Marker Monday: K-9 Training Area, Fort Robinson

 

Marker Text


In September 1942 the Fort Robinson War Dog Training Center was established. Barracks, classrooms, administrative offices, and other support buildings were located west and north of here. To the east and north was a sprawling kennel area housing 1,800 dogs. The dogs were trained as guard, scout, messenger, and sled dogs. Training normally lasted 8 to 12 weeks. Nearly 5,000 dogs, half the number used by the Army in World War II, were trained here. The center was deactivated in June 1946.

 

Location


U.S. 20, Harrison, Dawes County, Nebraska; view this marker’s location 42.667331, -103.4617

 

Read on


During World War II, Fort Robinson was home to a K-9 Training Center which prepared dogs for use in the military in the war.

K-9 kennels at Fort Robinson. RG1517-PH52-36

 

Dogs For Defense For centuries, dogs have been used by militaries for various purposes. Germany, Japan and England all had dog units during World War II. Shortly after Pearl Harbor, a group of prominent American civilians created Dogs For Defense, Inc. to convince the military to create its own dog program. The secretary of war created such a program in February of 1942. Almost all of the dogs used in the program, which was coordinated by Dogs For Defense, were donated. By the end of the war, 18,000 dogs were used.

Dog and trainer chasing soldier over obstacle course, Fort Robinson, 1943. RG1517-52-1

 

At Fort Robinson Fort Robinson was one of two army bases used to train K-9 units. (The other was Front Royal, Virginia.) Its remote location and connection to the railroad made it an ideal place to train dogs. On October 3, 1942, the K-9 division of Fort Robinson accepted its first shipment of dogs. Several days later, the first trainees arrived. Both civilian and military trainers were used to train military personnel how to use the dogs. Each trainee had to feed and groom his own set of dogs. After two weeks of basic training, the trainees and dogs were sorted into different groups for specialized training, which took four to six weeks. The primary use for the dogs was as sentries or attack dogs. These dogs had to be trained to get used to gunfire and violence. Other dogs served as scouts, messengers or sled dogs. The biggest risk of working with dogs was dog bites. Corporal George Henne was bitten several times while at the Fort. “[Corporal Henne] found that it does not pay to hold your hand in front of one of the trained dogs too long,” a newspaper reported. Many of the dogs were sent to guard bases and Prisoner of War camps, while others were sent overseas. At the height of operations in 1944, Fort Robinson had 1,353 dogs on hand and had deployed 3,565. The people who donated the dogs often wrote to see how their dogs were doing. The staff usually responded to the letters. One eleven year-old asked “if I can put a star in my window because I gave you my dog.” The program was ended after war came to a close.

 

Soldier agitating dog before a training run, Fort Robinson, 1943. RG1517-52-9

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

You May Also Enjoy

The Woman on the White Horse

The Woman on the White Horse

The Silver Bugs of 1896

The Silver Bugs of 1896

Marker Monday: Japanese Balloon Bombs

Marker Monday: Japanese Balloon Bombs

About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

History Nebraska Education

Learn more about the educational programs provided at our museums, sites, and online.

Education Digital Learning Resources

Find games, lists, and more to enhance your history education curriculum.

History Nebraska Programs

Learn more about the programs associated with History Nebraska.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast!

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

History Nebraska Services

Digital Resources

Find all of our digital resources, files, videos, and more, all in one easy-to-search page!

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.