November 30, 2012

Animal Sacrifice

What animals sacrifice for us, and what we sacrifice for them. Including a story from Susan Orlean about dogs in World War II, and the This American Life staff confronts Ira about his dog, Piney.

Dog wearing suicide bomb vest, 1943.


Ira admits there is a question he’s wanted to know the answer to since he was a kid in Hebrew school: Why is it that Jews don’t sacrifice animals anymore? Especially since the Old Testament is so clear that God wants it? Ira talks to religious studies scholar Jonathan Klawans to find out. Jonathan is the author of a book covering this subject, Purity, Sacrifice and the Temple. (5 minutes)

Semper Fido

Susan Orlean tells us about the moment America asked untrained household canines to make the ultimate sacrifice: to serve in World War II. Susan talks to Gina Snyder, who remembers being a teenager when her dog Tommy joined the service. And Susan digs into the national archives to learn the fate of other dogs that fought on the front lines. A version of this story appears in Susan’s book Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend. (20 minutes)

Videos: Watch this military dog use training video, and a War Department Film Bulletin, called "Use of War Dogs." (No sound on that second one.)