LOS ANGELES —The first national monument to pay tribute to military dogs soon will be unveiled in California. The U.S. Working Dog Teams National Monument will honor every dog that has served in combat since World War II.
Some cities, cemeteries and military bases across the country already have such memorials. But none has been elevated to national monument level.
In 2000, John Burnam, a 65-year-old veteran military dog handler, wrote a book called “Dog Tags of Courage.” A year later, he got an email from a reader wondering why there were no national monuments to the dogs of war.
In 2004, Burnam and two other dog handler veterans formed the John Burnam Monument Foundation Inc. But it took two more years that the monument project started to take shape.
Burnam designed the monument, which depicts the modern military handler and four dogs: a Doberman, German shepherd, Labrador retriever and Belgian Malinois, all breeds used in wars.
The silicon bronze handler stands more than 9 feet tall and weighs 1,500 pounds. Each dog is about 5 feet tall and weighs 550 pounds.
The sculptor is Paula Slater.
The public will get a sneak peak of the monument at the Jan. 1 Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena, when a floral reproduction will be used as the Natural Balance company’s float. Burnam, dogs and handlers from every military service branch will ride.
When the float goes on display afterward at Victory Park, the real bronze monument will make its public debut next to it.
Natural Balance and Thedogphotographer.com The bulldog, Tillman, being inducted as an honorary Marine, Private 1st Class, with his trainer, Ron Davis, left, and Sergeant Major Gene Overstreet, at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. (AP Photo/Natural Balance, The Dog Photographer)×
John Burnam Monument Foundation A conceptual drawing of the U.S. Military Working Dog Teams National Monument. (AP Photo/John Burnam Monument Foundation, Inc.)×
Natural Balance War handler veteran, author and designer, John Burnam, left, and veteran portrait sculptor, Paula Slater, stand with the silicon bronze 9.5-feet tall military dog handler that is part of the U.S. Working Dogs Teams National Monument (AP Photo/Natural Balance)×
Natural Balance A rendering of a float called “Canines with Courage,” the Natural Balance entry for the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena on Jan. 1 is shown. War handler veteran, John Burnam, and dogs and handlers from every branch of the service will ride the float. (AP Photo/Natural Balance)×
John Burnam Monument Foundation The frontal view of the U.S. Military Working Dog Teams National Monument. (AP Photo/John Burnam Monument Foundation, Inc.)×
Natural Balance A bulldog, Tillman, in Marine Boot Camp at College Park in Oxnard, Calif. (AP Photo/Natural Balance)×