An RAF police dog demonstration, circus skills and a realistic caving experience were just some of the fun attractions on offer at this year's Stickney summer festival held at William Lovell Academy.
Read more: http://www.bostontarget.co.uk/pictures/Stickney-Summer-Festival-picture-gallery/pictures-27448471-detail/pictures.html#ixzz3ghaQSE9h
It is with great sadness that last night Buster passed peacefully away. He served his country. He served in three separate wars. Including Afghanistan. He won the Crufts friends for Life Award in 2012. Buster was the mascot of the RAF Police. And was a true character. He retired a military hero 2011. You are at peace now......at Rainbow Bridge. ....and thoughts to his handler Flight Sergeant 'Will' Barrow who also cared for him in his retirement.
Buster the Dog Who Saved a Thousand Lives, Passes Away
17 July 2015
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Buster, the Dog Who Saved a Thousand Lives, Passes Away
It is with great sadness that Flight Sergeant Will Barrow from the RAF Police announces the death of his retired Arms and Explosive Search Dog, Buster.
Buster, a 13 year old Springer Spaniel passed away at the Barrow’s home in Lincolnshire where he had been enjoying retirement with handler Will, plus two canine companions.
Buster completed five tours of duty in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Iraq and it was his exceptional efforts in these austere environments for which he will be remembered. It was the saving of countless lives by searching out IEDs that saw the honour of official lifetime mascot of the RAF Police bestowed upon Buster.
Flight Sergeant Barrow documented his experiences with Buster into a best-selling book and as recently as this week, the inseparable pair were out promoting Buster’s service endeavours at a local school where they’d been invited to hand out end of year reports to the children.
The RAF Police are arranging a special event to celebrate RAF Police Military Working Dogs which will give the Force an opportunity to remember those special companions that have saved thousands of lives and served so admirably. Details will follow.
RIP Buster: The sniffer dog 'who saved a thousand lives'
As an Arms and Explosive Search Dog, Buster is said to have saved "a thousand lives" in warzones around the world.
The springer spaniel has passed away at his handler's home in Lincolnshire, says
Before retiring to live with Flight Sergeant Will Barrow, the 13-year-old dog had served in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Iraq - sniffing out bombs and booby traps before they could kill British service personnel.
He's said to have completed more tours than any other military dog.
As well as giving advanced warning of suicide bombers and hidden IEDs (improvised explosive devices), Buster also helped cheer up the troops, says his handler.
"Many's the time I'd find some of the soldiers on the cot beds with him, just chatting away. They felt they could confide in him and it wouldn't be going anywhere else."
He also made friends with local Afghans when he went out on patrol.
"We soon had a long train of children in tow - like a canine Pied Piper, Buster drew in his crowd and entertained them," says Flt Sgt Barrow.
To reward his years of hard work, Buster was given the honour of becoming the official lifetime mascot of the RAF Police.
Towards the end of his life Buster had quite bad arthritis in his legs, and Flt Sgt Barrow thinks the dog might also have suffered the same mental strains as human combat veterans. He suspects Buster could even have had a form of post traumatic stress from all his time spent under enemy fire.
In retirement Buster didn't "like fireworks or thunder, but at the time, he just got on with it, same as all of us".
Many tributes have been paid to Buster on
But the final word should go to Flt Sgt Barrow.
"He saved my life every day we were together. I owe him so much."
Success for RAF Brize Norton at police dog trials
Saturday, July 11th 2015 08:00
Corporal Oli Griggs and Air Dog Ethel came runners-up
The first RAF Police Dog Trials in five years were held at the Royal Air Force College Cranwell in Lincolnshire this week.
The competition's been put on hold in recent years due to operational commitments.
RAF Police Military Working Dogs and their handlers from across the UK fought it out to be 'top dog' in front of the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford.
The trials follow months of evaluations by the Provost Marshal’s Dog Inspectors, with only 12 patrol dogs and their handlers making the grade to compete at these national finals.
Flight Sergeant Steven Hancox, Provost Marshal Dog Inspector, led those: "This year is particularly special as we haven’t had the trials for a long time.
"It takes a lot of hard work to be selected to compete, so this event means an awful lot to everyone taking part. To win it is truly special."
RAF Brize Norton took two of these slots with Corporals Robert Horsfall and Oli Griggs.
Having performed earlier in the year at Crufts, Corporal Griggs and his pooch, Air Dog Ethel, were used to performing in front of crowds.
Three days worth of heats saw the dogs and their handlers put through their paces in three different disciplines - wind scent exercises, obedience and obstacles plus criminal workouts.
Competitors were whittled down to five for the final.
In the end, it was Corporal Stacey Graham and Air Dog Demon, from RAF Coningsby, who took the coveted top spot as champions.
Corporal Oli Griggs from RAF Brize Norton was runner-up with Air Dog Ethel.
They also scooped the award for the best criminal workout with Ethel displaying some powerful manoeuvres in the arena.
Corporal Griggs said: "I’m absolutely chuffed and over the moon, I couldn’t really have asked for better.
"She performed absolutely amazingly today, unfortunately the heat got to her in the arena but her criminal workout was flawless, absolutely flawless – she was so good."
Corporal Sam Plant from RAF Waddington took third place.
07 July 2015
In the heat of the Lincolnshire sun, RAF Police Military Working Dogs and their handlers from across the UK have been fighting it out to determine who is ‘top dog’.
Royal Air Force College Cranwell provided the prestigious backdrop for the Military Working Dog Trials, an event that has not taken place for five years due to operational commitments. With an audience that included the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford, the pressure was certainly on for the competitors.
The trials are the culmination of months of technical evaluation carried out across the UK by the Provost Marshal’s Dog Inspectors, with only 12 patrol dogs and their handlers making the grade to compete at these national finals.
Flight Sergeant Steven Hancox, Provost Marshal Dog Inspector, has been up and down the country since February leading the technical evaluations, he said: “This year is particularly special as we haven’t had the trials for a long time. It takes a lot of hard work to be selected to compete, so this event means an awful lot to everyone taking part. To win it is truly special.”
Three days worth of heats saw the dogs and their handlers put through their paces in three different disciplines - wind scent exercises, obedience and obstacles plus criminal workouts. The outcome of these heats whittled the 12 competitors down to five for the final.
In the arena, each pair set aside their nerves and exemplified the special bond that a dog and its handler shares and spectators were left in no doubt of their professionalism.
Following the months of preparation and the pressure of the finals, it was Corporal Stacey Graham and Air Dog Demon, stationed at RAF Coningsby, who took the coveted top spot as champions. Corporal Oli Griggs from RAF Brize Norton was runner-up with Corporal Sam Plant from RAF Waddington taking third place.
A clearly delighted Corporal Graham said: “It feels fantastic! Being UK Champion is literally the one thing I’ve wanted since being on dogs – I’m really happy. I just burst out crying when my name was called and I heard all the cheers. I was massively overwhelmed - I still am!”
The RAF Police took the opportunity to present a host of other military working dog related trophies at the awards ceremony. The recipients of these awards were identified by the Provost Marshal Dog Inspectors through stringent assessment over the past year.
The Lady Kemball Trophy, for the top Arms and Explosives or Drug Detection Team was awarded to Corporal David Hoy and Air Dog Shane, based at RAFC Cranwell.
The Drissell Trophy, for the Best Police Dog Team was awarded to Corporal Shaun Perkes and Air Dog Tacko, from RAF Brize Norton.
The Vehicle Search Trophy was awarded to Corporal Emma Blackburn and Air Dog Burty, stationed at RAF Marham.
The Prestige Trophy, for the best UK Dog Section was awarded to RAF Northolt for the second year running.
The Tosh Thomas Trophy, for the Most Outstanding Contribution of the Year went to RAF St Mawgan’s Dog Section – Corporal Tim Cayless.
With his closing remarks, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford said “My one question is why has it been five years since the last dog trails? Please don’t leave it so long next time!”
Editor: Sal Davidson
A Judge Watches Closely.
Cpl Dean Dixon and Baco.
The Country’s Top 3. L-R – Cpl Oli Griggs with Ethel, Cpl Stacey Graham with Demon and Cpl Sam Plant with Resi.
The Champions – Cpl Stacey Graham and Demon.
© MOD Crown Copyright 2015
GRRRRRrreat result! Congratulations to RAF Coningsby Police Dog Handler Cpl Stacey Graham and her dog Demon. They were the overall winners at the recent RAF Dog Trials - a first for RAF Coningsby. Well Done!
LONDON 21 April 2015 – The trustees of the Soldiering On Through Life Trust are pleased to announce retired RAF police dog Memphis as the winner of the in the category of Canine Partner. 2015 Soldiering On Award
Nominated by the RAF Benevolent Fund, Memphis was on patrol in Afghanistan in 2011 searching for improvised explosive devices (IEDs) when he momentarily left the side of RAF Police dog handler Corporal Mick McConnell. At that moment, McConnell stepped on an IED. Even though it only partially exploded, it caused irreversible damage.
Despite almost two years of rehabilitation, McConnell is still on medication and, last year, took the decision to have his foot amputated. Once Memphis, a Columber cocker cross, retired from duty, McConnell decided to adopt him. Memphis has been instrumental in helping him cope with losing part of his leg.
"Having Memphis in Afghanistan gave me the confidence to operate in hostile conditions and combat situations. Most importantly Memphis saved lives and allowed the troops we were attached to to move safely and quickly, thus commanding the ground and helping the local populace to live their lives in safety and with freedom.
"Memphis is the reason that I get out of bed in the morning, he is a reason I get out of the house and do not hide myself away – which would be so easy to do. He brings me out of my dark places and reminds me that I need to live and not let life grind me down.
"He gave me confidence to put one foot in front of the other in Afghanistan and now gives me comfort and confidence to get out and about. He also makes me smile every day!"
Memphis was recognised at the held Saturday 18th April at the Park Plaza Westminster in London. 2015 Soldiering On Awards
Soldiering On Through Life Trust is a not-for-profit organisation that supports injured Service personnel and their families throughout their lives. It recognises the inspirational and outstanding achievements of teams or individuals through an annual awards ceremony: The Soldiering On Awards: One Awards Ceremony for the Whole Armed Forces Community.
It’s the Lead - Up to Crufts for the RAF Police Dogs (Royal Air Force)
The RAF Police Military Working Dog Display Team is busy putting the finishing touches to their showcase performance for Crufts at the NEC Birmingham on the 7th and 8th March.
The first Crufts was in 1871, so it's a show not only steeped in history, but it's grown into one of the largest in the world, so the pressure will certainly be on.
A bitterly cold RAF Waddington provided the backdrop to the intense rehearsal schedule for these willing volunteers who successful passed a stringent selection process to make the final team. With performances in the main arena on Saturday and Sunday in front of a crowd of up to 5000, the RAF Police handlers and their trusted companions are spending hours together to create a crowd-pleasing show that will demonstrate their capabilities and professionalism.
Team Manager, Flight Sergeant Steven Hancox, has a long history with Crufts and first performed there in 1991. He has developed the 2015 display and says:
"As the team are all volunteers, I set some parameters about what I'd like to see and asked them to go off and do their homework and come back and show me exactly what they could do."
The handlers are faced with mastering a marching technique designed specifically for these demonstrations for the safety of their dogs and similarly, the dogs are challenged with learning to work together. This year also sees the team return to wearing full No 1 uniform, something not seen at Crufts for a few years. Flight Sergeant Hancox continues:
"There's been lots of work individually and it's only in the last few days before the show that we all come together to complete the final product. It's hard work, yet we're all enjoying the challenge."
With the on station preparations complete, the full dress rehearsal is in the arena itself. The silence of the empty venue is broken only by the hustle and bustle of the show's technical crew. The team takes to the ring knowing that in a few days time, it will be filled with thousands of spectators, plus numerous TV cameras. Crufts differs greatly from the other shows the RAF Police Dogs undertake throughout the year as the audience has a large proportion of experts assessing their every move, so there is a palpable apprehension as this final rehearsal gets underway.
Sergeant Andy Ackers, based at RAF Cranwell, is Team Leader and a veteran of dog displays; he's partnered with yellow Labrador, Gabby, an Arms and Explosive Search Dog. He gives the whistle instructions during performance and shares his experiences with his team members to reassure them, saying:
"The main thing is to enjoy it. It is nerve-racking but those nerves are good to ensure you concentrate and avoid being blasé. Once you finish a demonstration like this, it's a great feeling and you just can't wait to do it all again!"
Over the course of the show and away from the main arena, the general public has ample opportunity to interact with members of the team and talk about the role of the RAF Police and the life these special partners share.
