After Rescuing ‘War Dogs,’ Couple Looks To Build Statue Honoring Dogs From Vietnam War
KAYSVILLE, Utah — When Linda and Jim Crismer made their appearance at the Central Davis Senior Activity Center, it might just have been the hottest ticket in town.
“I spoke at a junior high, it was about 500 kids,” Linda Crismer said, commenting on whether or not she was getting nervous. “I walked out and I was like, ‘Ooh, this is intimidating.'”
The crowd of seniors lined up outside the door, as staff shuffled chairs around, trying to find a place for everyone to sit. But they weren’t really here to see Linda Crismer or her husband Jim Crismer, who sat nearby in a chair, ready to advance their slideshow.
“We’re here today to talk to you about our amazing children, CWD Mazzie and CWD Jeli,” Linda Crismer said to the crowd.
CWD stands for “Contract Working Dog.” The two animals sat on the quietly on the floor, near the couple’s feet.
“Served in Kuwait, they weren’t owned by the United States government,” Linda said. “They were owned by American companies.”
Mazzie in particular didn’t have the easiest time.
“He wanted to stay in his crate all the time, because he was safe. This is what Mazzie looked like when he got home,” Linda said, pointing to a picture being projected on a screen. “He weighed 60 pounds. A young man that we work with who trains dogs told us Mazzie was the most damaged dog he had ever come across in his life.
Not physically damaged — nothing’s been broken on him — but mentally, he was very, very damaged.”
The Crismers have adopted three of these animals, often known as “war dogs.” They worked with a group called “Mission K9 Rescue,” which is dedicated to finding homes for dogs like these. Both Mazzie and Geli worked as narcotics dogs.
“He had been so severely abused that he quit smelling,” Linda said, gesturing towards Mazzie, who now looks completely healthy. “He quit doing his job, and he quit eating. So he was just starving himself to death.”
But the Crismers don’t just want to help the dogs of today — they want to remember those who never had a chance.
“The Vietnam Veterans, who have made our dogs members of their organization, wanted to honor the dogs of Vietnam,” Linda said.
They had the perfect place selected to honor those animals — Layton’s replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Completed in the summer of 2018, it’s a copy of what many refer to as the “Vietnam Wall” in Washington, DC. It stands at 80 percent of the size of the original, listing the names of the 58,317 American service members who died in the war, or were unaccounted for.
Over four thousand dogs served alongside troops in Vietnam — only to be left behind.
“They were considered equipment, and they were left in country,” Linda Crismer said. “Many were euthanized. And those dogs should be recognized and honored and remembered.”
Mazzie is set to be the model for a statue, which will stand near the wall.
“We go to the Vietnam Veterans of America meetings, and they’ve loved Mazzie since they first met him,” Linda said. Somebody threw out the idea, and it caught on, and they’ve asked us to spearhead the fundraising. We found a sculptor, and we’re just waiting until we get enough money to tell Layton City that it’s really going to happen.”
Dogs are credited with saving over ten thousand lives in Vietnam. Although Linda and Jim didn’t serve in Vietnam, they both feel a strong connection to that time, and the sacrifices of those service members and their dogs are something they’ll never forget.
“I get choked up,” Jim Crismer said, reflecting on why Layton’s memorial is so important to him. “I got two friends on one panel down there. I went to high school with them both, and they were both killed the first day of the Tet Offensive.”
And so, the Crismers and their dogs are touring the state — spreading the word, and teaching others, while helping other teach their dogs at the same time.
“If we’re out and you see us with the dogs, please come up and say hi,” Linda said to the crowd of seniors as she ended her presentation. “It helps the dogs learn, especially Mazzie, nobody’s ever going to hurt him again.”
Because a dog may be man’s best friend —but the Crismers believe it’s time for man to return the favor.
“They did not choose to be in war,” Linda said. “Just the luck of the draw, their skills or whatever, they were chosen to do that by somebody else, not by themselves. And that needs to be recognized.”
Mazzie has a Facebook page, under the name CWD Mazzie. If you’d like to contribute to the statue, the Crismers have an account set up at Wells Fargo locations.