If there were already many monuments featuring animals in the spotlight, the work which was unveiled on October 20, 2022 in Suippes, in the Marne, is this time exclusively dedicated to ‘hero dogs’. It thus celebrates all those who accomplish feats, whether within the armies or the organizations and institutions that use them in the countless specialties for which they are still essential today.
Carried out on the initiative of the Canine Central (already initiator of the ‘Trophies of the hero dogs’ which rewards each year the most valiant canids), this project supported by the French Army and the city of Suippes required four years of effort. , between the paralysis due to the Covid, the collection of the necessary funds (150,000 euros) and the choice of the artist among the fifty projects proposed. It was the ‘paw’ of the Colombian sculptor Milthon who finally won the adhesion with a bronze representing a hairy man and his dog posted in the front line, presumably in the rain or in the cold and which keeps each other warm.
The sculpture, which measures 1.20 m high and weighs 150 kg, takes on a monolithic appearance from certain angles which can give a feeling of being unfinished. However, it is necessary to take an interest in Milthon’s career to appreciate his approach and the spirit of his line. Like a successful photo, the block guides the gaze towards a single converging point: the dog’s muzzle, that is ultimately the essential. This graphic line went hand in hand with the words of the president of the canine central, Alexandre Balzer: “What our most faithful companions can accomplish in their missions is to render service, to save souls and lives. Whether they are at our service or a simple walking companion, they represent stability, attachment and the simple happiness of a look or the brush of a nose. »
The largest kennel in Europe in Suippes
This unveiling was therefore an important event that attracted most specialists in the genre, with a successful highlighting by the 132e Cynotechnic infantry regiment: the large French tank of military dogs itself based on a cable’s length from the village of Suippes. This unique unit, whose primary mission is to train and supply all the dogs intended for the land/air/sea characteristics of the French Army, has a permanent staffing of 500 animals. It is often referred to as the largest kennel in Europe.
Placed moreover in front of the town hall and near the Marne 14-18 interpretation center (a small quality museum based on the Great War), the monument to hero dogs could not find the best location, even if it is not exclusively oriented towards the military thing.
The day ended with a visit to the 132nd, with a few dynamic demonstrations and the holding of a mini dog show and military equipment.
Yet while this posthumous tribute to all the dogs who served man inscribes for posterity the debt our species owes them, it does not mask that dogs who served in the military or police do not benefit from any financial assistance upon retirement. According to two agents met during the celebrations, only the Customs administration offers, like the Italian carabinieri (the equivalent of our national gendarmerie), veterinary care to those whose masters have recovered at home at the time of their reform …