KLRU sponsored, distribution secured
Canine Soldiers: the Militarization of Love is a one-hour documentary film that explores the intimate bond between Military Working Dogs and their handlers—combat soldiers who make life-and-death decisions based on the instincts and behavior of the dogs who lead their patrols. In wars where the rules of engagement have shifted from traditional combat to the unforeseen and the invisible, these highly trained dogs are saving soldiers’ lives and giving them comfort, hope and protection.
Military working dog teams have become the most effective agents in detecting explosives and chemical weapons at home and abroad. Their mission is to save lives, not kill. From rigorous training to deployment, we follow our soldier handlers to learn what it takes to become a successful MWD team. We explain how the dogs are bred, how their relationships with their handlers develop, and what it’s like for our handler teams to live in interdependence on the war front. Deployed soldiers eat, sleep, shower and patrol with their dog by their side. This special bond is critical in forming a relationship of trust where each understands and reads each other’s cues. One trainer remarked, "These soldiers don't have battle buddies to the right and left of them like a regular line soldier. Their only battle buddy really is that dog. They literally place their lives in the nose of that dog.”
Canine Soldiers will be the first war documentary told from the point of view of a soldier/dog team, molding together their poignant stories with reflections from notable animal scholars who think outside the box about the significance of co-species evolution. Relying on dogs to keep us safe in war is only the continuation of a long history of co-evolution with canines. Even in this age of advanced technology, we are again relying on a “primitive” animal’s superior sense of smell to survive.
Does being dependent on another species to keep us safe during war open our hearts to new truths about ourselves, our connection to nature and ultimately to what it means to be human? The film also raises the ethical question: Is coopting a sentient being in conflicts that involve violence ever justifiable?
On Canine Soldiers
In a war where the rules of engagement have shifted from traditional front-line combat to the unforeseen and the invisible, highly trained working dogs’ natural intelligence and remarkable instincts are providing soldiers with comfort, hope, and protection. These canine companions have become our most effective agents in detecting explosives and chemical weapons at home and abroad.
Relying on dogs to keep us safe in war continues a long history of co-species evolution with canines.
While we anticipate TV distribution in 2-D, we choose to film in 3-D to bring a fresh perspective to the way audiences understand the experience of war. Average viewers have become desensitized to the wars in the Middle East in part because of a visually flattened representation of war: vast expanses of desert, sand, the colour of khaki uniforms. 3-D gives us new visual elements, like tracking shots at ground level to simulate a dog’s point of view.
Animated sequences will function to illustrate some of the memories that soldiers recount in interviews to allow the audience to enter the emotional space of these combat stories. These moments can be expanded with animation to bring us into the sensory world of the dog team as handlers relive heightened moments from the battlefield. Animation will also illustrate the role that dogs have played in our history and mythology as our guides."
On the Larger Themes
Canine Soldiers will be the first film of its kind to bring together the poignant stories of soldiers and their canine companions with scholarly reflections about the significance of co-species evolution. Our on-camera scholars, university professors ranging from specialists on the history of domestic animals to experts on the “compassion footprint” of contemporary society, provide context and meditations on the ethics and deeper meanings of involving dogs in our warfare. Does being dependent on another species to keep us safe during war open our hearts to new truths about ourselves, to our connection to nature, and ultimately to what it means to be truly human?