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Animal Heroes
Hill Anthony
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Supplement for Animal Heroes

Teachers’ Notes
Written by Roger Watts


The stimulus for this book came when Anthony Hill first heard the true story of Horrie the Wog Dog. As he explains in his background notes, he then became aware of a wealth of material stored at the Australian War Memorial - stuffed dogs, carrier pigeons, and a horse's head, for example - that led him to consider some of Australia's forgotten animal heroes.

Accounts of animals in war do exist. They have been used throughout history, but this is an attempt to capture the stories of animal heroics in connection with the Australian armed forces, not only in wars but peacetime as well. Whilst some of the stories are familiar, most of these animals appear for the first time.

Hill divides the book into four sections: the First World War, the Second World War, Korea and Vietnam, and Modern Times. Readers are therefore given a good understanding of how attitudes to the use of animals have changed over time. Teachers of various disciplines who wish to focus on a particular conflict are easily able to pick relevant sections for further study.

In the classroom, the book serves as a useful adjunct to textbooks emphasizing the human aspects of any conflict, for although the focus is on animals, it is in their relationship with their owners that their qualities become realised.

The material in the book falls roughly into three categories. Mostly these are stories of working animals, showing how the animal instincts have been utilised and trained to perform certain tasks. Many of those animals which have pushed, pulled, carried and died under appalling conditions remain anonymous, but there are a number of instances where either because of a particular relationship with their owner, or through the consequences of their actions, animals have achieved heroic status.

Other stories tell of animals that have been adopted as mascots because of their symbolic power. Eagles, crocodiles and rams all figure, but in addition anumber of waifs and strays are picked up by troops in conflict and it is interesting to see how the animals' instincts are utilised for mutual benefit.

Finally, Hill looks at those animals that have drifted into the lives of people caught up in conflict and done little more than provide them with comfort. But "little" is the wrong word, for as Hill says, ‘They are all living creatures with which servicemen and women can share those gentler emotions they so often have to suppress’. The contribution of these animals is often underestimated.

This book also offers an excellent opportunity for students to explore the role of animals in literature. There is an extensive tradition going back through Disney cartoons, movies, poetry, novels and Aesop's Fables.

Please click onto the PDF icon (above) to open the full and printable version of the Teachers' Notes for this title . . .



Teachers' Notes



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