Julbars was a hero of the Great Patriotic war, a fighter of the 14th assault engineer brigade. It was awarded a Medal “For Battle Merit” and had been bestowed the honor of being carried in Joseph Stalin’s jacket across the Red Square in Moscow at the Victory Parade of 1945. It was a legendary explosives dog, an East European Shepherd that had discovered 7468 mines and approximately 150 explosive charges during the period between September 1944 and August 1945 in Hungary, Romania, Austria, Czechoslovakia and other countries. Courage and unerring intuition accompanied the dog during its military service. Julbars also took part in demining important pieces of architecture, such as castles in Prague, cathedrals in Vienna, palaces near Danube, St. Vladimir’s Cathedral and the grave of Taras Shevchenko in Kyiv.
[Wikipedia: The Great Patriotic War is a term used in Russia and other former republics of the Soviet Union (except for the Baltic States, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Ukraine) to describe the conflict fought during the period from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945 along the many fronts of the Eastern Front of World War II between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany and its allies.]
During the Second World War trained dogs actively helped sappers secure the most troublesome and hard to reach objects. During the war nearly 6,000 animals had discovered more than 4 million mines. The objects checked by dogs were considered more safe than the ones thoroughly inspected by people. That’s because the mine detector devices could only detect explosives encased in metal, while dogs could find them no matter what they were encased in, be it plastic, cardboard, wood, etc.
A lot of sapper dogs deserve respect for their heroism, but Julbars was the most famous and respected explosives dog. Julbars was said to have had a unique talent that allowed him to sniff out explosives that were up to two metres (six and a half feet) deep underground.
The explosives dog was trained by the wife of a famous Soviet dog specialist Alexander Mazover, Dina Volkaz, a famous service dog trainer in her own right. After enrolling for military service and obtaining the sub-lieutenant rank in 1941, she was sent into the “Red Star” service dog school. Having received training as a sapper trainer, she was assigned to train dogs to sniff out mines. She selected Julbars to be her personal dog and first trainee. The dog looked ragged and unremarkable, but Dina chose him because of a look in his eyes, she later said. She did not choose poorly, as Julbars later saved not only hundreds civilian lives, but also hundreds of soldiers. Volkaz trained Julbars in all disciplines, but it was extremely proficient in detecting mines.
In early March of 1943, Dina Volkaz and her dog arrived on a mission to the Voronezh air base. It had been assumed that the runways were clear, but a member of the personnel was blown up by a mine a few days before. The air base was considered a strategic object, so people already started looking for mines, but discovering mines that had been set up a year before in frozen ground was not easy. Such difficult task called for a high-class expert — Julbars the explosives dog. The first explosive found was a mine, hidden 12” deep in the ground in a wooden crate, that protected the mine from mine detector devices. It was no match for the dog, though. A mere week after the air base was completely clear of mines. This was Dina’s and Julbars’s first success, with many more to come.
For numerous achievements and completing the 21 of March, 1945 mission, the war hero named Julbars was awarded a Medal “For Battle Merit”. This was a unique case, as it was the only dog that had been awarded a combat medal.
Julbars also took place in the 24 of June, 1945 victory parade, among many other dogs from the “Red Star” service dog training school. Unfortunately, Julbars was not able to walk, as it had been wounded before the war ended and did not recover yet. Major General Grigory Medvedev, the head of the dog school, told this to the man in charge of the parade, Konstantin Rokossovsky, who relayed this to Joseph Stalin. Stalin ordered to have the wounded dog carried across the Red Square in his own jacket. Indeed, Stalin’s jacket arrived to the school, where it was made into an improvised carrier. During the parade, following the soldiers walking with their explosives dogs, the leading dog specialist of the USSR Alexander Mazover carried the four-legged hero named Julbars with pride.
Fortunately the four-legged veteran made his recovery and even became a movie star later on. It played the titular role in “White Fang” (1946), directed by Alexander Zguridi, and based on the Jack London novel of the same name.
Now, Russian sappers use bomb detection dogs in their de-mining effort in Syria.