Jet, The Wonder Dog

• James Baldwin was a soldier during World War I and saw how effectively the German army used dogs. Dogs had been used to carry first aid to wounded soldiers, to run messages, and to help lay landlines. When World War II started, Baldwin petitioned Parliament to set up a program to use dogs for various functions just as the Germans did.
• Baldwin set up a demonstration and invited over 80 Army officers. The demonstration was very effective. As a result, he was named Dog Advisor and Chief Training Officer in 1942, serving under the Royal Air Force.
• What Baldwin needed now was dogs, and he placed an advertisement in newspapers throughout England asking for donations of puppies. A litter of five German Shepard pups was donated. One of the pups, a pure black dog named Jet, was particularly intelligent.
• After initial training as a guard dog, Jet was posted to the American Army Air Force in Northern Ireland, to work with a handler on anti-sabotage duty around airfields.
• Meanwhile, Colonel James Baldwin was watching a film called “The Seige of Stalingrad.” It was during this film that he decided that dogs could be trained to point snipers in the same way bird dogs point birds. He collected several dogs in training, including Jet, and then took them to a bombed-out neighborhood in Birmingham. Twelve “snipers” had hidden in the wreckage, and the dogs were given the command to find them. After all but one of the snipers had been found, Jet remained behind, digging at a small hole no larger than a man’s hand.
• Jet’s handler found the last man hiding twelve feet down. He had gone below ground and wormed his way to the cellar of another building, sealing off the entrance hole. There he lay in wait with just the small opening that Jet had found for a breathing hole.
• This gave Colonel Baldwin the idea that if a dog could detect the presence of someone so far below ground, then dogs could be used to find people buried during the bombardment of London. In 1944, Jet received training as one of the Britain’s first search and rescue dogs.
• Jet attended his first air raid rescue in 1944. Together with his handler, Jet went on to recover 125 people, 50 of whom were alive.
• In one remarkable instance, Jet was searching the rubble of a bombed-out hotel when he indicated a survivor high overhead. The rubble had already been checked over and rescuers were sure no one remained in the wreckage, yet Jet refused to leave the tall brick chimney shaft. He stood his ground for 11 agonizing hours, until tall ladders could be found that would reach the top of the leaning chimney stack. There rescuers found a 63-year-old woman, covered in plaster dust, and stuck on a narrow ledge which was all that remained of the top floor of the hotel. For this remarkable rescue, Jet was awarded a medal.
• When the war ended, Jet was called out on a search and rescue mission when a coal mine erupted in explosion. Jet was called to the scene to help locate bodies of the dead miners. While searching deep underground, Jet suddenly whined and backed up, forcing his handler to step backwards as well. The handler called for everyone to retreat, seconds before the ceiling collapsed in rubble in the exact spot where they had been standing moments earlier.
• Jet went on to learn sheep herding and was entered in many obedience trials. He also served to help train other search and rescue dogs. Jet died of heart and kidney problems in 1949 at the age of 7. Today a memorial to Jet’s faithful service stands in a park in Liverpool.

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