The commentator for the display is Flight Sergeant Stephen Penman and he sums up his thoughts on Crufts, saying:
"This is a great team and I'm really lucky to work with people like this every day. For me, this type of high profile event gives the RAF Police an opportunity to engage with the public and explain about the work we do with the dogs, both in the UK and overseas. I can't wait to get started now!"
Coverage of Crufts can be seen on Channel 4 and More4 thorough the course of the weekend.
Editor: Sal Davidson
Photographs: Mr Gordon Elias / SAC Clarke
Royal Air Force Police (RAFP) Dog handlers prepair for thier demonstaration at this years Crufts event.
Sgt Walker and Nora.
RAF Police Dog handlers from RAF Waddington, Cranwell and St Mawgan.
Cpl Palmer and Nelly.
Cpl Wilson and Resi.
RAF/MOD Crown Copyright 2015
- See more at: http://www.noodls.com/view/868BDFCC701F073BE8FE1DD4514987355942D130?916xxx1425640362#sthash.oRi9B3hb.dpuf Book review: Buster by Will Barrow and Isabel George
Most dogs are special to their owners, but here’s a dog that is extra special.
Beautiful brown and white springer spaniel Buster is a military hero… he has a nose for danger, a heart of pure gold and during active service with the RAF, he saved thousands of lives.
Described by his many admiring ‘colleagues’ as a best friend in dog’s clothing and ‘a real person trapped in a fur coat,’ Buster served in three separate wars in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, an unparalleled achievement for a military dog.
He retired in 2010 and the following year he was showered with tributes and won the Crufts Friends for Life Award and a nomination for the prestigious Sun Military Award. Buster is also the official lifetime mascot of the RAF Police.
Throughout his long and perilous career, Buster had several handlers but there was one man with whom he built up a mutually adoring relationship – RAF Police Flight Sergeant Michael ‘Will’ Barrow.
Buster, who saw Will through some of his darkest hours in Afghanistan, ‘the most dangerous place on God’s earth,’ now has a permanent home with the RAF serviceman and his family in Lincoln.
Their partnership under fire produced some heroic feats in the dust and desert heat of Afghanistan – and beyond – and now Will’s amazing and moving story of enduring loyalty and a life-saving friendship has been told to Isabel George.
‘With some dogs you share a boil in the bag breakfast and maybe a blanket on a cold desert floor… but, if you’re very, very lucky there will be the one dog you would lay down your life for – and for me that dog is Buster,’ he reveals in a book that will have readers gasping in awe one minute and wiping away a tear in the next.
This inspirational man-dog friendship began in 2007 after Will completed a course as an Arms and Explosives Search (AES) dog handler and was introduced to his new partner, three-year-old Buster who had already completed two tours of Bosnia with two different handlers.
It was an emotional moment for Buster’s previous handler who had the heartbreak of seeing his special dog disappearing off with someone else. ‘It’s like seeing your wife with another bloke!’ jokes Will.
It was tough for Buster too but this dog was a military ‘professional’ … after giving his new ‘master’ a very cool once-over and enjoying a bit of bribery (dog treats), he was the happy, bouncy, proud and confident dog that had already marked him out as the perfect search dog.
Will knew that this tour of duty in war-torn Afghanistan was ‘going to be like nothing else ever’ and he would need a dog that not just coped, but thrived. Buster was that dog, wise beyond his years and a cut above any animal he had worked with before.
Buster got to know Will better than Will knew himself, he was his ‘hairy comfort blanket,’ his closest companion with whom he witnessed Taliban ambushes, dodged bullets, carried out dangerous night searches and endured terrifying rides in the sweaty belly of lumbering Viking tanks.
When their tour of duty ended, the two friends returned home but within a few months Buster was back on duty with a new handler in Afghanistan because another search dog had failed its licensing.
But it wasn’t the end of their partnership… the two were reunited and in 2009 Buster became the last British Military Working Dog to leave Iraq. A year later, he officially became a permanent member of the Barrow household.
The two are still the best of friends, a relationship built on trust and loyalty. Throughout the danger, the heat, the discomfort, the fear, Will Barrow says that he knew that if he died, whether it was that day or that night, he would not be alone – his best pal would be watching over him.
An emotional and uplifting story about a dog in a million.
(Virgin Books, hardback, £9.99)
'Buster saved my life every day we were together’
Flight Sergeant Will Barrow was crouched low, his heart pounding, in the belly of a Viking armoured vehicle under intense Taliban gunfire, when a clear and sudden understanding of his own mortality came to him.
But he had one immediate comfort: “I knew that if I died tonight, I would not be alone, because my best pal would be watching over me.”
It was at moments like this, as the bullets flew, that Sgt Barrow realised the true value of Buster, the trusty springer spaniel whose job was to protect the troops fighting the bloody war in Afghanistan.
Buster is no ordinary animal but a highly trained arms and explosives detection dog with five military campaign medals to his name, who has saved a thousand lives in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.
And to Sgt Barrow, his handler, he was also a best friend during times of terror.
RAF Police Sergeant Barrow, a career security forces man, is no softie. Almost 6ft tall, with rugged features and the steely core of a military professional, he has also served in Bosnia, Iraq, the Falkland Islands and Northern Ireland.
But as Buster saved him and his colleagues time and again from deadly explosives, an enduring bond developed between the pair.
Their friendship dates back to their Afghanistan tour. It was 2007 and Buster had been deployed with Sgt Barrow to serve in the desert and poppy fields of Helmand and the slums of Lashkar Gah.
It was a treacherous point in the war, when roadside bombs – improvised explosive devices, or IEDS – and suicide missions were commonplace and the body count of British soldiers was rapidly climbing.
Conditions in the troops’ desert camp were basic: food consisted of boil-in-the-bag ration packs, the “mozzipods” they slept in were cramped, and sand permeated everything.
But for Sgt Barrow, 48, at least there was Buster.
In the book he has written as a tribute to their partnership, he recalls the dog’s greatest triumph: a house raid in which he tracked down suicide vests primed for detonation. Two bomb-makers and two teenage would-be bombers were arrested as a result.
But Buster’s ability to track Taliban insurgents and sniff out bombs were just one aspect of his armoury.
Sgt Barrow recounts how Buster became a diplomatic tool, too: “As we searched and chatted to the locals, we soon had a long train of children in tow – like a canine Pied Piper, Buster drew in his crowd and entertained them,” he writes. “Anyone looking on would have wondered how on earth a spaniel from the UK could do so much for the 'hearts and minds’ operation.”
He was, moreover, a model of calmness in terrifying situations, taking his handler’s mind off the immediate risks to himself.
“My main concern was always the little fella, because if he had been injured, my role was non-existent,” he says. “As much as I relied on him not to walk us into IEDs, he needed me to feed and water him.”
He was also an invaluable comfort, emotionally, to both his handler and his comrades.
Sgt Barrow writes of one evening after coming under insurgent fire: “I was missing home and [my wife] Tracy but when he settled on my chest, I curled my arms around him. I needed to talk about the bad day at work, and this time Buster was the one listening.”
At times, Sgt Barrow’s tale reads almost like a love story: the separations – when the serviceman flies home on leave and the springer spaniel is quarantined – are poignant, with the spaniel gazing forlornly after his handler as the latter walks away.
Their joint tour of duty in Afghanistan over in 2008, Buster went on to do four more months in Iraq in 2009. Then Buster found a home with Sgt Barrow in Lincoln.
He retired in 2011, aged seven, and a stream of honours followed. He was made the RAF Police’s lifetime mascot – unprecedented for any dog – and he has received more requests for television appearances than many human war heroes.
Sgt Barrow, meanwhile, went on to become head of police at RAF Henlow. Looking back at his tours with Buster, he is phlegmatic about the life-or-death situations he faced.
“I don’t think we see it the same way as civilians do,” he says. “We deal with it, and just get on with things.”
Nor does he talk much about the horrors of war. “You don’t want to dwell on those sorts of things. It could tip you over the edge a bit.”
But whatever hardships life throws at him, Buster remains by his side.
“We made a pact from the start to look after each other, and Buster has stayed true to our bargain,” he writes. “He saved my life every day we were together. I owe him so much that I can never repay the debt, even if we lived for ever.”
'Buster: The Dog Who Saved a Thousand Lives’ by RAF Police Sergeant Will Barrow and Isabel George, is published by Virgin Books at £9.99. To order a copy, call 0844 871 1514 or visit books.telegraph.co.uk
From Thursday 29 th January make sure you are one of the first to get your paws, or even your hands on a copy of the new book, ‘Buster’, the Royal Air Force Dog who ‘ saved a thousand lives’.
Going on sale today, ‘Buster’ tells the fascinating story of a very brave English Springer spaniel who alongside his handler, RAF Police Flight Sergeant Michael ‘Will’Barrow’, braved bombs and bullets to help save the lives of thousands of troops.
Regularly patrolling through the poppy fields of Afghanistan, Buster would assist his comrades by tracking Taliban insurgents and sniffing out bombs that were regularly left behind for British and American troops.
An arms and explosive sniffer dog, Buster completed five operational tours of Afghanistan and earned a row of medals for his service which also included operational tours in Bosnia and Iraq.
Now, the heroic dog is more used to strolling through leafy Lincolnshire as he enjoys his retirement with his equally faithful friend and handler, Sgt Will Barrow:
“If you’re very, very lucky there will be the one dog you would lay down your life for, and for me that dog is Buster. You can have an almost telepathic bond with your dog and Buster and I developed that very, very quickly.”
In every aspect of the word, Buster, now 12, truly is man’s best friend and enjoys spending time at home alongside Will’s 2 other dogs, German Shepherd Daggo and his other spaniel, ‘Little Buster’, named in honour of Buster.
Now in charge of the RAF Police section at RAF Henlow, Will misses working with dogs, so has trained Little Buster at home to search: “if you want turmeric or herbs, he’s your man!”
Daily Express 24/1/15
Meet the war hero dog who saved 1,000 lives
STREWN with cuddly toys, balls and squeaky playthings, RAF police sergeant Will Barrow tells me that the lounge of his Lincoln home looks like the proverbial bombsite.
Buster is the most decorated military dog
It is an ironic description given that one of the three canine culprits of the mess is his now retired RAF police dog Buster.
The 12-yearold springer spaniel completed five tours of duty in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Iraq, leading him to national stardom as the most decorated military dog.
“You hear people say that they would died for their friends but I don’t know many who’d actually do so. But Buster would,” says Will, 48, who is separated and has two other dogs.
He is based at RAF Henlow in Bedfordshire. The pair formed their special bond in 2007 when, in need of a dog to accompany him on a tour in the Middle East, Will called fellow RAF dog handler Corporal Nick Lyons and asked if he could recommend one.
“I was being deployed to Afghanistan and there is a certain type of dog required for that,” Will explains.
“The desert terrain, the heat and the fact it was a war zone required a dog with loads of drive, an exceptional nose and battle experience.
A search dog without drive is about as useful as a car without an engine.
It is a select few who have what it takes.”
Corporal Lyons immediately suggested his own working dog Buster, who was three years old at the time and had two tours of Bosnia under his belt.
“All handlers think their dog is the best but I could tell that Nick was not just proud of his dog and in awe of his skills in the field but he liked him too – like a mate,” Will reveals.
“When you find a dog that is special, letting go is like the heartbreak of seeing your wife with another bloke.
Buster and RAF RAF police sergeant in action
Before I left him I took Buster to a field for a really good run. He automatically checked it for explosives.
RAF police sergeant Will Barrow
I could see that Nick was a bit choked when he handed Buster over to me and I know how that feels.
I’ve had to say goodbye to several working dogs in my career and it is easier with some than others.”
Buster was an arms and explosives search (AES) dog and his reward for a “find” such as ammunition or grenades was always a tennis ball to play with, food doesn’t come into any part of military dog training or work.
“One thing that made me laugh from the start was Buster’s ‘indication’ – how he told me and the rest of the team that he had located a ‘find’ such as some weapons,” Will continues.
“Most dogs trained for this work will sit or stand to indicate but Buster performed a little jig with his front paws and growled.
“But the hugely serious side to Buster’s little dance was that when he did it there was no doubt there was a weapon or explosives under his nose.
With Buster there was no mistake.” The pair did five weeks of training together before leaving for Afghanistan. “I’ve actually had better search dogs – a drugs detection dog called
Guy, who was phenomenal, and a dog in Bosnia who produced find after find – but then there were a lot of weapons to be found there,” adds Will, who joined the Air Cadets when he was 13.
Although his heart was set on being a pilot, after seeing a careers video featuring RAF police dogs he knew he wanted to be a dog handler.
Will’s instant rapport with Buster was cemented during many heart stopping moments in Afghanistan.
