and a tearful reunion with his family.
Jones learned about Major while researching Fort Robinson’s war dog records. The dog had been donated by the Moore family of Wahpeton, North Dakota. Jones contacted Sid Moore, who was only five years old when he climbed into the shipping crate to lure Major inside. Moore’s memories became part of the story.
Because the story is told from Major’s perspective, the words and pictures reflect the way dogs perceive the world. Dogs rely first on smell, second on hearing, and last on sight. Illustrator Ming Hai used colors to show what Major would have smelled and heard to help children understand his world.
“Many of the illustrations are based on photos from our collections at History Nebraska,” said Jones. “We wanted to make sure that the story was not only captivating but as historically accurate as possible.”
Major: A Soldier Dog is available at History Nebraska sites, including the Fort Robinson History Center, the Nebraska History Museum, and Chimney Rock, as well as bookstores nationwide. Books are also available at history.nebraska.gov/publications/books.
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