Book Review – The Dog Who Could Fly by Damien Lewis

Title: The Dog Who Could Fly – The Incredible True Story of a WWII Airman and the Four-Legged Hero Who Flew At His Side
Author: Damien Lewis
War, History, Biography
My Rating: 5/5

Author’s Input: Airman Robert Bozdech stumbled across the tiny German Shepherd-whom he named Ant-after being shot down on a daring mission over enemy lines. Unable to desert his charge, Robert hid Ant inside his jacket as he escaped. In the months that followed the pair would save each other’s lives countless times as they flew together with RAF Bomber Command over war-torn Germany. Although Ant was eventually grounded due to injury, he refused to abandon his duty, waiting patiently beside the runway for his master’s return from every sortie, and refusing food and sleep until they were reunited. By the end of the war, Robert and Ant had become great British war heroes, and Ant was awarded the Dickin Medal, the “Animal Victoria Cross,” for his gallantry.


Brief History of Dogs Used in Conflict

One thing that I don’t think my readers know about me is that I have an undying passion for war history and the roles dogs have played since the beginning of time. Dogs have been used for many purposes depending on the conflicts. During WWI the dogs were equipped with medical kits and were responsible to actively seek out the wounded to provide medics on the battlefield a quicker and safer system. They were nicknamed “ambulance dogs”.

In WWII the Germans perfected “courier dogs”, who were trained in carrying small written messages that relayed messages into areas that lacked communications equipment. The carrier pigeons of the ground.

Source WWII Courier Dogs

During Vietnam, US Special Forces started using dual-purpose canines.  The best dogs for detecting enemy movement as well as attacking the enemy, are shepherds. The most common during the time were German Shepherds. They actively sought out sentries and booby traps alerting handlers of enemy movement while attacking enemy fighters.

The dogs US Special Operations Forces (SOF) use today are the best in the world. The larger Army and Marine units use single purpose dogs, but sometimes have dual-purpose attached. Single purpose dogs only do one job, whether it be detecting explosives, search & rescue, etc. Dual Purpose for example: detect explosives, attack combatants, and other specialties that are needed for the mission.

The dogs attached to US SOF are Belgian Malinois, German Shepherds and Dutch Shepherds known for their athleticism, loyalty, aggressiveness, and determination. The roles of the modern day war dog continue to expand and improve. They jump out of airplanes attached to their handlers, swim across rivers, detect explosives, are the first in a room filled with combatants, and have saved countless lives.

After all of these impressive feats, I’ve only heard of one dog who has ever flew at the feet of his owner on combat missions. This dog is the legendary Antis or Ant for short.

My Thoughts

I hear war stories all the time of the most gallantry acts of heroism from different countries and units all around the world. Yet there are few and far between the number of books about the courageous acts of war dogs compared to their human counterparts. This book highlighted the bond between humans and their beloved canine partners while in conflict and the bonds they formed as friends. How Robert was able to rely on Antis was just as impactful as it was for Antis relying on Robert.

Robert relied on Ant’s loyalty and easy going “this is going to fine” presence to guide him past some of the troubles he’s faced emotionally due to the war. Antis was able to keep Robert’s morale high despite the circumstances of losing friends in battle, being fearful he won’t make it back alive, and being that furry friend we all count on when we are feeling down.

I can count on one hand the number of books that made me cry while reading whether it was in the middle or at the end. I’ve never had a dog. But every chance I get I try to spend as much time as I can with them. That bond and love they have for their owners is bar none. Now imagine that bond on steroids for going through a situation together as awful and heavy with emotional effects that comes with war.

I hope to have a dog one day as badass and loyal as Antis, and when the day comes of me going to pickup my Dutch Shepherd, I will be thinking about the legendary story of Antis, the dog who could fly!




7 thoughts on “Book Review – The Dog Who Could Fly by Damien Lewis

  1. I went to visit the War Animals memorial in London and this post made me think of it. So many animals that did so much, and not for glory or recognition but just to make their handlers happy. I might pick up this book, although I feel like it will make me sad! Will it make me sad?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s awesome! I think this book will bring back the appreciation you’ve seen at the memorial and surprise you. It’s a great book and made me feel a lot of different emotions. When books do that, they get my seal of approval.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review! I’m a dog lover, and I’ve had dogs all my life. Cats, too. I’m always moved by stories involving heroic dogs because there is something so deep and heartrending about the loyalty and love that a dog has for his person. No human relationships can ever compare–we could learn a lot from dogs.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. […] One badass dog in particular wasn’t even trained to be a military dog. He was more of a morale support role and a kickass friend. In WWII, Ant flew combat missions with his handler. Not physically flying using the controls and hand paw signals, that would be legendary, but lying at his Dad’s feet co-pilot style – Book Review – The Dog Who Could Fly by Damien Lewis […]


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