“It was more of a combat war then.
There wasn’t the massive threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that was to become so deadly later on.
But there were frightening times, the worst ones being on the Jalalabad Road in Kabul.
At the time it was the most bombed road in the world and rife with suicide bombers.
Every time Buster stopped and sniffed at something my heart was in my mouth.
It was winter and there was snow on the ground but I would come off those searches sweating.
“Then there was a joint operation with the Afghan police and Afghan national army to raid a house thought to be the base for a team of suicide bombers.
After we entered the house Buster’s body language changed and I knew he had a smell of something.
My heart was in my mouth as he moved towards a door at the back of the room.
“But the Afghans ignored our instruction to stay back while we went in and made it safe – they stormed in and came out triumphantly holding up the vests, which were primed and ready to be detonated. It was terrifying.
“In the end it was a complete success as we arrested two would-be suicide bombers, both 15-year-old boys, plus the bomb makers.
“Another scary moment was when Buster and I were in a convoy of eight armoured Land Rovers crossing a wadi and four of them got stuck.
As darkness fell we could see the torches and headlamps of the Taliban moving closer over the nearby hills.
Thankfully we managed to pay a local with a truck to get the vehicles out, saving us from certain attack.
“Back at base Buster would charge around happily with a ball in his mouth, doing everything he could to amuse us all – when you are away from home in a hostile environment entertainment is so valuable.”
Will admits that he didn’t realise the extent of his relationship with Buster until the two left Afghanistan and Buster went into quarantine in Cyprus while he flew home to the UK.
“Before I left him I took Buster to a field for a really good run. He automatically checked it for explosives.
We sat down and had a big cuddle and Buster licked my face. I couldn’t help but wonder what I was going to do without him.
Perhaps he felt the same because he let out a little whine as he Daily Express Saturday January 24 2015 29 shuffled closer and leant his weight against me.
Buster: The dog who saved me is on sale today
“Four hours later I was home. But home without Buster wasn’t right.”
Shortly after returning to work in the UK Will got word that Buster had been sent from Cyprus back to Afghanistan to replace a vehicle search dog that had failed its licensing.
Will was furious: “I knew he hated searching vehicles and I hated the thought of him being back in Helmand so soon and without me.”
When Buster returned to the UK after being quarantined again following that tour Will was waiting for him as the plane he was on landed at RAF Lyneham.
“We had a great reunion with lots of licks from him and strokes and fuss from me.
Buster was back in my life and I felt more like myself with him at my side.”
Come early 2009 Will and Buster were deployed for a six-month tour of Iraq after which it was an agonising 10 months before Buster was released from quarantine in March 2010.
By then he had made headlines for completing more tours of duty than any other military dog.
“Everyone wanted him on their TV show or in their newspaper,” Will recalls.
“We appeared on everything from BBC Breakfast to The One Show where we sat next to Katherine Jenkins on the sofa.
He had captured not just my heart but the whole nation’s.” With arthritis in his shoulder Buster officially retired in 2011 and a year later won the coveted Crufts Friends For Life award presented to him by actress Jennifer Saunders.
Understandably after everything they had been through together Will couldn’t let his best pal go so has kept him as a beloved pet.
Buster is now the official lifetime mascot of the RAF police, an honour that no other dog has received but then no other dog has served in three separate theatres of war: Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.
“He spends his retirement lounging around on the rug, playing with his toys, eating his favourite chicken pâté and making a mess of my house,” laughs Will.
“He’s the ultimate gannet with food and who am I not to indulge him?
“We made a pact from the start to look after each other. I owe him so much that I can never repay the debt, even if we both lived for ever.”
To order Buster: The Dog Who Saved A Thousand Lives by Will Barrow and Isabel George (Virgin Books £9.99) call the Express Bookshop on 01872 562310, or send a cheque or postal order to: Buster Offer, PO Box 200, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 4WJ Visit www.expressbookshop.com. UK delivery is free.
Eastern Daily Press 23/1/15
Sparky & Quinn, both recently back from Afghanistan where they've been seeking out IED's and their handlers Matthew & Sarah at the Animals in the War Remembrance service at
Dearnford Lake today.
Scottish war hero who lost foot wins fight for fitness in battle to walk canine comrade again
MICK McCONNELL lost his foot in a bomb blast in Afghanistan but has returned to fitness so he can walk his explosives sniffer dog Memphis.
Mick with Memphis and his partner Lorna
A SCOTS war hero who was blown up by a boobytrap bomb in
has won his greatest battle – by being reunited with his four-legged comrade. Afganistan
Mick McConnell, who lost his foot in the blast, was desperate to get fighting fit again – so he could walk the special dog who served at his side.
Mick was blown up by a Taliban boobytrap while on patrol with explosives sniffer dog Memphis.
His left heel was shattered and later had to be amputated. He also suffered burns and shrapnel injuries. But the tough Scot vowed to adopt his four-legged pal who served alongside him.
Record man Stephen Paul Stewart reveals Mick’s brush with death and his battle to get the springer spaniel back in new book
. A Soldier’s Best Friend
Mick, 39, originally from Clydebank, described the moment his life changed forever.
He said: “Memphis was up well ahead of me. If he had been next to me, it might not have happened. I think if he had gone over the device, he would have got it.
“I went away in the helicopter and the marines took him back to Checkpoint Toki.
“He was retired then and there, since he had been through a big shock and they didn’t want to put him with someone else.
“My unit was due to come back so he had done enough.”
The book highlights the extraordinary bravery of Britain’s military dog teams in Afghanistan, who have silently waged war against the deadly insurgents.
Every day, these four-legged heroes save soldiers’ lives in the most dangerous country on the planet – yet their contribution is little recognised. Experts believe each hero dog saves the lives of between 150 and 1800 soldiers in the course of its working life.
After leaving the frontline, Memphis was taken to kennels in Germany for quarantine before eventually being reunited with his “daddy”, Mick, at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire.
Mick McConnell and Memphis take a break during their tour of duty in Afghanistan
The spaniel went into a tail-wagging frenzy once he realised who had come to visit. Mick added: “It was brilliant. He just came bounding out the room, had a run round the compound and eventually recognised me.
“It was a good day. Once I am properly on my feet, I will have to get up and walk him so we will keep each other going. I will never run again but I will walk again.”
In 2013, Mick – who has been supported throughout by wife Lorna – was suffering from extreme pain that meant a below-the-knee amputation was his only option.
He added: “Fortunately for me, it was only a partial detonation.
“The lads tell me it was about 20kg of explosive, so if it had all gone off I wouldn’t be here.
“Memphis was terrific out on the frontline – I will never have job satisfaction like that in my life again. It was fantastic just knowing you can help keep guys safe.”
Two soldiers and their dogs have made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan. Scot Liam Tasker, of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, was just 26 when he
. was killed in Helmand on patrol in 2011 with his sniffer dog Theo
Liam’s close pal Ken Rowe and his sniffer dog Sasha were killed in a Taliban ambush in 2008.
Reporter Stephen joined the teams on terrifying missions with the Black Watch in Kandahar. Combining reportage with years of research, he tells the emotional story of the deep ties between the dogs and men.
He said: “This bond is unique – the pairs can work together for years. And, tragically, some handlers die with their dogs.
“It is high time that the story of these overlooked four-legged heroes was told in full.”
A Soldier’s Best Friend by Stephen Paul Stewart is available from Amazon, Waterstones and all good bookshops, £14.99 hardback.
George and Margaret Eland celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary on Thursday
George and Margaret Eland from Guisborough who celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary
Patience is a virtue, as the saying goes.
It is also the key to a long and happy marriage according to a
Guisborough couple who celebrated 60 years of marriage on Thursday.
George and Margaret Eland both agree that a little patience and care is the way to remain happy throughout the years.
Margaret, 78, said: “ We never argue and we have never fallen out.
“Even during the really tough times, like when George was striking for British Steel and we had no money, we always made it work.
“We have been together such a long time now that it seems like we are one.”
Stockton-born George added: “We don’t even have to work at it because we more or less know how the other is feeling.”
The couple, who now live at Kemplah House retirement home in Guisborough, met when George, 87, was stationed in Norfolk as an RAF police dog handler.
Attracted by music coming from the village hall one evening, he attempted to get inside, only to realise that he was at the wrong entrance.
Luckily for the Teessider, a young local girl was on hand to help him get into the dance - and still by his side to this day.
The pair married in Norfolk in 1954 at St Peter’s Parish church but moved back to the North-east after George retired from the RAF.
He spent most of his working life as a heavy goods lorry driver, which meant time away from his family - something both pensioners admit was hard.
George and Margaret Eland's wedding
Margaret said: “I have never liked being away from him and hated it when he was on the road.”
George added: “It was hard being away from the family and I missed them a lot.”
The couple - who have two daughters and one son - have nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
As the youngest of 10, Margaret comes from a big family and now enjoys the fact that they have a big family themselves.
She said: “We are very lucky and have regular visits from our family.
“To help us celebrate our anniversary, we have family travelling from all over the country to join us which is lovely.
“We really are lucky, we know it.
“We have had an amazing life and the years have just flown by.”
The couple have already received plenty of gifts and cards - including one from The Queen - to celebrate their anniversary.
Tonight ,surrounded by family and friends, they will cut their celebratory cake at a party held for them and dance the night away, as they did all those years ago.
Amazing Hertz the sniffer dog, a German shorthaired pointer, was so good at saving British lives the Americans and Danes called him in to assist them too
The RAF’s new recruit was a star from his first day in training and was quickly singled out for special missions.
His talents have since saved countless British lives in Afghanistan – and the Americans and Danes were so impressed he was called in to assist them too.
This fearless hero of the war against the Taliban is called Hertz – and he is a German shorthaired pointer.
as a one-year-old puppy and after excelling at drugs- detection classes he was fast-tracked into special classes which taught him how to sniff out electronic equipment. joined the Royal Air Force
And after just 13 months in Afghanistan he found more than 100 items of contraband.
His RAF handler, Sgt Jonathan Tanner, says: “Hertz, without a doubt,
and women due to his intelligence and amazing nose. saved the lives of countless British and Allied servicemen
“While he was in Afghanistan there wasn’t a single attack on Camp Bastion – and he played a part in that.”
Daily Mirror Ready for action: Hertz in his 'doggles'
His job was to sniff out banned electronic devices brought into the camp by the Afghan civilians working there.
They could potentially be used to pass information to insurgents that could help them plan an attack.
Jonathan, 45, adds: “On one day he found three mobile phones and a couple of chargers in a single tent.
"That was a really big haul. And it wasn’t just mobile phones.
"He also found voice recorders, MP3 players, anything which could store information.
“Once he even sniffed out an individual sim card that had been hidden. He really is extraordinary.”
Now Hertz has been nominated as Public Service Animal of the Year at the Daily Mirror and RSPCA Animal Hero Awards next month.
Although most of his work was at Camp Bastion he was sometimes needed for searches at outlying bases, so was trained to fly by helicopter.
He even had his own
or “doggles”. protective dog goggles
Jonathan says: “Dogs can find air travel stressful but Hertz is an absolute star.
Daily Mirror Old pals: Sergeant Jonathan Tanner with Hertz
"He loves flying by helicopter and took to it really quickly. He especially loved to be at a window so he could look out.”
However, one British Army officer won’t be sitting next to him again in a hurry – the mischievous pup chomped through his pistol-holder during one helicopter flight.
“He got bored easily and would always find something to munch into,” says Jonathan.
“Once Ed Sheeran visited Camp Bastion to entertain the RAF Police.
"Hertz was invited but clearly wasn’t keen on the tunes and ate a chair instead to pass the time!
"But although he had his wayward moments, as soon as I put his harness on him, he knew he was working and he would be 100% focused.”
Hertz had such a good
that the US Marine Corps and Danish forces borrowed him to help with their search operations too. reputation in Afghanistan
Jonathan, an RAF man for 26 years, says: “They were more than keen to get him on side and we were more than happy for him to be used by other nations.
Daily Mirror Full of life: Hertz at RAF Benson
“It took Hertz a tiny proportion of the time it would take a team of people to search an area so he allowed us to massively cut down on man-hours.
“We could be called to any job if they thought that Hertz might find something.
"He really was very highly respected.
“Any high-ranking military visitors always wanted to meet him. But he had no respect for rank – if you went to his kennel you didn’t get away without a slobbery kiss on the face!
“We were in Afghanistan for Christmas last year and he was thoroughly spoiled.
"The British public are so kind and generous and literally sent out hundreds of boxes full of treats for the military dogs.
“Hertz had a brilliant time tearing into his little stockpile of pressies.
