WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. - Veterans will be on hand this weekend at the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery, where Westchester will celebrate man’s best friend at the annual War Dog Memorial Celebration.
On Sunday, military veterans who have worked alongside their canine companions in the field will be the guests of honor at the annual event, where they will speak about their experiences and relationships with military working dogs (MWDs).
Marine Corps combat veteran Matthew Plumeri is scheduled to offer the keynote address, where he will discuss his “indescribable bond” with his partner, Gulliver, an 11-year-old Visla who was at his side during their deployment into some of the most dangerous regions in Afghanistan.
“Matthew Plumeri will be bringing his dog Gulliver with him,” Hartsdale Pet Cemetery Director Edward Martin Jr. said. “Matthew overcame many obstacles in the process of adopting Gulliver.”
Nancy Schiesari, who recently directed and produced “Canine Soldiers, The Militarization of Love,” a documentary that “explores the intimate bond between MWDs and their handlers, (the) combat soldiers who make life and death decisions based on the instincts of the dogs who lead their patrols," will also speak at the event. The film is scheduled to air on PBS later this year.
According to Schiesari, who is a professor at the University of Texas, she will discuss how WMDs are bred, how their relationships with the soldiers develop and what it’s like to live on the interdependence of one another in the face of war.
“These soldiers don’t have battle buddies to the right and left of them like a regular line soldier. Their only battle buddy is that dog. They literally place their lives in the nose of that dog.”
Martin said that “has no doubt that this will be (the) most poignant War Dog Memorial celebration ever.”
The War Dog Memorial Celebration will be held at 1 p.m. on Sunday, June 11 at the cemetery on Central Park Avenue in Hartsdale.