Dogs of war

I first encountered the slang term “Dogs” in reference to soldiers in the manga series FullMetal Alchemist. In that series, State Alchemists are called “Dogs of the State” by those who can’t stand them.

I liked it. I liked it a lot. But I wondered why it needed to be a derogatory term? What if there was a culture where it was actually taken as a badge of pride, not by the citizens, but by the soldiers themselves? What if that only enhanced their view of themselves as the hunters? I knew it had to exist. And, to some degree, it does.

In World War I, the term “Devil Dogs” was used to honor those who died at The Battle of Belleau Wood in 1918. The media, in reference to their ferocity in battle, called them that (two months before the battle if the newspaper references at Wikipedia are correct), and the Marines kept it because, frankly, it fit. Many men died there, and yet the Germans couldn’t move them. In fact, the Marines were able to win the battle, in spite of heavy losses. (It seems doubtful that the Germans themselves actually used the term.)

In fact, if I understand correctly, it’s joined the terms “leatherneck” and “jarhead” as a general use nickname for a Marine.

Anyway, back to me. (Because it’s always about me, isn’t it?) I decided I liked the term enough to use it for the soldiers in my story. Yes, they enforce the laws, but so did the Roman soldiers and the Dogs in Trial of the Ornic are very much magical soldiers/battle wizards, both in their history, and in their hearts. (I’ve read that the term “dogs” is derogatory slang for the police in many languages in Europe, but I wasn’t able to find any history/confirmation. If anyone can, please let me know. I find that kind of stuff fascinating.)



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