Daily Mirror Playtime: The pointer has a gift for sniffing out mobile phones
“He was a real favourite in Camp Bastion.
"We would often go to the NAAFI for a brew and a biscuit and he always stretched out on the floor and gladly accepted the fuss that everyone wanted to make of him.”
Hertz lived in a purpose-built kennel complex
which was air-conditioned for the scorching summers and heated for the icy winters. at Camp Bastion
It even had a swimming pool so the dogs could cool off.
Jonathan says: “Hertz absolutely loved the pool – any opportunity and he’d be in there. Weather was never an issue for him.
"He worked through a whole range of conditions, from 45-degree heat to minus 10 in the winter.
"While we were out there we even had the first snowfall at Camp Bastion in 12 years. Hertz was really excited.
"He’d be sliding about in it all over the place.
“He is an absolutely
– my best mate while in theatre. cracking dog
Hero: Sergeant Jonathan Tanner with Hertz
"When I was having a bad day or was missing home, I’d go and visit him in the kennels and he’d give me a big lick and make me feel better.
"From day one I knew he was something special and I wasn’t wrong.
“When I had to leave Afghanistan after nine-and-a-half months it was very tough leaving Hertz behind.
"He’s probably got another three or so years left of service then I’m looking forward to him becoming part of my family.”
After Jonathan came home in May to wife Jo and daughters Hazel, 13, and Zoe, 10, Hertz carried on with new handler Corporal Simon Dack, before returning to Britain in September.
He is now working on RAF bases here, mainly as a drugs detection dog, while he waits for his next big assignment overseas.
Jonathan says: “This week we were reunited for the first time since I left him in Afghanistan.
"I was worried he might have forgotten me but it was just like we’d never been apart.
“His tail didn’t stop wagging and I didn’t stop smiling.”
RAF Police dog handler- Corporal Mick McConnell- was injured while serving in Afghanistan.
http://www.youtuberepeat.org/?videoId=RAAFRHjsh4c RAF Image of the Year: Nine shortlisted for public vote
Nine pictures have been shortlisted for the Royal Air Force's image of the year competition, with the public being urged to choose the image they feel best represents the service.
is part of the RAF's annual Photographic Competition, which depicts the air force in action. The People's Choice award
The final entrants, with introductions from the RAF, are as follows:
7. Through the Keyhole - Corporal Rogers, RAF St Magwan
"An RAF Police dog handler puts his police dog ‘Pacino’ through his paces on the dog agility course on Trebelzue airfield at RAF St Mawganin Cornwall."
Through the Keyhole Credit: Corporal Rogers, RAF St Magwan
Dog handler posted to the Falkland Islands
Corporal Laura Willetts with her German Shepherd Ordy
A FORMER pupil from is helping to guard the Falkland Islands – with the help of a canine friend. The Hurst Community College
Corporal Laura Willetts, an RAF Police dog handler, is patrolling RAF Mount Pleasant with her five-year-old German Shepherd Ordy, and they are pictured right.
The 32-year-old, originally from Tadley, joined the RAF in 2008 after working as a travel agent and part-time gym instructor.
She said she decided to become a dog handler because she had always wanted to work with animals.
She said: “You get very attached to the dogs and it is hard to leave them. Even if you are having a bad day, they will do something to make you laugh.”
The dogs at RAF Mount Pleasant live in a newly-built kennel complex that has underfloor heating, 22 kennels, a grooming area and a food preparation room.
Cpl Willetts, who still has family and friends in the Basingstoke area, is normally based in Cyprus.
The sixth-month tour of the Falklands is her second in her career, and she has also served in Afghanistan.
Oliver and Toki at work in the Falklands
A young serviceman from Seaford is helping protect an air base in the Falkland Islands – with the help of his dog.
Royal Air Force Police Corporal Oliver Griggs, 22, is serving in the Falklands with the Joint Service Police and Security Unit Dog Section.
Oliver is a RAF police dog handler working with Toki, a German Shepherd dog, who is three years old next month.
Their role is to help provide security to the base at Mount Pleasant.
Oliver said, ”I have always had a great passion for dogs and couldn’t think of a better way than to include them within my job.”
The Command Dog Inspector, who allocates the dogs, will always try to match the dog to the handler’s personality, in order to compliment each other.
Oliver said, “Toki and I are both alike in that, we are both young, energetic and we understand each other.
“It is important to build a great bond so the dogs listen and follow your commands.”
Oliver joined the RAF in 2013 and was posted to the Dog Section at RAF Brize Norton before deploying to the Falklands Islands for his first tour.
He attended Seaford Head Community College before progressing to Sussex Downs College, Lewes to study Uniformed Public Services.
On completion of college he joined East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service working as a fire-fighter within Seaford before joining the RAF.
Oliver said, “I’ve enjoyed my time down here and learnt many new skills, whilst meeting some great people but I can’t wait to come home and see my friends and family, along with returning to my home base at RAF Brize Norton.”
The dogs live in a newly built, state of the art, environmentally friendly kennel facility.
The facility is temperature controlled and has under floor heating to help cope with the demands of the bitter conditions associated with Falklands.
To improve the dogs’ welfare the newly built section has been economically designed and incorporates 22 kennels, two isolation kennels, a grooming area, dog wet room, laundry, treatment room, isolation area, storage areas and food preparation room.
RAF Dog Scents Success
13 June 2014
News articles by date
Canine hero Hertz is Bastion drugbuster
A RAF police dog is rapidly becoming a canine hero in Afghanistan where his nose for trouble is confounding contraband smugglers.
Hertz, a German short-haired Pointer and his handler, Corporal Simon Dack, 25, work the vehicle search bays at the Main Entry Point (MEP) at Camp Bastion where Hertz is the only RAF police dog among a talented pack of 55 on the current deployment, Herrick 20.
“His breed is harder to train than breeds such as Spaniels,” said Cpl Dack of the Tactical Military Working Dogs Squadron. “But we’ve worked hard together and it’s showing results. He’s a lovely boy and he’s so eager to please. The US Marines and the Jordanians are very impressed by him.”
The scores of trucks and their drivers which enter the British base go through an exacting daily search process at the hands of a joint security force of RAF Police, US Marine Corps and Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF).
While the cabs, engines and trailers of the HGVs are scrutinised by human eyes, Cpl Dack puts Hertz’s nose to work, with amazing results. Hertz specialises in drugs and his haul is usually cannabis resin and naswar – a powerful carcinogenic and highly addictive form of chewing tobacco.
Naswar is legal in Afghanistan but banned in Bastion, which means it has a black market value among the many Afghan and Asian civilian workers on the base which is home to many Coalition units, including 903 Expeditionary Air Wing which runs Bastion Airfield.
Three-year-old Hertz sniffs out substantial quantities of the drugs, either hidden in trucks or swiftly deposited among the search bays by drivers as they get out of their cabs.
After one successful bust by Hertz, in which four bags of fresh naswar were found hidden under a truck’s batteries, Cpl Salah Mohammed, a policeman with the JAF, said: “The dog is doing a great job. We like him a lot. We enjoy working with him and with the RAF and Americans. We are all one team.”
Over a period of two days in June, Hertz uncovered half a kilo of cannabis one day and five bags of naswar. His reward? He gets to play with his rubber toy that Cpl Dack carries with him during searches.
“We are a close team and I’d love to take him home with me after the drawdown but he’s too useful to the Service,” added Cpl Dack.
Editor: Cpl Daniel Wiepen
Photographs: Flt Lt Tony Durrant
RAF policeman Cpl Simon Dack watches Hertz as he sniffs a truck.
RAF policeman Cpl Jay Warren, the Jordanian Search Adviser, left, and dog handler Cpl Simon Dack search trucks with sniffer dog Hertz at Bastion’s Main Entry Point.
RAF police dog Hertz ‘freezes’ to show handler Cpl Simon Dack that he smells something.
RAF/MOD Crown Copyright 2014
A couple of photographs of some very wet but very happy QPD's thanks to the great team at Waddington Dog Section 2014
Bobbi Stenning firstname.lastname@example.org
2 March 14
Calling all RAF Police Doghandlers who trained at the Defence Animal Centre, Melton Mowbray. A Mr Tim Savage is writing a history of the centre and would appreciate a call from QPDs who trained there.
His details are: Tim Savage, Project Officer Melton Carnegie Museum, Thorpe End, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, LE13 1RB. Tel: 0116 305 2566 email: Timothy.Savage@leics.gov.uk
09 October 2013
Brave brothers of the RAF Police
The military has always had proud traditions of families following each other into service and also offering a chance to make more out of life. Both are apparent in the story of the two newest additions to the RAF Police Section in the Falkland Islands.
The two brothers, who joined the RAF Police less than 18 months ago from a difficult background, are already making a name for themselves. They have proved themselves policing experts, with a gift for finding and detaining intruders, who aren’t afraid to deal with trouble, who work well as a team or on their own, and who respond enthusiastically to any orders given. It is obvious they have very bright futures ahead of them.
But what makes these brothers really special is that they have four legs and a tail. Flint and Fitz, two Belgian Malinois, were adopted into the military working dog puppy development programme at the Defence Animal Centre alongside another brother, Frank and sister, Flo at five months old after they were rescued by the RSPCA in a group of 60 dogs confiscated from a rogue breeder.
It was a true second chance for the family of puppies. The RSPCA had previously tried to re-home them as pets. Their high work drive and energetic nature meant that people were unable to control them or keep them within their homes.
However, the same traits that made them unruly as pets meant that they had potential for military service, and they were accepted into the UK Forces’ programme despite being more than twice the usual age for dogs entering training.
After being tested for a variety of disciplines Flo was selected to be a police dog, while the three brothers were put through training as protection dogs. This involves using positive reinforcement based training and making the training objectives into a game for the dogs. While this is fun for the dogs, the level required is still exceptionally high. Flint and Fitz were required to prove themselves at several stages of training. First they had to show that they had enough potential to learn and develop from puppies into full working dogs. Next they were moved onto a training course where they were expected to regularly show development in their obedience and ‘bite-work’ – keeping to a strict time table.
Finally they were put through two ‘pass out’ testing programmes, showing their ability to find a person, chase and bite them if they proved to be hostile. They were also required to perform full obedience demonstrations, confirming a high level of control and athleticism on and off lead.
After proving themselves as capable dogs across the board, Flint and Fitz were selected to boost the number of dogs used by the RAF in the Falkland Islands to defend the valuable assets operating there.
The brave lads now stand out as two of the best police dogs on the Islands. Not content with professional success, they also represented the RAF at the Stanley Dog Trials, with Flint taking first place and Fitz third.
RAF Dentist treats Military working dogs
A Royal Air Force Dental Officer in Afghanistan has been treating Military Working Dogs at Kandahar Air Field (KAF).
Squadron Leader Stuart Marshall (37), and dental nurse Private Naomi Kingsbury (20), make up the team working in the Dental Clinic at KAF, treating all International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) personnel. They deal with all emergency cases and also have a close link to the Base Veterinary Surgery. Recently they were called in to assist with the case of South African dog handler Craig Vantonver’s dog, Zino, a 5 year-old Belgium Malinois., Mr Vantonver and Zino, who are employed by American k-9 Detection Services, work on a nearby Air Base, specialising in explosive detection and patrol work. Zino had been distracted from his job, and Mr Vantonver immediately realised something was wrong.
Military Working Dogs play a key role in counter insurgency and improvised explosive device (IED) detection, searching and helping to clear routes, buildings and vehicles in Afghanistan as well as helping to guard and patrol key installations to assist and enhance security. Without such dogs, these tasks would be significantly more difficult and dangerous. As with the welfare of all military animals, rapid treatment for these working dogs is essential for both their well-being and for and minimal disruption to their invaluable operational support. Zino was referred to Squadron Leader Marshall and Private Kingsbury by Major Patrick Grimm, the US Army Base Veterinarian. The dental team carried out a computerised tomography (CT) scan which highlighted two problem teeth.
Squadron Leader Marshall, along with Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Keir (US Army Officer in charge of the Dental Clinic) successfully operated on Zino, removing an upper and lower molar. After the successful operation, Squadron Leader Marshall said:
“It’s brilliant, really interesting and nice to be doing something different. Dogs are really important out here and they do a lot of work. If they have a problem with their teeth then they can’t work, and their condition can quickly worsen.”
He added: “The dogs do jobs our guys just can’t do”
Private Kingsbury said ruefully: “When they said we would be treating canines, it wasn’t the kind I had in mind!”.
