5-minute listening: France honours hero dogs with memorial at Suippes, site of many major WWI battles

  • Practise your English with our short listening exercises: play the audio linked below; answer the questions; and check the answers at the bottom of the page
  • Learn about a new monument to the brave canines who served in the military and saved lives
Doris Wai |

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A French soldier stands at attention with his dog Olaf in Suippes, France at the inauguration of a memorial for the country’s civilian and military hero dogs. Photo: AP


1. Which groups of people have worked closely with dogs, according to the beginning of the podcast?

A. police officers

B. members of the military

C. rescue teams

D. all of the above

2. To whom was the memorial dedicated?

A. soldiers who sacrificed their lives during World War I

B. a French-Colombian artist

C. dogs with distinguished contributions

D. all canines in France

3. What does the “placement” in the podcast refer to?

A. the particular spot where the sculpture was erected

B. the role dogs played during major wars

C. a sacred place where hero dogs are buried

D. a secret military spot in France

4. What is the purpose of a “military kennel”?

A. to train dogs for military duty

B. to breed dogs with a particular trait

C. to take in abandoned dogs

D. to provide medical help for injured dogs

5. How many dogs are currently at the military kennel in Suippes?

A. 132

B. 550

C. 650

D. information not given

6. Which word can replace “homage” in the podcast?

A. loyalty

B. worship

C. tribute

D. duty

7. What were the animals wearing when they attended the ceremony?

A. uniforms

B. military medals

C. special collars

D. sunglasses

8. What dog breed is Johann’s military canine companion?

A. Nasky

B. Husky

C. Dutch shepherd

D. German shepherd

9. What are the dogs in Suippes trained to do?

A. detect explosives

B. sniff out potential enemies

C. identify drugs

D. all of the above

10. How many dog(s) are assigned to each soldier at Suippes?

A. one

B. two

C. four

D. six

11. According to the podcast, how old are most of the dogs when they enter the military kennel?

A. eight days old

B. 18 days old

C. eight months old

D. 18 months old

12. What is one test the dogs have to pass before they are selected?

A. an intelligence test

B. a stress test

C. a barking test

D. a stair anxiety test

13. A “handler” is someone who is …

A. no longer working

B. serving in the army

C. in charge of an animal

D. an expert at raising animals for breeding purposes

14. What did France’s first batch of “active duty” dogs do?

A. carried food and supplies

B. warned about incoming attacks

C. searched for injured soldiers

D. all of the above

15. According to the podcast, which other country has also awarded dogs for their bravery?

A. Ukraine

B. Russia

C. China

D. Thailand

Dogs have helped French soldiers, police officers and rescue teams save lives for more than a century. Photo: AP


1. D

2. C

3. A

4. A

5. B

6. C

7. B

8. C

9. D

10. A

11. D

12. B

13. C

14. D

15. A


Voice 1: From tracking down suspects in the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks to fighting extremists in Africa’s Sahel region, dogs have helped French soldiers, police officers, and rescue teams save lives for more than a century.

Voice 2: In recognition of its four-pawed partners, France last month inaugurated a memorial paying tribute to all “civilian and military hero dogs”. It features a sculpture by French-Colombian artist Milthon depicting a World War I soldier and his dog huddled together.

Voice 1: The monument is located in front of the town hall in Suippes, an area of northeast France that saw major battles during World War I. The placement acknowledges the important role dogs played in US and European armies at the time. Suippes is also home to the largest military kennel in Europe, where members of the French army’s 132nd canine infantry regiment train dogs for military duty. The regiment currently consists of 650 army personnel and 550 dogs.

Voice 2: The monument in homage to hero dogs was an initiative of the French kennel club, the Centrale Canine. Animals from the army regiment attended the monument’s inauguration ceremony wearing their military medals.

Voice 1: According to Johann, a military officer in a combat unit, the ceremony was very important because dogs, like human beings, carry out missions. Johann, who has been a member of the regiment for 12 years, is now paired with a Dutch shepherd named Nasky.

Voice 2: The regiment in Suippes prepares dogs for combat zones, teaching them how to sniff out and chase a potential enemy. Some are also trained to detect explosives and drugs. Each dog is paired with a soldier.

Voice 1: The regiment’s recruits are involved in French operations abroad, including in Africa’s Sahel region, West Africa, and the Middle East. They also are sent on domestic missions and to work in French territories overseas, such as combating gold trafficking in French Guiana.

Voice 2: Sometimes, the dogs selected for training are recruited when they are puppies, but most are 18 months old. Many come from France, but others come from the Netherlands, Germany, and countries in eastern Europe.

Voice 1: The dogs go through a series of tests to see whether they bite, are willing to play, and if they are easily startled in a stressful environment. However, the most important quality a dog needs is bravery.

Voice 2: When they can no longer fulfil their missions, the dogs get to retire. Audrey, one member of the canine unit, plans to keep her partner, Moocki, with her at home when the time comes, saying that handlers are in the best position to choose families for the retired dogs.

Voice 1: France created its first department to train dogs for active duty during World War I. They searched for wounded soldiers, stood watch for the enemy and carried messages, food and ammunition on the front lines of the 1914-1918 war.

Voice 2: Other nations have also recognised the wartime contributions of dogs. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky awarded a medal to a Jack Russell terrier named Patron that sniffed for mines after Russia invaded Ukraine. Patron later received a visit from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who praised him as “world famous”.

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