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Historical

How This Author Helped Document The Dogs Which Helped Keep Soldiers Happy During WWII

Douglas Keeney author of "Buddies: Men, Dogs and World War II" discusses how he put the book together and the importance these dogs played during World War II.

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"We wanted to see the dog, we wanted to see what made them smile back in 1943"

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Fred Morley Keystone Topical Press Agency M. McNeill Fox Photos Arthur Tanner Payne Express
TRANSCRIPT This transcript was generated by AudioBurst technologies

How do you, Doug when you were putting this book together how do you decide which pictures you are going to use and where did you get all of these pictures? -Ya, so I was actually researching  a different book at the time and I ran into about a dozen photographs of dogs with soldiers and they struck me as a little unusual so I put them aside and I came back to them a couple days later at the national archive which is our nations repository of photography and when I came to them I asked for a little assistance and we spent the next ten days digging through the archives, two and half million photographs to see if there were more of these  and we ended up with about 500 photographs that had been taken of dogs and cats with soldiers in various, in the various theaters of combat and from those 500 we whittled them down to the number you see in the book which I gathered is about 200 photographs and you know had things like clarity and quality of the pictures, but also we would have seen the expressions on the animals faces we wanted to see the dog, we wanted to see what made them smile back in 1943 and 44 so a lot of them we choose because it was clear we could see the picture we could see the animal, we could see the dog's face as well as the solider and they made the final cut and the publisher has been just wonderful to work with there in Wisconsin and the book came out this year so it took a while, it took over a year in total, but I think what we ended up with is something that is really a first and it documents a serious effort during the war to send images home to the home front that would tell the parents and the husbands and sisters of our soldiers that their guys were okay, you know things were going okay they had a friend. - You know its interesting there is one picture in the book that the one guy has got a gas mask on and the dog is looking at him going Oh my God what is on your face. - Isn't that wonderful those are real these are not mascots that were designated by some official, you know these are just picked dogs that were just picked up in theater they were strays one of them is called Doc Sunshine and Doc Sunshine was one of my favorites because he roamed the sick bays on the coast guard coasters that would hang off shore the invasion beaches and Doc Sunshine did then what dogs do today, they help us get better, its just what they do you know you smile a little bit and if you are an injured solider, it's nothing like a smile to help you get better.