August 18 in Russia is the Day of the front dog. During the Great Patriotic War, in the Soviet army were several tens of thousands of trained service dogs. There were entire services with different specializations. The Soviet know-how was the training of dogs – tank destroyers. The fighting dogs destroyed about 300 tanks, saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of wounded, found millions of mines and landmines laid by the retreating Nazis. How it all started Dogs were used in the army in a limited way during the First World War. However, targeted training of dogs for military purposes began to be practiced already in Soviet times. In 1924, the Central training and experimental kennel of military dogs was opened in the Moscow region, working at the Vyshrel Higher Rifle-Tactical School. By the end of the 1920s, a network of 12 kennels – military dog breeding schools was deployed in the USSR. On their basis, the training of military dogs began. Moreover, in addition to traditional services – communications and sanitary – experimental techniques were also practiced that were absent in other armies. Since the beginning of the 30s, active training was carried out for dogs – tank destroyers. Since 1934, sabotage dogs have been trained as an experiment – these dogs were supposed to operate behind enemy lines after landing on an airplane. On June 22, 1941 the Great Patriotic War began. The scale of the hostilities was so huge that the dogs in the kennels and schools were obviously not enough. I had to carry out a kind of mobilization. Dogs that were under the care of individual citizens, surrendered to the state without fail. Ordinary mutts were also caught. Of these, dog handlers selected the most suitable for solving official tasks. Tank destroyers. Training of four-legged tank destroyers was Soviet know-how. From the very beginning of the 30s it was precisely this area in military dog breeding that was considered a priority. Dogs were trained in a special exploding satchel, with which they had to climb under the tank. During training, the dogs were not fed for a long time, and then they put on a model of an explosive satchel and sent it to meet the tank. As soon as they climbed under the bottom of the tank, the lower hatch opened and the dogs were given a treat. Later, when the dogs got used to getting under the tank, they were trained not to be afraid of machine guns and get to the target even under heavy fire. It took a lot of effort to train one anti-tank dog. Not all dogs were so fearless that, in spite of obstacles, explosions and powerful fire, they were torn to the target. Each such dog was worth its weight in gold. Tank destroyers made up no more than 14% of the total number of service dogs in the army. Unfortunately, this technique had a huge minus. In the vast majority of cases, the use of a dog was a one-way ticket for her, so tank destroyer dogs were attracted only at critical moments. Their widest use became in the first, most difficult period of the war. So, in 1941, out of two thousand fighting dogs sent to the front from dog schools, more than a thousand were trained specifically for tank extermination. During this period, the dogs managed to knock out or destroy 192 enemy tanks. And over the entire period of the bloody war, four-legged tank destroyers destroyed about 300 vehicles. Signal dogs Using dogs to deliver reports was recognized as extremely successful. Dogs are less likely than humans to become victims of enemy fire, in addition, they moved much faster. On the Leningrad Front, where a liaison office consisting of six dogs was added to one of the regiments, it was noted that one trained animal easily replaces two messenger people due to speed, unpretentiousness, survivability and good night vision. The preparation of messenger dogs was much easier than tank destroyers, and the losses they suffered are much smaller. For such dogs, bulky special devices were not required – reports, as a rule, were attached to the collar. Dogs could even run through areas occupied by the enemy, moreover, they were not threatened with captivity and interrogation. That is why about 10% of all service dogs in the army were connected. In winter, such dogs were priceless and allowed to evacuate a larger number of wounded in a short period of time – one medical team replaced an average of three or four orderlies. territories, sanitary dogs in separate units almost completely replaced people. In addition, they were often used to transport ammunition. This, again, made it possible to save time for the delivery of goods, since dog sledges easily passed where equipment was stuck. Dog-sappers Dogs of the mine search service became the second largest in the Soviet army. They made up a third of the total number of army dogs. At the second stage of the war, training dogs capable of detecting landmines became a priority. With the liberation of large territories from the enemy, it became necessary to mine them. It was noted that in those areas where dogs are searching for mines, the detonations were reduced to practically zero. In addition, the animals worked very carefully and did not miss on one mortar bomb, which made them famous as ideal sappers. During the war, fearless sappers found over 4 million mines, landmines and other explosive devices. They participated in the clearance of all major cities of the USSR and Europe, freed from the Nazis. Famous dogs The most famous Soviet front-line dog was an East European shepherd named Dzhulbars. There are still many legends about her. For example, it is claimed that he was the only dog awarded the Military Merit Medal. Also known is the story of how the wounded Dzhulbars was allegedly carried at the Victory Parade on Stalin's tunic at the request of the leader. Dzhulbars was really a very talented dog, which discovered over 7 thousand mines and landmines. However, he did not become a champion. Collie nicknamed Dick surpassed the result of Dzhulbarsa. Dick was at the front from the first days and went through the whole war. At first he served as a cohesive dog, then he was retrained into a sled dog for sanitary service. At the last stage of the war, when all dogs were retrained for mine search, Dick joined the mine search service and achieved great success. He has accounted for more than 12 thousand discovered explosive devices, including a powerful landmine in the Pavlovsky Palace. As one of the few sabotage dogs, the Dean Shepherd became famous. Training sabotage dogs has been conducted in the USSR since the mid-1930s, but due to the very high complexity of training, the use of dogs for sabotage was extremely rare. Only isolated cases are known. In particular, in 1943, Dina was able to safely undermine the German echelon. She managed to run out onto the rails in front of an approaching train, throw off a pack with explosives and pull out a fuse with her teeth. The train crashed, and the dog safely returned to its counselor – Filatov. Later, Dina was retrained as a sapper. In the USSR, rewarding service dogs with any special awards was not practiced. For the successful completion of combat missions by dogs, only their counselors or dog trainers were awarded. During the war they received about one and a half thousand orders and medals. Nevertheless, some dogs were able to take part in the famous Victory Parade. On June 24, 1945, a combined detachment of sappers marched along Red Square with their four-legged mine assistants.