Dogs in the KFS Military
Despite the Kentucky Free State’s attempts to portray itself as a high-tech nation, it cannot rely entirely on machinery. It makes extensive use of animals (specifically dogs) for military purposes . Some carry messages, some help in patrolling, some do guard duty, some are trained locate injured personnel , and others are draft animals – tasked with pulling or carrying supplies.
Several types of dogs are used. Not all dogs selected have to be large or strong – but all must be capable of being trained. The KFS has been fairly successful in establishing a number of breeds and the current “Military Dog” is a medium-to-large animal with good natural camouflage and an outstandingly loyal temperament. However, it is not the only type of dog used and some “Terrier” dogs are considered well-suited for “guard” and “first aid” roles.
Dogs begin their training at approximately 6 weeks of age. After 6 months they are tested to see if they are suitable for further training. Dogs which show signs of nervousness or fear of loud noises are removed from the program (and often provide additional supplies for the local sausage makers). Survivors must demonstrate a willingness to follow their masters over very rough terrain, operate at night, and must show agility, courage and stamina. For another 3 months, they receive specialised training for their assigned duties and will eventually be assigned to a KFS unit. The trainer will also be assigned for a transition period. He will remain with the unit until the dog has become used to the new master and his comrades (usually 3 weeks or less)
Duties After Training
(1) Patrol dogs: These dogs are assigned to reconnaissance units or the Secret Police. The dog will either accompany its master as “point” on a patrol (or tracking mission) or it can precede the patrol by 30 to 40 yards. The dog will scent the presence of any stranger, and warn the patrol by either returning silently to its master or by pointing. Naturally, such dogs are often nicknamed “bird dogs”
(2) Messenger dogs. The most intelligent dogs are used as messengers. Message containers are flexible leather cylinders which are strapped to a dog’s harness or collar. The dogs can either find their way by memory or follow a scented trail (aniseed or peppermint is used to mark a trail by dropping a small amount every 10 metres or so)
(3) First-aid dogs. These dogs are assigned to Medical units and are trained to seek out wounded soldiers after a combat. Their harness is often used to carry first aid kits. When they find an injured soldier soldier lying down, they return to their masters and guide them to the wounded.
(4) Guard dogs: Usually assigned to HQ or Military Police units. An obvious role, these are trained to attack strangers or to give warning of their presence. Interestingly, it has been found that the smaller dogs are often most useful for this job
(5) Draft dogs: These pull sleds or other small vehicles, usually in areas where roads are poor or non-existent.