Zino’s handler, Craig Vantonver was very grateful for the efforts of the dental team, commenting, “Squadron Leader Marshall told me Zino should be back to his usual self within a week, and we hope to have him back doing detection work about one week after that:
“Zino will have to get use to not having his back teeth pretty quickly, I reward him with his favourite toy…and he chews it with those teeth!”.
Editor: Flight Lieutenant Rachael Lee
Photography: Sergeant Dale Hunt
RAF/MOD Crown Copyright 2013
We’ve all heard of dogs being used in the police force, and perhaps the military, but what do they actually do and why is this so important?
Security is always at the top of the agenda at our military bases and recent incidents, such as the murder of bandsman Lee Rigby and the Drone protests at RAF Waddington, have underlined the need for this.
RAF police dogs are trained for 15 – 16 weeks when they are puppies, to assist RAF policeman when policing military bases.
At the end of the training course, these highly intelligent dogs are able to sniff out drugs and unexploded bombs.
This is extremely important, as humans cannot track down bombs very easily, but with a dog’s help the task becomes achievable.
Dogs are also trained to become patrol dogs, and can specialise in vehicle searches.
All in all, there are many important jobs that need dogs to complete them. These jobs rely on breeds being specially trained during the military’s intensive dog-handling training programme.
After the recent Drone protests at their base, no doubt the canine force will be on full alert at next month’s RAF Waddington Air Show, when thousands of visitors across the UK descend on this military showpiece.
Lydia, Year 8
Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar, Alford
Cosford Dog training and Behaviour Centre is full of tricks
The more you learn about dogs, the more you realise you know little about them. Well, you would think 30 years of working with canines would qualify, but according to retired RAF police dog handler and senior instructor John Fitzpatrick, you never stop learning.
And there is no dog that can’t be trained as John proves day-in day-out at his training centre in Codsall Wood.
John’s interest in dogs began when he was twelve years old after watching a display from RAF dog demonstration team.
He initially wanted to go into the police force but was half an inch too small so he opted for the RAF.
His three dogs, Tilly, Jimmy and Daisy are always undergoing some kind of training with Jimmy currently learning weave poles and jumping.
John has a degree in Canine Behaviour and training and is soon to appear in Animal Heroes documentary due to transmit on June 4 th as well as a Churchill Commercial
AN RAF dentist has had the most unusual patient of her career - a grumpy alsatian dog.
Max, a protection dog trained to hunt down intruders at restricted military bases, is not normally known for his pleasant demeanour.
But his mood became even worse when he developed a toothache and needed a root canal operation.
Veterinary Officer Major Claire Budge didn’t have the specialist equipment needed for the procedure, so she contacted Flight Lieutenant Minti Elcomb, a dentist based at RAF Waddington whose normal job is to work on human teeth.
Major Budge who is based at the Defence Animal Centre in Melton Mowbray said: “It was clear on examination of Max’s teeth that he needed root canal treatment. This is a specialist procedure requiring specialist equipment.
“I approached Flt Lt Elcomb at RAF Waddington to ask her to carry out the procedure. Although her day to day work is on human teeth she had the necessary equipment and is also allowed to carry out treatment on animals at the request of a veterinary surgeon.”
Flt Lt Elcomb added: “It was an unusual request but I was interested in seeing how the Vets work and jumped at the chance to try something new. It was not too different from doing human root canal, just a lot quieter since the patient was asleep!”
Flt Lt Elcomb travelled to Max’s home base, the Defence Animal Centre in Melton Mowbray along with dental nurse Senior Aircraftsman Rebecca Powles to perform a root canal on one of Max’s canine teeth.
Max’s surgery was monitored throughout by Army Veterinary Staff and he’s now at home recuperating.
Corporal Marc Lawson of the RAF Police, from Malvern takes a break to play with his Arms Explosive Search Dog, Mister, a black Labrador in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan. Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA
CPS demanded a statement from "PC Peach," who is actually PD Peach. They were told several times Peach was actually a police dog but insisted on a written statement so the case handler sent them this.
12 September 2012
This afternoon I have had it confirmed that sadly, there will not be any Dog Trials this year.
Explosives sniffer dog to be given the 'Victoria Cross' for animals
- last updated Thu 6 Sep 2012
An explosives sniffer dog who died after his army handler was killed in Afghanistan is to be given a posthumous award for its heroic actions.
Lance Corporal Liam Tasker, 26, from The Royal Army Veterinary Corps, 1st Military Working Dog Regiment, was shot by insurgents on 1 March last year.
He was on patrol in Helmand Province with his dog Theo, who died of a seizure shortly afterwards.
Spaniel Theo is to be awarded the 'animals' Victoria Cross' after making the most ever finds by any explosives search dog in Afghanistan Credit: Ministry of Defence/PA Wire
Springer spaniel Theo is to be awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal, known as the animals' Victoria Cross.
Theo made the most confirmed operational finds by any arms and explosives search dog in Afghanistan to date.
PDSA director general Jan McLoughlin said: "Theo's exceptional devotion to duty as a military working dog in Afghanistan saved countless human lives."
The inseparable pair detected a record 14 Taliban roadside bombs and weapons caches in five months.
They are believed to have saved countless lives through search and clearance support, uncovering hidden weapons, improvised explosive devices and bomb-making equipment.
Police with dogs salute as the cortege for Lance Corporal Liam Tasker from the Royal Army Veterinary Corps passes through Wootton Bassett. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
L/Cpl Tasker, from Tayport in Fife, was posthumously honoured with an MBE in September last year.
On one occasion, he is said to have discovered an underground tunnel leading to a room in which insurgents were suspected of making bombs and hiding from coalition forces.
Speaking after an inquest in Trowbridge, Wiltshire last year, L/Cpl Tasker's mother, Jane Duffy, said the fact her son and Theo had "worked together and died together" brought her some comfort from knowing they were "somewhere together now".
Police dogs help airborne gunners broaden their horizons
24 Jul 12
Colchester-based airborne gunners have been chased down by police dogs during training.
Essex Police dogs Gunner, left, and Dino, right, get their teeth into Lance Bombardier William Saunders
[Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]
F Battery, 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (7 Para RHA) has taken part in Exercise Sphinx Diligence, designed to develop soldiers' teamwork and broaden their skills beyond their core artillery role.
On 20 July, the gunners were visited by Essex Police Dog Unit, who bought 12 dogs to demonstrate their sharply honed skills. The German Shepherds are trained to search areas to find missing people or criminals and enforce public order.
The police dogs tracked down soldiers hidden around Colchester's Merville Barracks before the troops were padded up to be chased and detained by dogs.
Bombardier Mick Hall was grounded by Baron, handled by PC Gary Lambert. Bombardier Hall said:
Gunner Harry Paxman is caught by Essex Police dog Rocky
[Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]
"It was both exciting and frightening when I heard the dog coming up behind me, and I really felt the power when the dog got its jaws around my arm, even through the padding.
"The dogs have been great fun, with a lot of banter, but the whole exercise has been interesting because everything has been different to the usual gunnery we do."
Police dog instructor, PC Colin Elsegood, said:
"An event like this gives an extra dimension to the dogs' training.
"It exposes our dogs to some very fit people who will run and react in a different way to what they are used to."
Gunner Daniel Chetwin on the run from Essex Police dog Baron
[Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]
During the two-week long exercise, troops have practised the infantry skill of fighting at Fingringhoe Ranges, learnt self-defence at SD School of Martial Arts in Colchester, and visited the Imperial War Museum at Duxford.
Battery commander Major Chris Coton said the purpose of the varied exercise was to 'take our soldiers out of their comfort zone'.
Major Coton said:
"This exercise has been about exposing our soldiers to activities that are very different to the usual artillery training and that they may not have done before, in a way that is both fun and worthwhile.
"This activity with police dogs is a good test of courage, with the dogs also providing a superb example of discipline and training. Everyone's really enjoyed it, with our soldiers providing guinea pigs for the dogs to play with
Caerphilly dog handler on duty at air tattoo
3:31pm Wednesday 4th July 2012 in Campaign news
Sniffer dog Alvin, with his handler Cpl David Parton, 22, from Caerphilly
A DOG handler from Caerphilly will be on duty with his two-year-old cocker spaniel Alvin at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, this weekend.
Sniffer dog Alvin, along with his handler Cpl David Parton, 22, from Caerphilly is on duty as just one element of the RAF Police security team at the world’s biggest military airshow which takes place on Saturday and Sunday.
And it’s obvious that Alvin enjoys his work as he sniffs his way around some of the hundreds of trade vehicles making their way onto the showground in the build-up to the event.
David said: "I joined the RAF Police in September 2010 and spent five months training with patrol dogs before specialising in vehicle searches. Alvin and I were teamed up in April – I was doing my training course at the same time as he was – and we now work together, with Alvin being trained to sniff out explosives, arms, ammunition and weapons parts."
This is the first time David’s visited the Air Tattoo and he’s enjoying it so far.
He added: "Our next tour of duty will be a bit different as Alvin and I will both be off to Afghanistan in September for a six-month tour of duty.
After that I’ll be coming back to Britain, but Alvin will stay out there to work with other handlers, returning after a couple of tours."
Airdog Borik Jumps the Armed Forces Day Flag
A Royal Air Force Police Dog Handler watches as airdog Borik jumps over the Armed Forces Day Flag at RAF Waddington.
Armed Forces Day is on Saturday 30th June with the National Event taking place in Plymouth. Find out more at www.armedforcesday.org.uk
Photographer: SAC Chris Davidson
Image 45153978.jpg from www.defenceimages.mod.uk
A.D.U.(N.I.) Reunion 2012
Unveiling of the Memorial to those who perished in the Blackburn Beverley accident of 5th March 1957, at Sutton Wick
DOGS TO SNIFF OUT THE ARGIES
THE Ministry of Defence is calling for trained dog handlers to be deployed in the Falkland Islands to detect secret nighttime incursions by Argentine troops.
It comes amid fears by senior brass that a small cadre of Argentine Special Forces may target a section of the islands' immense craggy coastlines and plant an Argentine flag in a propaganda coup that would embarrass the British Government.
Senior officers of the RAF Police Dog Section, based at Mount Pleasant, have pleaded for dog handlers whose dogs have special “windscenting detection” training, to volunteer for six-to-eight week postings.
Recent intelligence briefings in London have determined that any Argentine threat would most likely take the form of a small incursion, possibly using civilian craft, landing on a remote part of the coastline.
Patrolling with infantry, the dogs would be able to sniff the presence of another person as much as half a mile away.
“Training is provided and involves joint patrols with the Resident Infantry Company at night on the mountains for possible ‘find and fight’ operations,” said the appeal.
“Windscenting detection-training is paramount, as are routine patrols to outlying settlements, often being heli-lifted between islands.”
Volunteers are asked to contact the Assistant Chief of Staff (Manning) in the Falklands.
One MoD source told the Sunday Express: “The real fear at the moment isn’t for an all-out invasion, but some kind of opportunistic propaganda stunt that would embarrass the Government.
IN PICTURES: Military dogs at work in Helmand
11 Apr 12
Two Army dog handlers have been providing security for British forces in Helmand for the past month by searching vehicles entering ISAF bases for weapons and explosives.
Private Kathleen Griffiths with protection dog Vinco and Lance Corporal Sophie Mitchell with search dogs Flake and Trough
[Picture: Corporal Andy Reddy RLC, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]
Lance Corporal Sophie Mitchell, aged 27, and Private Kathleen Griffiths, 21, are working with search dogs Flake and Trough, and protection dog Vinco at Main Operating Base Price. Their job involves them providing vital protection to the UK, International Security assistance Force (ISAF) and Afghan troops who operate in the Nahr-e Saraj area of Helmand province.
While Pte Griffiths keeps watch over the area with protection dog Vinco, a five-year-old German Shepherd, LCpl Mitchell handles search dogs Fluke and Trough - both three-year-old spaniels, as they search trucks and cars looking to gain access to the base.
While both handlers and Fluke have been in Afghanistan for about a month. Vinco has a bit more experience having been in Afghanistan for a year already.
Pte Griffiths said:
"The relationship you build up with the dogs is fantastic. It's like having a best friend working alongside you 24/7, and you'll do anything to keep that dog safe."
Vinco, a five-year-old German Shepherd
[Picture: Corporal Andy Reddy RLC, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]
Both soldiers have recently become dog handlers; LCpl Mitchell transferred to the Royal Army Veterinary Corps from being an Army clerk last year, and Pte Griffiths joined the Army last February, completing her basic training in time to start training with her unit for Afghanistan.
Both handlers are based in Aldershot with 101 Military Working Dogs Squadron, and this is the first time they have worked together.
Pte Griffiths said:
"Working with the other handlers is really good, because you're working alongside somebody that has the same interests as you, and you've got something in common."
