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New sculpture pays tribute to military working dogs

My Hero, My Friend,” a tribute to military working dogs sculptor Susan Norris. (Photo by Susan Norris)
Sculptor Susan Norris has a long history of touching the hearts of others through her art, but recently, she took on a new project — one involving man’s best friend in every day life, but perhaps even more so on the battlefield.

Titled “My Hero, My Friend,” Norris’ newest statue is a life-size bronze sculpture of a military working dog wearing a Purple Heart, mourning the loss of its two-legged companion.

“I’ve always had an affection for animals, but the bond between a military dog and its partner is on a whole other level,” Norris said in a press release.

This sculpture is meant to honor the bravery and dedication of a military service dog to its human handler, tugging at the heartstrings of passersby. The sculpture will reside at Veterans Memorial Park in Trophy Club, Texas, inside the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

“It’s moving to see people cry when they see my sculpture,” Norris added of the reactions to the sculture.

Military working dogs have gone by all manner of moniker throughout U.S. military history, including K-9 Corps and “war dogs.” In various combat eras, they served as guards, messengers, mascots and scouts, according to an Army book on military veterinary services.

As operations in Afghanistan and Iraq ramped-up, so too did the U.S. military’s efforts to build a canine program.

“Because of the growing threat of improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan and Iraq, mine detection training also resumed,” the book reads. “Dogs became members of forward deployed teams, served with airborne units, and were transported by helicopters when needed.”

Norris’ sculpture isn’t the first honoring combat canines, however. In 2008, Congress approved the Military Working Dog Teams National Monument, which was unveiled in 2013 at Joint Base San Antonio — Lackland.

“Humans are continually rediscovering that technology cannot match many canine senses and other inherent abilities, and they also realize that dogs continue to remain loyal even as equipment and conflicts evolve around them,” according to the book.