Karen B. London
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Rip the Dog Has His Day
War hero’s medal fetches big money.
Rip the dog sports his Dickin Medal, alongside his handler, Air Raid Precaution Warden E. King.

The prestigious Dickin Medal awarded to a British dog in the 1940s has sold at auction for $35,700 (or to be more accurate 24,250 British pounds), which was £10,000 pounds more than expected. The medal had been awarded to Rip, a wiry-haired stray, for his search and rescue work during World War II. He found more than 100 survivors who were trapped in the wreckage resulting from the German bombs of The Blitz.

Prior to his heroics, Rip himself apparently survived a bombing. After losing his home, he was adopted by an air raid warden. He is usually described as “coming from a complex ancestry,” which seems a fancy way of saying that he was a mutt.

The Dickin Medal was established during World War II to recognize the work of animals in war. More pigeons have won the award than any other species, followed by dogs, though one cat and several horses have also received the honor. The medal itself reads “For Gallantry” and “We Also Serve.” Rip wore the medal on his collar for the rest of his life, and the phrase “We Also Serve” appears on his tombstone.

The fact that Rip’s medal sold for an amount that exceeded expectations is yet more tangible evidence of the ever-increasing value people are placing on animals, especially dogs. Sixty years after he won the award, Rip’s accomplishment is still highly valued, and the proof of his recognition is treasured.


Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

Image made available by PDSA, a veterinary charity in the United Kingdom.

CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by Carolyn with Ma... | April 29 2009 |

I love the last paragraph. Great legacy from Rip!

Submitted by Lisa Wogan | April 29 2009 |

Karen's post about Rip reminded me of The Animals' War exhibition at the Imperial War Museum in London. I saw it a few years back, and wrote about for The Bark. It focused on the experiences of animals during the first World War. While there was a lot of emphasis on heroism and teamwork in that show, I was struck mostly by the sacrifices and suffering of these innocent bystanders. In wars all creatures suffer and usually we don't spend much time thinking about the animals. To learn more about the exhibition, I'd heartily recommend visiting the website: http://london.iwm.org.uk/upload/package/74/AnimalsWar/index.htm

Submitted by Kathy Konetzka-Close | April 30 2009 |

Aren't dogs amazing????

Submitted by Anne Good | May 3 2009 |

Love the picture! I have one similar to that of my grandfather during the war with his German Shepherd. It's probably where my passion for dogs got started.

Anne Good

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