One of the least known casualties of the 10-year war in Vietnam were the loved and trusted military dogs who served as trackers, sentries, and tunnel detectors, saving countless US soldier’s lives.
Tragically, at the end of the war in 1975, 4,000 of the dogs, mostly German Shepherds and Labradors, were left behind despite efforts by their handlers to have them return to the US. Most of them were euthanized, a policy failure finally corrected in 2000 by a Congressional law requiring all military working dogs suitable for adoption to be available for placement after their service.
Local author Richard LaMotte latched on to this little-known story and felt compelled to write Follow His Lead, a historical fiction novel about the dynamic relationship between a scout dog and his young handler as they face the war’s end and the inevitable euthanization program.
Based on years of research and interviews—and borrowing events from his youth as the son of an Eastern Shore pastor— LaMotte threads his coming-of-age story with familiar Baltimore ingredients. Famed baseball star Brooks Robinson even has a hand in making the story a powerful emotional odyssey.
Lamotte writes in his blog, “All along the way, one primary goal has always been to educate the public on the extraordinary human-animal bond between a military working dog and its handler. In order to make that connection, one must understand the enormous sacrifices made by our troops.”
LaMotte is no stranger to success as a writer. His 2004 book Pure Seaglass: Discovering Nature’s Vanished Gems has sold over 100,000 copies and went on to spur a cottage industry of similar books and launch new interest in the beauty of sea glass.
From advance copies, Follow His Lead has already claimed two Firebird Book Awards and a Pinnacle Book Award.
Richard Lamotte will be holding a book signing at Twigs and Teacups on November 3 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, and a launch party will be held on November 4 from 5:00 to 6:30 at Kent County Alliance Center’s Raimond Center, followed by a signing at the Trippe Gallery in Easton on November 11.
The Spy recently interviewed the author about his new book.
This video is approximately six minutes length.