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Remembrance and the purple poppy

The Purple Poppy

Many of us, young and old, choose to wear a poppy in November to show our respect for those who died fighting in the First World War and the conflicts that have followed it.

This Sunday at NHHQ, animal-lovers that we are, we will be also wearing our Purple Poppies with pride. The purple poppy – initially created in 2006 by the charity Animal Aid – is worn to remember animals who served in conflicts. Throughout history, all sorts of animals including dogs, horses and pigeons, have been drafted into various war efforts. It is estimated that 8 million horses and donkeys died in the course of the First World War alone. Since 2016, purple poppies have been sold by the Murphy’s Army charity.

This year, the chosen beneficiaries for the purple poppies sold through the charity are:

The Horse Trust

The Horse Trust specialise in providing retirement and respite for working horses that have served our nation in the police or military.


Murphy’s Army

Murphy, a Siberian husky, was stolen in 2014 but safely reunited with his owners after some three months. The team of helpers, drawn together by his absence, pledged to continue and help other owners whose pets were missing.


Smokey Paws

Smokey Paws are a not-for-profit organisation who provide life-saving pet resuscitation equipment to Emergency Services throughout the UK.


As for our beloved canines, dogs in war have a long history which started in very ancient times; the earliest use of war dogs in a battle was recorded in classical sources as by Alattes of Lydia against the Cimmerians around 600 BC (you know! The Cimmerians! Actually – we had to look that one up, too). From war dogs trained to act in combat, to sentries, to tracker dogs, the use of animals in war has been extremely varied. The deployment of dogs into combat continues to the most modern of modern day – you may remember but a fortnight or so ago, the President across the pond tweeted a photograph of a handsome heroic dog – whose name remains classified – who was instrumental in a particular recent military action. It is certainly clear that animals are constantly used on the front lines in strategic positions, providing valuable and integral service to the military around the globe.

We therefore politely suggest that, in the silence that envelopes 11 o’clock on remembrance Sunday, we stand together to all dedicate a moment or two of those brief 120 seconds of reflection to remember our animal companions who – against their will – have had their lives taken in terrible human conflict. Spare a thought for the victims of war – canine and equine – and say to ourselves silently and solemnly: we will remember them.

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