Throughout their tour in Afghanistan the highly trained dogs and their handlers will carry out a variety of tasks including providing security at the main British operating bases, searching vehicles at checkpoints, and going out on partnered patrols with the Afghan National Security Forces to search for weapons, ammunitions and explosives.
102 Squadron, 1st Military Working Dog Regiment have received their NATO medals in Sennelager in front of their friends and family.
Over 50 soldiers were presented with their medals by the RAF Provost Marshall, Group Captain Mark Sexton.
The squadron, which also deployed with 12 members of the RAF Police, has spent the last six months in Afghanistan in a search and protection role.
Ex-RAF doggie hero takes centre stage at Crufts
Jennifer Saunders may have been handing out the award, but there was only one real celebrity at Crufts when a very special springer spaniel was announced as the winner of the Friends for Life competition.
Buster goes top
Five heroic dogs were shortlisted for the class, with the British public casting the final vote. It was ex-RAF dog Buster, along with his handler Michael Barrow, who were announced as the overall winners.
Buster has served five tours of duty, sniffing out explosives and saving many lives. His keen nose also helped arrest two suicide bombers in Afghanistan and was called upon to help foot patrols hunt Taliban insurgents and track down booby-trap bombs.
The springer returned home a military hero and is now enjoying his retirement living with Michael, who was thrilled with the award. “It’s absolutely fantastic,” said the RAF Police Sergeant. “I am so pleased, more for Buster as it’s a culmination of a fantastic career. There is nothing like the bond we have - he has literally saved my life.”
As well as the coveted trophy the pair received a cheque from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust which Michael has donated to Hounds for Heroes.
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club spokesperson, said that the Friends for Life competition was an opportunity to celebrate dogs that have truly earned the title of man’s best friend. “All the dogs nominated have shown unfailing loyalty and spirit in their constant desire to help, and are a great example of the incredible difference that dogs can make to our lives,” she said.
20 March 2012
The final upgrade to be made at RAF Northolt by Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) under Project Model has been completed, with the replacement of the Military Working Dog Section facility.
Designed to rationalise the Defence estate in London, Project Model has invested over £180 million in RAF Northolt over the last five years.
The new Dog Section provides an upgrade to the previous facility, and will support the RAF Police's ability to conduct dog patrols and secure the airfield and aircraft assets.
The facility is a bespoke design featuring 22 kennels and incorporating a number of sustainability innovations, including rain water harvesting and solar panels providing the power for the heating. The new section also includes a separate quarantine block which will help reduce the risk of cross contamination between the dogs kennelled onsite.
DIO integrated project team leader for project Model, David Salmond said:
"The delivery of the Dog Section has marked the end of over five years of construction works at RAF Northolt and the realisation of the vision to deliver a fit for purpose anchor site for Defence. Its success is a credit to the collaborative work of those involved".
The redevelopment works at RAF Northolt have delivered over 600 Single Living Accommodation rooms, as well as a refurbished listed Officers Mess, a new Junior Ranks Mess, and Recreational and Technical facilities.
Along with the ongoing maintenance of the new facilities at RAF Northolt, Project Model will continue to deliver at other locations throughout 2012. This includes the construction of a new Welfare Centre at Woolwich Station, and the re-development of RAF Uxbridge in west London.
'Harvey' the Springer Spaniel, an Arms Explosive Search (AES) dog.
The completed Kennels at RAF Northolt.
RAF/MOD Crown Copyright 2012
Earlier, a devoted dog earned the title of man's best friend and took home the Friends For Life prize after he braved bombs and bullets on five tours of duty.
Buster will now retire at home with RAF Police Sergeant Michael Barrow after winning the celebrated prize.
While in service - which included tours in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan - Buster saved countless lives by sniffing out explosive vests, leading to the arrests of two suicide bombers.
He joined his comrades repeatedly on foot patrols through the poppy fields in Afghanistan, hunting Taliban insurgents and tracking down booby trap bombs left behind for British and American troops.
This year, there were five categories in which entrants could be nominated - service dogs, police dogs, assistance dogs, companion dogs and 2012 Games dogs.
The spaniel won after receiving the most votes from the public.
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club spokeswoman, said: "The Friends for Life competition is one of the highlights of Crufts each year.
Buster, a spaniel, who undertook tours of Afghanistan, Iraq and Bosnia, won the title of "man's best friend".
He saved lives by sniffing out suicide bombers wearing explosive vests.
55th Anniversary - Beverley Crash Commemoration
On Monday 5th March 2012, around 30 RAF Police veterans and their relatives gathered in the Museum Memorial Garden to commemorate the 55th Anniversary of the crash of Blackburn Beverley XH117 at Sutton Wick. They were joined by three serving members of the RAF Police Dog Handlers Section at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire; and everyone joined in a short service of dedication for a commemorative tree and bench that have been purchased in memory of those lost at Sutton Wick in 1957.
Everyone present was welcomed by Squadron Leader P Summerville RAF Rtd., who was the last Officer Commanding the RAF Police Dog School at RAF Newton, Notts. Having provided background details to the commemoration Squadron Leader Summerville read out the names of those service personnel that were lost at Sutton Wick. This was followed by a reading of the Kohima Epitaph, after which the Last Post was sounded.
‘Beverley Corner’ in Display Hangar 2 at the museum features a graphic display that has been prepared as a tribute to those that lost their lives in the Sutton Wick Beverley crash of March 5th 1957.
The Sutton Wick Beverley display was instigated by Nigel Bean who was a RAF Police Dog Handler and the display commemorates the aircrew, RAF Police Officers, civilians and RAF Police dogs that were killed in the tragic crash of Beverley XH117 from 53 Squadron. The aircraft crashed at Sutton Wick, which is approximately 2 miles south of RAF Abingdon, whilst attempting to return to base after having just taken off en route to Cyprus via Malta. On board the aircraft were 18 personnel and 11 RAF Police dogs; only 3 personnel survived the crash; and 2 local villagers were also killed.
Amongst the veterans that assembled at Newark today was Eddie Snailum, who was the Instructor to most of the RAF Police Officers killed on that fateful day in 1957.
Each year after the Remembrance Day Service at the RAF Winthorpe Memorial Garden, Nigel Bean moves a wreath into Hangar 2 to honour those who lost their lives at Sutton Wick.
The Dog Section at RAF Akrotiri has managed to extend the professional lives of two working dogs.
Former drug dogs with the RAF Police, Bonzo and Benji, are now employed by customs to sniff out contraband tobacco and cigarettes.
They work at the Air Terminal on the base as well as at the border crossings between north and south Cyprus.
I spotted this site while searching for something else and was pleased to see a few old muckers on the site and that there is a Bruggen reunion next year. I hope to be able to make that but I am still serving in Staffordshire Police after leaving the RAFP in 1991 and in a role where I will be used for the Olympics and Jubilee, so I may not be able to make it.
However, I have attached a picture of the Dog section in 1990 when we were asked to form a guard of honour for 17F squadron at RAF Bruggen for their 75 th anniversary. Would you be able to pop it on the site for those of us that remember?
Ex Cpl Crinson RAFP QPD
Working dogs are man's best friend in Afghanistan
21 Oct 11
102 Military Working Dog (MWD) Squadron has recently taken over the vital role of commanding the Theatre Military Working Dog Support Unit in Afghanistan on Operation HERRICK 15.
Private Chris Lush with his arms and explosives search dog, Charlie
[Picture: Sergeant Steve Blake RLC, Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]
The squadron is responsible for the deployment, care and welfare of over 80 military working dogs.
The dogs provide security at operating bases and help with the detection of improvised explosive devices, allowing troops the freedom of movement to conduct counter-insurgency operations.
The benefits of military working dogs are widely recognised across Defence, with 102 MWD Squadron being responsible for training and deploying a two-fold increase in detection dog capability for Op HERRICK 15.
Normally handled by the Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC) and Royal Air Force Police, 102 MWD Squadron will be the first squadron responsible for commanding infantry soldiers that have been specially selected and trained to handle IED detection dogs.
The Officer Commanding 102 MWD Squadron, Major Eddie Thompson, Royal Engineers, said:
"It's a proud and honoured time for both the 1st Military Working Dog Regiment and the squadron, who will see the introduction of embedded dog handlers, providing the infantry companies with a life- and limb-saving capability.
"These specialist dog teams will be providing an added level of detection against the IED threats that they face daily here in Helmand."
The dogs and handlers have undergone a comprehensive training and fitness programme in preparation for the Afghan environment which will be consolidated in Camp Bastion in a new state-of-the-art IED detection dog training facility.
Private Laura March with her improvised explosive device detection dog, Max
[Picture: Sergeant Steve Blake RLC, Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]
Private Laura March, RAVC, who works with Max, a black labrador, said:
"He and I are inseparable; he has boundless energy and with the fantastic facilities here in Camp Bastion the dogs are more than prepared.
"The dogs' fitness is not an issue with the preparation they've had. I must admit I found it hard at first carrying all the weight, but since completing over six months' training and the time we have spent in theatre acclimatising I am now used to it."
The dogs' needs have been well catered for in Helmand, with an uplift of conditioned ISO (freight container) kennels and the procurement of tactical field and 'forward operating base' kennels specifically designed to maximise dog comfort, cleanliness and safety.
The operational kennels ensure the dogs have the best possible environment to rest and recuperate in between patrols.
The dogs are procured from all over the world and are of various breeds including Cocker and Springer spaniels, German and Belgian Shepherds (Malinois), and labrador retrievers.
Lance Corporal Kevin Anderson, from 102 MWD Squadron based in Sennelager, Germany, works with an 18-month-old male Belgian Malinois called Fridjtof. He said:
"Working with Fridjtof has been absolutely brilliant; he is a search dog and incredibly hardworking. He copes well with the hot conditions here as we have been training in a similar climate prior to coming to Afghanistan.
"We bonded in a couple of weeks and he is a pleasure to work with."
Lance Corporal Anderson is in Afghanistan for the second time, Fridjtof is there for the first time. They will share a close working relationship over the coming months in what is possibly the most austere environment any dog handler could encounter.
The squadron provides vehicle search dogs which search all vehicles entering Camp Bastion, preventing the entry of illegal contraband - primarily arms and explosives.
Corporal 'Fozzy' Foster, Royal Air Force Police, with his vehicle search dog, Mac
[Picture: Sergeant Steve Blake RLC, Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]
Corporal 'Fozzy' Foster is in the Royal Air Force Police and works at Camp Bastion with his black labrador, Mac. He said:
"Mac is playful, but when it comes to doing his job he is focused and thorough.
"It is hot work so I keep him hydrated and in the shade where I can. You grow to know your dog very well. I always reward him with a treat or a bit of playtime with his ball after work.
"New or updated equipment to make life easier and safer for ourselves and the dogs is arriving all the time. Recent additions include operational harnesses, para-shades, control lines and hydration packs.
"The dogs play an important part of daily life in Afghanistan and provide that extra feeling of safety and security to the humans they work with. They have no agenda and the work is just an extension of their natural instincts, proving to be a daily life-saver."
Facing the same dangers that the environment in Afghanistan brings to coalition forces and the Afghan National Security Forces, the dogs are on the ground daily and have been pre-selected for their steadiness and appreciation of the environment.
The IED training area allows the dogs to become accustomed to the unusual noises of helicopters, mortar and gun fire and also allows the teams to familiarise themselves with the various forms of transport they may come across.
Working with a search dog is Lance Corporal Lou Robinson, who works with a female Belgian Malinois called Hiha. The dog is two-and-a-half years old and has worked in Afghanistan before.
Lance Corporal Robinson said:
"I have worked with Hiha for about two weeks and she is awesome; I have also served in Afghanistan before in 2009. Working with the dogs is great and Hiha has a really good temperament.
"We have the dogs' welfare at the forefront of our minds and when not working we have plunge pools and conditioned kennels where the dogs can recover."
Lance Corporal Lou Robinson with her high assurance search dog, Hiha
[Picture: Sergeant Steve Blake RLC, Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]
Also in the working dog section is Private Chris Lush. He is in Afghanistan for the first time and is working with Charlie, a two-and-a-half-year-old Springer spaniel who is a different type of search dog. Private Lush said:
"I have the utmost trust in Charlie; he does a brilliant job and is one of the best dogs in the section. It is hard work and we are carrying a lot of equipment, plus extra gear for the dog to do its job.
"I was a bit nervous at first working out here, but we, as a team of handlers, work well together. The dogs all get on with each other and they are well looked after.
"I have always loved dogs; I studied animal management at Sparsholt College near Winchester before I joined up. Diet for the dogs is important and we feed them 'Eukanuba', a high performance dry food that keeps them in peak condition."
