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It is not all that often that I read a tale, the central focus of which is an animal. However, stories of animals that military forces have used over the years, intrigue me. Judy: A Dog in a Million, (Also titled Judy: The Unforgettable Story of the Dog Who Went to War and Became a Hero," by Damien Lewis, did not disappoint. It tells the story of an English pointer, originally dubbed Shudi by her Chinese caregiver, whose life really began when she escaped from the Shanghai Kennels. Eventually the crew of an English gunboat adopted her as their “gundog.” It seems it was common at the time, for gunboat personnel to take on a mascot, be it a dog, cat, pigeon, or even a monkey. Judy proved herself a valuable member of the crew—though they soon discovered she seemed to have “a fatal flaw in her ‘pointing’ abilities’”—when she warned them of dangers coming their way.
Judy’s life was one of adventure and mishap. Interestingly, there seemed to be a divine hand of protection over her, as she escaped from a number of life threatening incidents, only to land in a Japanese concentration camp where she spent over three years. There, with the latest of her friends and protectors, she provided her human comrades not only a morale booster, but also the occasional meal, in the form of a snake, rat, or other small creature. She also earned herself an official Japanese prisoner-of-war number. All this, though it was highly unlikely for a dog to survive the Koran camp guards—as they, like the camp inmates, lived on starving rations—and the guards ate dog. After leaving the camp with the one man she loved above all others, Royal Air Force technician Frank Williams, Judy finally made her way to freedom. If you are looking for a story of inspiration and encouragement, look no further than Judy: A Dog in a Million.