By Randi Barrow
The characters in this book are fictional, but the facts about the war are true.
After WWII, the Russian government wanted a military dog kennel to breed a new Russian 'Super Dog' to replace all of the dogs killed in Russia.
In the war, the Soviet Union tried to teach dogs to place bombs under tanks and armed vehicles. The dogs pulled a belt to remove a bomb strapped to their backs. When Russia released the dogs onto the war field, the dogs were confused, and ran back to their trainer during the battle. The bomb would go off, killing both the operator and the animal.
After this tactic failed, they starved dogs, and once again tried to teach the dog to run under the tanks. This time, they placed meat under the target. Each dog had a 22 to 26 pound mine carried in two cloth bags adjusted to fit each dog. The mine had a safety pin that was removed right before the dogs were released. A wooden lever came out of one of the pouches that was about 20 centimeters long. When the dog went under the tank, the lever hit the bottom of the tank and detonated the bomb.
After WWII, owning anything German was considered bad, or even traitorous. German Shepherds were commonly shot on sight, even if they were doing nothing wrong. For that reason, it was dangerous to own a German Shepherd after WWII ended. That is one of the reasons for keeping Zasha a secret in this story.
Barrow, Randi G. Saving Zasha. New York: Scholastic, 2011. Print.
"Anti-tank Dog." - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Dec. 2014.