The operations that the Theatre Military Working Dog Support Unit carry out in Afghanistan are vital to the operational effort. The bond between dogs and their handlers is plain to see.
The different breeds ensure specific functions are covered and the training they receive ensures they are in total harmony with their handlers.
The equipment they use in Afghanistan has been designed to withstand the environment. 102 MWD Squadron will remain in Afghanistan for six months when, at the end of HERRICK 15, they will return to Sennelager, Germany.
By their very nature the dogs bring smiles and a touch of normal life to those they protect. They are by no means domestic pets, but do enjoy a cuddle, a pat, or a rough of the neck now and again. They are in fact still 'man's best friend' in Afghanistan.
LAST POST AT NEWTON - THE LIFE OF ROYAL AIR FORCE NEWTON.
This book takes you on a journey from construction in the late 1930s through to the ultimate closure in 2001. Along the way, read about the wartime years, the rescue of a Wellington Bomber crew from the ice cold North Sea, the post-war missile training era, the Vulcan landing and Josef Warchal's amazing jorney from Poland across war torn Europe to RAF Newton.
First (collectors) edition was published in November 2008. Second (revised) edition published in August 2009 and the Third (revised) edition published in September 2010.
Hardback (size 175 x 245mm)
Over 200 illustrations, photographs, paintings and pen drawings.
Foreward by Group Captain C B Sid Adcock (Ret'd) the Last Station Commander, RAF Newton 1993-1995.
Introduction by Group Captain Hugh F O'Neil (Ret'd) No 12 Group HQ, Newton 1947-1950.
I am able to negotiate a reduced price on this book which normally sells at £25 + £5.50 postage. The author Tim wishes to support me in my fund raising for Help for Heroes (Charity No 1120920). The Royal Air Force Police Dog Handlers' charity Project has raised money at all of the QPD Reunions held in 2008, 2009 & 2011. We have been granted Charity of the Year status by Help for Heroes. This means I am fund raising from September 2011 - September 2012. (This will be renewed each year). I have been working on numerous exciting initiatives which will enable me to offer all the RAF Police Family a range of items donated by businesses large and small at attractive rates. This will give the businesses and more importantly Help for Heroes an income stream.
If you are interested in the RAF Newton book please email me or call 0116 2740443. The price I am to sell the book at is £20 + £2.50 postage. (It is hoped based on interest shown to be less). The Author has a book about the history of RAF Syerston coming out approximately February 2012. I will keep you informed when published.
Tim is also a member of The Guild of Aviation Artists, please look at his website as I am also in negotiations to be able to sell his prints at very attractive prices.
Any specific print that you are interested in please let me know.
HERO WAR DOG IS BOW WOWING OUT
Air Dog Buster is retiring after braving bombs and bullets on five operational tours /RAF
class="fb_edge_widget_with_comment fb_iframe_widget" font="" href="http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/275593" show_faces="true" width="300">
By John Ingham
SITTING proudly to attention, displaying a row of campaign medals on his chest, this RAF veteran is a military hero.
But now Air Dog Buster is retiring after braving bombs and bullets on five operational tours.
The nine-year-old English springer spaniel saw active service on two tours of Bosnia and two of Afghanistan, fitting in a few months in Iraq in between.
The arms and explosives sniffer dog lives with his handler, RAF Police Sergeant Michael “Will” Barrow, 45, and his wife, Tracy.
RAF Police Sergeant Will Barrow with Buster during service in Iraq /Chris Davison/RAF
But he is not turning his back on military life – Buster will be the RAF Police mascot and already has the ceremonial black and red coat.
The nine-year-old English springer spaniel saw active service on two tours of Bosnia and two of Afghanistan
During service in Bosnia he made significant finds of illegal weapons and explosives and in Afghanistan’s Helmand province Buster saved countless lives by sniffing out explosive vests which led to the arrest of two suicide bombers.
He also repeatedly went out on foot patrols through the poppy fields hunting for insurgents and the Taliban weapon of choice: improvised explosive devices. Will said: “During one foot patrol we came under attack from the enemy.
“Although the contact was short-lived, it was extremely noisy. But Buster remained calmly by my side, totally unfazed by the actions going on around him. After the event, the patrol continued and Buster carried on his work, wondering what the fuss was about.”
He said this happened on several occasions, adding: “Each time, Buster waited calmly for the action to cease, then carried on his search for improvised explosive devices, and keeping the patrols safe.
Buster enjoys his retirement from active duty as an armament and explosive search dog /PeterCorns
At night, sleep was constantly interrupted with the loud boom of mortars. Although I was often woken in a state of panic, Buster remained his calm and collected self, not batting an eyelid.”
Buster also served with the Coldstream Guards in Kabul, searching Jalalabad Road – the most bombed road in the world.
Buster enjoying a quieter life with his playmates Bradley and Josh Barrie-Marklow /PeterCorns
Now he is at home in Cranwell, Lincolnshire, with Will and Tracy, who is also in the RAF Police, and their two dogs – another springer spaniel and a German shepherd.
Will, who is based at nearby RAF Waddington, said: “We had to teach Buster to play with the other dogs. When he was a working dog he only got toys when he made a find.
Buster is enjoying being at home with his family after his RAF duty /PeterCorns
And when he came home he collected up all the dogs’ toys and became very protective of them.”
Buster is also popular with the children of Will’s colleagues – such as seven-year-old Josh Barrie-Marklow. Will said: “He is certainly in the top three of the dogs I have worked with.
Despite his medals, Buster like any dog is at home on the sofa with a cuddly toy /PeterCorns
“I had one in Bosnia which has the record for the number of finds by a military working dog and another who was the best search dog. But Buster is right up there.”
Now he is retired Buster has plenty of time to frolic in the fields /PeterCorns
Buster, right, with some pals /PeterCorns
Our esteemed friend and collegue, Dave Rem, died on 31/5/11, with a whole host of ex doggy lads attending his cremation in Darlington. I was with Dave on the day he passed away and he had a long standing ambition which he has passed on to me to fulfill.
Dave had, over the years, collected and had written down a few hilarious stories surrounding the RAF P Dog world as he had known it.
His intention was to have these memoirs published. A fter his death, I began trying to knock into shape the stories he had written and had left behind in a carrier bag for me.
However, as I have advised his daughter, Sarah, there really is insufficient material to compile a book as such; as had Dave wished in our conversations together over the years.
Could I extend a request through the RAFP web site for ex dog lads to supply Dave`s book with any funny stories they can remember happening that involved our dogs, handlers, instructors etc.
The tales do not have to necessarly include Dave himself. Just give me the story facts and I will fit them in. I promise that the GUILTY shall no way be HIDDEN from being named.
I have already received some from Mick Chidgey and Jack Johnstone and a couple from myself. however, this is Dave`s book and not mine. Please send me your tales, Guys.
Award winning RAF Police Dog at Spalding
Buster a special RAF dog
Buster is making a special appearance at the front of the shopping mall at Springfields Outlet Shopping in Spalding with members of the Springfields Charity of the Year, The Royal British Legion on Sunday 14th August.
RAF Police dogs provide an essential force protection component to military operations worldwide. Since 1945, RAF Police dogs have been employed in the protection of airfields and military assets, the recovery of evidence, public order, the detection of drugs and anti-terrorist operations.
On an operational front, RAF Police dogs have served or are currently serving in Singapore, Aden, Hong Kong, Northern Ireland, the Falkland Islands, Bosnia, Kosovo, Gibraltar, Cyprus, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Air dog Buster, an arms and explosives search dog, has five operational tours under his collar. He joined the military in September 2005 and after training started duties in Scotland. In September 2006, he deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina in his first operational role. His duties here included searching for illegally held weapons & explosives within the local populous. He had a number of significant finds, thus helping to make this volatile country a safer place.
In September 2007, Buster was deployed to Afghanistan with his handler, Sgt Michael Barrow, where after a few days they were sent to the now infamous Helmand Province. They went on many missions including both foot & armoured vehicle patrols of the area in search of insurgents.
Next Buster went to the Capital City of Kabul & teamed up with the Coldstream Guards. Although not as intense as Helmand in terms of shooting incidents, one of Busters tasks was to search the Jalalahbad road, often described as 'the most bombed road in the world' & where the threat of suicide bombs is very real. Although a very tense situation for soldiers, Buster once again carried out his tasks with great professionalism.
Buster was then sent to Iraq in March 2009 where he was needed immediately to ensure that the convoys leaving Basrah for Kuwait had a safe passage. This he did until the withdrawal of British Troops in May 2009.
Once again, Buster faced 6 Months in Cyprus, but during this time, he was once again required to step up to the mark, when one of his K9 colleagues failed to make the grade in Afghanistan. He was flown out & teamed with another handler, Corporal Simon Pound, & carried out five months searching the thousands of vehicles entering Camp Bastion. A vital task ensuring that insurgents do not have the opportunity to place a large explosive device amongst the thousands of troops & mission critical equipment that are housed there.
Buster once again returned to Cyprus and finally arrived back on home soil in June 2010
Canine VIP visits Spalding
BUSTER the arms and explosives sniffer dog, a decorated veteran of four overseas campaigns, will be meeting and greeting at Springfields Outlet Shopping Centre, Spalding this weekend.
Buster will be at the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal tombola stall from noon until 2pm on both Saturday and Sunday.
After joining up and receiving extensive training in 2005, Buster was deployed first to Bosnia, then to Afghanistan for a first tour in 2007 before ensuring the safety of departing British Army convoys from Basrah, Iraq in 2009.
Buster’s final mission was with the RAF Police for his second visit to Afghanistan.
The Poppy Appeal stall is at Springfields for the next three weekends
8 August 2011 I have been informed that there will be NO RAFP Dog Trials this year due to work commitment
Operational Dog Training
02 August 2011
Corporal Robert Smith, Royal Air Force Police Dog Handler, and Air Dog Billy from RAF Marham take part in a training exercise on Salisbury Plain.
Designed to prepare Army troops heading for Afghanistan, Cpl Smith talks about the role of the RAF Police on Operation HERRICK and his work alongside colleagues from other Services.
Training on Salisbury Plain.
Cpl Smith and Air Dog Billy.
Photography: Sergeant Adrian Harlen/Andrew Linnett/MOD Crown Copyright 2011.
Top dogs keep Air Tattoo safe
A QUARTET of black Labradors from the RAF Police are doing their bit to keep the Royal International Air Tattoo safe.
The canine crew, complete with RAF Police Dog Handlers, are working at this weekend's airshow at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, carrying out search duties of the venue and the VIP areas, and also being used in vehicle searches as visitors enter the public car parks.
Cpl Adrian Dickson from RAF Lyneham, who's teamed with Airdog Louise, says: "I came here as a visitor many years ago but this is the first time I've officially worked here. The team arrived on the Sunday and we've been busy for the last few days."
He adds: "Louise is a Vehicle Search Dog, while the other three – Airdog Zoom with Cpl Ian Short from RAF Brize Norton; Airdog Kudos with Cpl Marc Shakespeare from RAF Northolt; and Airdog Hugo with Cpl Dave Tansley from RAF Lyneham – are Arms Explosive Search Dogs, but we work together in all areas of the showground."
To date Cpl Dickson reports that everything's looking good for the weekend show, and visitors can rest assured that this quartet of Top Dogs (and their handlers) will be doing their best to ensure the event stays safe and spectacular.
Gone to the Dogs
Gone to the Dogs
Gone to the Dogs. Proving that he remains at the sharp end – Group Captain Johnston, Station Commander RAF Kinloss volunteered to be at the receiving end of some RAF Police Dog Training in return for Station personnel donating lots of cash for the Royal British Legion.
The Station Commander said: “This was rather daunting but all in a good cause and I’m extremely grateful to all who donated money and came out to support this event. It is wonderful that even during drawdown Station personnel are so willing to both think of and give for others.”
Left to right: Station Commander and Airdog Cato.
Sgt Calum Macaskill; Cpl Kat Sullivan and Airdog Cato; Group Captain JJ Johnston and Cpl Tony Rowe.
Corporal relishes role with special dog unit
10:10am Friday 24th June 2011
AN AMMANFORD soldier based in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province has been talking about his work with sniffer dogs trained to detect potentially lethal roadside bombs.
Corporal James Royffe, 25, serves at Camp Bastion, Helmand, where he is part of the Theatre Military Working Dogs Support Unit (TMWDSU).
The former Amman Valley Comprehensive schoolboy joined the RAF Police in 2007.
"I always wanted to combine police work with dog handling and the RAF has given me the perfect platform to do this," he said.
