Our thoughts naturally turn to the brave men and women who have served our country with courage and honor. It is also important to remember and honour the four-legged heroes that stood by their side during times of conflict. The Dickin Medal, instituted by the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) in the United Kingdom, and quickly instituted in Canada, recognizes the exceptional contributions of animals in the military.
Gander, a brave Newfoundland dog whose story exemplifies the extraordinary service of animals in the Canadian military. Gander served during World War II and was posthumously awarded the Dickin Medal in 2000 for his heroic actions in the Battle of Hong Kong in 1941.
During the battle, Gander's unit was tasked with holding a crucial position, and he played a pivotal role in saving lives. As Japanese forces advanced, a live grenade landed among Canadian soldiers. Gander picked up the grenade and carried it away from his comrades, sacrificing himself to save their lives. His courageous act showcased the unwavering loyalty and bravery of service animals in the military.
The Dickin Medal, often referred to as the "Victoria Cross for animals," has been awarded to 60 animals in Canada, including pigeons, horses, and dogs, for their acts of service during times of war.
To learn more about Gander and other animals awarded the Dickin Medal, you can visit the official PDSA website dedicated to the medal: PDSA Dickin Medal. You can also read more stories of Dickin Medal recipients here.