Military Working Dogs set at Aug. 1 stamp show in Omaha
By Michael Baadke
A set of four United States forever stamps honoring military working dogs will be issued Aug. 1.
The ceremony will take place on the opening day of APS Stampshow, the American Philatelic Society’s annual summer convention and exhibition, which is being held this year in association with the National Topical Stamp Show sponsored by the American Topical Association.
The joint show will host a first-day ceremony for the new nondenominated (55¢) stamps at noon (Central Time) at the CHI Health Convention Center, 455 N. 10th St., Omaha, Neb.
The stamp show and the ceremony are both free and open to the public. The U.S. Postal Service encourages online advance registration for the ceremony.
David C. Williams, vice chairman of the U.S. Postal Service board of governors, will dedicate the new issue.
The stamps are being issued in a double-sided pane of 20, which the Postal Service describes as a booklet.
USPS contractor Banknote Corporation of America has printed and processed 150 million stamps (7.5 million panes) of the Military Working Dogs issue.
The design of each stamp is a stylized illustration depicting one of four dog breeds serving today in the U.S. armed forces: the German shepherd, the Labrador retriever, the Belgian Malinois and the Dutch shepherd.
“The background of each stamp features a detail of a white star,” the Postal Service said. “A star appears in the center of each block. The stylized digital illustrations are in red, white, blue, and gold to represent the American flag and patriotism. The art was created by DKNG Studios.”
USPS art director Greg Breeding designed the new stamps.
Each stamp is inscribed with the name of the dog shown, along with “USA” and “FOREVER.” The issue title, “MILITARY WORKING DOGS,” appears only on the large label that serves as the booklet cover if the pane is folded.
“Dozens of dog breeds have served in the U.S. armed forces, but over time the number has decreased significantly,” according to the Postal Service. “Modern military working dogs are predominantly Belgian Malinois, German Shepherds and Dutch Shepherds. Labrador Retrievers are often trained as specialized search dogs.
“Brave and loyal military working dogs are essential members of America’s armed forces. Courageous canines have aided U.S. soldiers in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Today, the 341st Training Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base just outside of San Antonio, Texas, trains American military working dogs and their handlers.”
According to information on the website of the U.S. Air Force’s 37th Training Wing, dogs are trained at the 341st Training Squadron for patrol, drug and explosive detection, and for specialized mission functions for the Department of Defense and other government agencies.
“Personnel conduct operational training of MWD [military working dog] handlers and supervisors and sustain … [the]program through logistical support, veterinary care, and research and development for security efforts worldwide,” the Air Force site reports.
When their service is completed, the dogs are often adopted by their handlers, but some work with civilian law enforcement agencies, while others are adopted by individuals or families among the general public.
The Postal Service has prepared two pictorial first-day cancels for the new Military Working Dogs stamp set. Each postmark shows one of the four dogs in the same pose in which they are depicted on the stamps.
The black postmark features the Belgian Malinois, and the color postmark shows the German shepherd. These postmarks will be used on first-day covers produced and sold by the Postal Service.
Dogs are a popular topic on stamps in the United States and worldwide. A dog is shown at the feet of one of the friars in the vignette of the 1893 30¢ orange-brown Columbus at La Rabida stamp (United States Scott 239).
Another dog is less prominent but still visible sitting with a farmer on a buckboard on the 2¢ copper-red Farming in the West stamp from the 1898 Trans-Mississippi Exposition set (Scott 286).
Eight breeds of dogs are represented on four 20¢ commemorative stamps issued Sept. 7, 1984 (Scott 2098-2101).
More recently, a set of four 65¢ stamps known as Dogs at Work was issued Jan. 20, 2012 (Scott 4604-4607). One of those stamps shows “a military dog scouting and tracking,” according to the Postal Service.
The other three stamps depict a guide dog, a therapy dog and a rescue dog.
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