Disclaimer: notes transcribed as is, no editing has been made so as to preserve my original feelings as I read the chapter.
Part 7, Total War; Chapter 3, Darnell Hackworth.
Todd Wainio only mentioned the army’s K-9 Corps. in a roundabout sort of way and obviously the Israeli’s had a great deal of success using sniffer dogs but their use was rather limited. I think the Israeli’s didn’t really think about other uses, other types of training.
Darnell, and all dog handlers, trained side-by-side with their canine partners. That much is fairly usual, but the training itself; well, considering the new breed of enemy, the training could be nothing else but unusual, even unorthodox.
Sorting out the puppies certainly seems rather odd, but at least they weren’t in any danger at such a young age.
Those that made the “A” grade were in considerable danger after their training was completed, although it isn’t clear what the fate of the “B” grade puppies were.
These “A” grade mutts were trained thoroughly. Each pairing of dog & human being put through their paces. The road ahead was a treacherous one for these units, as their main goal was to lure the zombies towards the army. A ploy which made the battle at Hero City a success.
If a human had been used as bait to draw the ghouls to their final doom, it might have been a very different outcome. I can’t think of any person who might volunteer for such a duty. Not willingly & completely of their own free will.
The K-9 Corps filled that gap, but the humans who have benefited from the loyalty & training of these dogs, seem to have overlooked their canine counterparts. Only the handlers, like Darnell, remember.
Sniffing out the infected was a useful task, but luring the zombies out of buildings, towns & cities would of been of paramount importance if you wanted to clear a place without casualties. Human casualties though. The dogs seem to have had a few inescapable encounters with the enemy.
To Darnell, it seems the dogs were replaceable & of little consequence, hence some bitterness & resentment. His canine partner is so much more than a lure, to him Maze is a friend and rightly so. Who better than a friend to have at your side when the fit hits the shan.
He relates times when a dog has alerted the handler & the army grunts of a zombie shuffling nearby or dragging about unseen in long grass.
Of the dog being smart enough to race to the roof of a cleared building & bark at the enemy in a nearby building, drawing them out to picked off.
Decoys, Sweep and Clear, Long Range Patrol.
All valuable. All integral to the removal of the enemy from home soil.
What I didn’t like reading about was the “Data Orientation Asset”. It seems someone thought they could remove the handler element and had the witty idea to nickname it D.O.A.
Spiteful. Difficult for the handlers too, most times they were out in the field with their dogs. If not close by than at least in eyesight of their partner.
To see a dogs-eye-view and then to be completely out of the loop, with zero control, must of been difficult at best. If their partner was injured or outright killed, painful for the handler too.
This chapter is proving very difficult to write about, I know only a small amount about war dogs that have been used in various skirmishes over the years.
Some of the events & recollections Darnell speaks of leave me cold and more than a little confused.
Fragmuts for instance. I’ve heard of the Russians using dogs like this in World War II and I never much cared for the idea. We humans fight enough amongst ourselves, to bring another species into the fight is just plain wrong.
Then there’s the Mercy Charges the American dog handlers, Darnell included, petitioned for but never received. The icing on the whole rotten cake was what he refers to as the “Eckhart incident”.
Rather than let Sergeant Eckhart save her partner from being eaten by the enemy, some army officer
got in her face, started spouting regs and half-assed justifications.
That situation did not end well and apparently the army did not want another situation like it ever again.
Eckhart killed the officer and was later publicly executed.
Her partner, in a ditch with a broken leg, didn’t have any hope without Eckhart’s help.
Darnell mentions the high rate of suicides within the K-9 Corps, once a dog dies in the field, their handler usually follows.
Had Eckhart merely been imprisoned, I don’t think she would have lasted out her sentence.
Darnell Hackworth is a surprising man, for the partner of Maze admits to hating dogs pre-war. Admits that, at that time, he just couldn’t understand dog owners, the idea of being sentimental towards a life not of your own species.
You know that guy who’d always threaten to call Animal Control when your pooch barked at night?
[Motions to himself.]
Then the outbreak came. A pet store just a block away. Puppies yelping and barking for help against the multitude of zombies just outside the store. Dying from thirst, maybe even starvation.
I think it was a little too much for Mr. D Hackworth to bear. It must have sparked something inside. I agree, he couldn’t have saved them. Not with Zack so rooted outside the gate, but to this day I think he wishes he had at least tried to help.
What could I have done?…Something.
[Maze sighs in her sleep. Darnell pats her gently.]
I could have done something.