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Always Faithful by Captain William W. Putney
Reviewed by Carol Conley
Retired Captain William Putney, of the United States Marine Corps, recounts his story of the 3rd Marine War Dog Platoon used in World War II in his memoir Always Faithful. In June 1943, Putney enlisted in the Marine Corps. Fresh out of college with a degree in veterinary medicine, he was hoping to serve his country with honor and courage. It came as a disappointment when his orders sent him to be a line officer in the War Dog Platoon. However, he was soon engrossed in the training of the dogs and handlers for combat in the Pacific. Putney?s writing flows easily carrying the reader along on his journey as he describes the almost seven months of training, the trip to Guadalcanal, and the tension filled, dangerous liberation of the island of Guam. After the war was over he was horrified to learn that the war dogs were being euthanized. No attempt was being made to retrain them for safe return to the civilian owners who donated them. He spearheaded the effort to establish a detraining program of the courageous dogs serving our country with courage and distinction. His efforts paid off when the Marine Corps established the war dog detraining program. The program was a huge success and out of 559 Marine Corps dogs, only 19 had to be euthanized (15 due to health reasons and only four were considered too incorrigible for civilian life). Putney paints the reader a clear picture of what the training, the dogs and their handlers, and war was like. It is at times humorous and horrifying without bogging us down in military slang incomprehensible to the non-military reader. This memoir is a wonderful story for the history buff, military buff, and dog lover.