As I scanned the shelves of old books from our family’s collection in my brother’s study, I spotted “The Fireside Book of Dog Stories.”  I had vague memories of it from childhood and was in the mood for reading shorter pieces about dogs, so I borrowed it.  Turns out this collection is interesting for a number of reasons, not just because of the subject matter but also because of it as a representative of its times.

FiresideBookThis note appears on the copyright page:

About the Appearance of Books in Wartime

A recent ruling by the War Production Board has curtailed the use of paper by book publishers in 1943.

In line with this ruling and in order to conserve materials and manpower, we are cooperating by:

  1. Using lighter-weight paper which reduces the bulk of our books substantially.
  2. Printing books with smaller margins and with more words to each page.  Result: fewer pages per book.  Slimmer and smaller books will save paper and plate metal and labor.  We are sure that readers will understand the publishers’ desire to co-operate as fully as possible with the objectives of the War Production Board and our government.

The message on the back of the jacket also caught my attention because of my interest in Military Working Dogs:

A Message To America’s Dog-Owners

TOTAL WAR has made it necessary to call to the colors many of the nation’s dogs.  Thousands of dogs, donated by patriotic men, women, and children and trained for special duties with the Armed Forces, are serving on all fronts as well as standing guard against saboteurs at home.

The message goes on to readers to  “speed news of this need to every corner of the land” and describes the types of dogs needed–large breeds, “not gun-shy, not storm-shy” and refers readers to contact Dogs for Defense in New York City to register a dog for duty.

In my book, “Dogs on Duty: Soldiers’ Best Friends on the Battlefield and Beyond,” I write about the war dogs of WWII and the important jobs they took on.  Here’s a poster used to convince people to donate their beloved family pets to the cause.

DogsForDefenseI can’t imagine the sadness of a child giving up his canine best friend in this way, but patriotism was very strong during WWII.  Still……..what a sacrifice!


  1. the Army cavalry out of Fort Riley Kansas were active until the Phillipines in WWII. They were part of a program that rescued dogs and horses after the end of the war, especially in Germany. In Vietnam the dogs that were such a major part of the effort were abandoned and no one is really sure what happened to those dogs. There is a great story for you there. Finally, one of the handlers got a war memorial to the Vietnam war dogs in Washington DC.

    Linda Helding
    1. The story of the Vietnam dogs is very sad. A colleague, Mike Lemish, is the former historian for the Vietnam Dog Handlers Association, wrote a book about these canine and human heros,”Forever Forward: K-9 in Vietnam.” In this book, Mike gives a good history of what happened to the dogs at the end of the war. Mike found the photo in this blog post showing the boy giving up his dog for Dogs for Defense in the National Archives.

      Dorothy Patent

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