Before joining James worked as an administrator at Swansea prison and his father Ron and sister Samantha still live locally. "My job here along with my dog Si Yu is to work with the Royal Engineers to help find Improvised Explosive Devices. I get a lot of satisfaction from my job as I am helping to save lives."
"The RAF has given me the chance to go trapeezing, abseiling, rock climbing and so much more. I have also had the opportunity to play football for the Military Working Dog Regiment.
One of his most memorable experiences was in 2008 during the 90th Anniversary of the RAF.
"I had the chance to march in front of the Queen along with 800 other people, which was one of the largest parades the RAF has participated in," he recalled.
The Cenotaph – 13 th November 2011
At the Cenotaph this year there will be a noticeable addition to the dress of some of our marchers. This will be as a mark of respect for those Dog Handlers, and their dogs that, whilst serving in previous and on going war zones under very dangerous conditions, have died or been seriously injured, be they from Army Dog Units or from the RAF Police Dog Units. Those of our members, who were former Dog Handlers and who wish to do so, will wear the approved service Rope Lead over their shoulder during the parade. WO Bill Veazey will ensure uniformity should this be needed. John Walton, who has organised each Cenotaph parade to date, will add this news to the notes he submits to the organising committee and which is normally handed on to the BBC. registered
It is believed that this sensitive and emotive act will be readily understood and appreciated by all service personnel and the general public. So, setting aside the well-known banter we have heard and enjoyed amongst the various specialisations in our trade group, let us give our wholehearted support to our QPD colleagues, old and new, along with all RAF Police wherever they are serving in these troubled times.
Flintshire firm Wagtail UK on the trail of bats in Portugal
by Mark Dowling, Jun 2 2011 Flintshire Chronicle
A DETECTION dog company has joined forces with a Portuguese bio-technology firm to help solve a mystery.
Holywell-based Wagtail UK used six-year-old springer spaniel, Twister, to see if wind turbines are inadvertently destroying bat populations on the other side of the Mediterranean.
Wagtail was working with Bio3, based in Almeida, near Lisbon, which has developed a system for accurately estimating the impact of windfarms on colonies of protected species of bats.
But first it needed to find if bats are dying where windfarms are sited – and Twister has been trained to find their bodies.
Louise Wilson, a director of Wagtail UK and head of training, said: “We need to establish whether bats are dying at windfarms, and Twister can do that.
“If there are dead bats there, Twister will find them.”
Bio3 scientists are now keen to promote and support the work Wagtail is doing.
Miguel Mascarenhas and colleague, Hugo Costa, visited the UK to explain the company’s methods to the energy industry.
They also hope to use Wagtail’s expertise in Europe. “We have been very impressed with what we have seen at Wagtail,” said Mr Costa.
“Their methods and facilities are excellent and we know they can train dogs to find bats or anything else.
“We would be happy to work with them and recommend them to the energy industry.”
With the growth in wind technology Louise, 28, sees the use of dogs as the way forward for wildlife surveys.
She said: “Wind farms have to run surveys to show that bats and birds aren’t being killed and Twister is available here in the UK and he’s quicker, cheaper and much more efficient than using people.”
Wagtail was founded by ex-RAF police dog handler Collin Singer in 2003 and trains dogs for a range of duties, including work with the UK Border Agency.
The company also trains dogs in drug and explosive detection and has been widely used by police forces in England and Wales.
For more information about Wagtail and the use of conservation dogs within the UK, contact Louise Wilson on email@example.com or go to www.wagtailuk.com.
some pictures of the Dog Handlers Reunion 2011
LEADING LIGHTS: Some of the RAF dogs on the parade ground in Hull after the Second World War. Brenda is second left with Ronald Shipp .
kindly sent by the Hull Daily Mail, photographer, Nigel Fisher
The RAF paid proper and lasting tribute to “The Few” – brave fighter pilots in their Hurricanes and Spitfires, who staved off invasion of Britain by seeing off Germany’s much-vaunted Luftwaffe in 1940, chiefly over the skies of southern England and the Home Counties.
However, following the defeat of Hitler’s Nazi regime in 1945, the RAF paid a second tribute to “The Few” – and this time it took place in Hull.
Honoured with a march through the city, certificates and a high-profile presentation ceremony were the faithful patrol dogs of the RAF
One of those certificates has survived down the years and was brought in to Flashback by reader Alan Shipp.
His father, Ronald, was a warrant officer in the RAF and is seen in today’s main picture, second left, with his patrol dog Brenda during the city centre parade in 1946.
The certificate was awarded in grateful recognition of Brenda’s loyal and faithful service.
She showed tireless effort and constant devotion to duty “willingly rendered to Britain and all the free peoples of the world in time of war” – according to the top brass in Whitehall.
The certificate carries the signature of the Provost Marshall, Chief of Royal Air Force Police.
With Brenda’s certificate came a covering letter from the officer commanding, based at the Air Ministry in London.
It said: “Although the work done by these animals has been mentioned publicly from time to time, few people who were not actually in touch with them know of the extraordinarily valuable service which they performed.
“Night after night, over a period of years, vital RAF property and equipment in isolated situations was safeguarded by them and their handlers in a manner, and with efficiency and economy in manpower, which would have been impossible by any other means.
“Theirs was one of those essential jobs which had to be carried out in terms of long, arduous, sometimes boring, often exacting, duties which, even though they may not have come within the public eye so much as others, were none the less an important and positive contribution to winning the war.”
The Provost Marshall, who carried the rank of air commodore, said the handlers could take great satisfaction that their dogs had done splendidly and helped in the success of the guard dog scheme within the RAF.
But where exactly did these dedicated police dogs serve?
RAF Sutton on Hull seems certain to have been one of their bases.
Flashback’s thanks go to Hans Houterman, who oversees specialist website www.rafweb.org containing details about RAF officers.
We were unable to make out the Provost Marshall’s signature on either document, but Hans soon identified him as Air Commodore O W de Putron.
A First World War veteran, he became Provost Marshal in 1942 and held the post for almost 10 years.
He introduced dogs into the RAF Police in 1943 and succeeded in having the investigation into the execution of 50 RAF prisoners-of-war following the breakout from Stalag Luft III, taken over by the RAF Police.
After the war he became Aide-De-Camp to King George VI.
Lance Corporal Liam Tasker remembered at parade
Col Neil Smith presents a campaign medal to Jane Duffy, the mother of L/Cpl Liam Tasker
THE mother of a soldier killed in Afghanistan was presented with a medal yesterday alongside his colleagues.
Troops from 104 Military Working Dog Squadron, based at St George’s Barracks in North Luffenham, who were presented with their service medals yesterday following their six month tour in Afghanistan.
The soldiers remembered their colleague and friend L/Cpl Liam Tasker, who was killed while on foot patrol near Camp Bastion on March 1. His Springer Spaniel cross Theo died of a seizure the same day.
Prior to the parade, there was a private service at Edith Weston Church in memory of L/Cpl Tasker.
The 45 troops and four RAF police dog handlers, who arrived back on British soil last Tuesday, marched out shortly after 11.30am. They were led by the band of the parachute regiment, onto a bright parade square. They were flanked by four Springer Spaniels on each corner, who walked to heel.
Crowds of family and friends gathered at the edge of the square in Army green marquees.
L/Cpl Tasker’s family, including his mother Jane Duffy, were among the crowds.
The head of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps Col Neil Smith was led along the three rows, shaking the soldiers’ hands and clipping the medals to their jackets.
He was then led to L/Cpl Tasker’s family, where Col Smith pinned the medal to Mrs Duffy’s jacket. The rest of the family hugged and there were tears from the watching crowds.
At the podium Col Smith praised the troops for an “arduous but successful tour”.
He said: “Every one of you should be so proud today, knowing you really delivered.
“It is a day with great sadness. L/Cpl Liam Tasker was a real star, and together with Theo, exemplified the capabilities of this squadron.”
Army dog handlers receive Afghanistan medals
7 Apr 11
Soldiers from 104 Military Working Dog Squadron, part of the 1st Military Working Dog Regiment, were honoured in front of proud families and friends on Wednesday 6 April 2011, when they were presented with their Op HERRICK campaign medals.
The family of Lance Corporal Liam Tasker, a member of the squadron who was tragically killed in Afghanistan, were presented with his medal alongside his colleagues at St George's Barracks, North Luffenham.
Lance Corporal Tasker was taking part in a patrol with his dog, Theo, when they were engaged by small arms fire, during which he was struck and died from the injuries he sustained. And sadly, on returning to Camp Bastion, Theo suffered a seizure and died.
The squadron and four RAF Police dog handlers deployed to Afghanistan in support of 16 Air Assault Brigade.
Together with their military working dogs the squadron's role was to provide protection and search capabilities as well as helping to clear routes, buildings and vehicles.
The highly-trained dogs and their handlers carried out tasks that included patrolling the bases where fellow British soldiers were based, searching vehicles at checkpoints and going out on patrols on the front line to search for weapons, ammunition and explosives.
Colonel Neil Smith, the head of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, who presented the campaign medals, paid tribute to Lance Corporal Tasker and congratulated the dog handlers on an arduous but successful tour. He said:
"Lance Corporal Liam Tasker was a real star and together with Theo exemplified the ethos, character and capability of Royal Army Veterinary Corps handlers and their dogs.
"Every one of you can be very, very proud of what you have achieved in the last six months. Because of what you did, and I certainly include Lance Corporal Tasker in this, there are people, soldiers, who are alive today.
"There are people, soldiers, Afghan security forces and Afghan civilians who owe their lives and lack of injury to what you and your dogs have achieved."
The squadron was also presented with a commendation from Commander of Joint Force Support (Afghanistan), Brigadier Alister Davis, for its distinguished service in support of Op HERRICK.
Officer Commanding, Major Caroline Emmett, who received the commendation on behalf of the squadron, said:
"All the soldiers can be proud of what they have achieved; they have demonstrated professional skill and courage and are a credit to themselves and the Army."
104 Military Working Dog Squadron is one of five squadrons that together form the 1st Military Working Dog Regiment. The regimental headquarters and three of its squadrons are based in Sennelager. The regiment also has a squadron in Aldershot.
The regiment comprises 284 soldiers and officers and about 200 dogs.
In the company of...Collin Singer, MD of Wagtail in Holywell
by Martin Williams, DPW West
COLLIN SINGER can sniff out a business opportunity a mile away. It was a combination of compassion and expertise gained during a career spanning almost 25 years in the Royal Air Force as an operational explosive dog handler that led to him setting-up Wagtail UK eight years ago.
Since then, he and his 22-strong team have been training and supplying canines for the detection of firearms, explosives and drugs from the firm’s base in Flintshire.
Specialist dogs trained at the company’s headquarters near Holywell have been put to work in countries including Iraq and Saudi Arabia, where the animals are typically used to search vehicles entering construction compounds to prevent terrorists smuggling in and detonating bombs.
And he is now branching out into more exotic species, with Wagtail recently sent to South Africa to search out cheetah excrement.
The 49-year-old, from Deeside, is married to Margaret and has a 21-year-old son, Paul.
A keen Evertonian, he planned on a career in the Toffees’ midfield but soon decided a more business-related path was suited to him.
“I left Connah’s Quay High School at 16, worked for two years as a carpet fitter and then left because I had to work on Saturdays and couldn’t get to see Everton play,” Collin told Business Post.
“I joined the RAF police and never got to see them, but I did want to work with dogs and trained as a police dog handler. That said, I never thought at that stage about starting my own business.”
It was the truly horrific images of the World Trade Centre’s collapse at the hands of terrorists that made Collin sit up and take notice of how and why Wagtail might be a good idea.
“I left the RAF in June 2003 and started the company, but I had a plan in mind since September 11 2001,” he said.
“That was the game-changer because I was an explosives dog handler and realised then that the RAF had given me the skills and that terrorism was going to be a major threat, and drugs weren’t going to go away either.”
After a hands-on period on the front line Collin now goes to work in a suit and spends more of his time at meetings than getting his hands dirty.
The switch has enabled him to significantly grow the company at home and abroad.
Collin said: “I am the managing director and because the business has become more successful in the last two years I have less of a hands-on role now.
“I spend more time overseeing the operation and wearing a suit liaising with clients.
“There are very few average days because I could be in France or London or I could be out with the dogs training.”
He added: “The last 12 months have seen us continue to provide detection dogs for the Channel ports in northern France, searching for illegal immigrants on lorries and in containers and we have also done some high profile security work at venues like Wembley, Lord’s cricket ground and for the police.
“However, we are also developing dogs to work in the ‘green’ sector, finding evidence of endangered species both at home and abroad.
“My co-director Louise Wilson has twice been to South Africa to train dogs to find cheetah poo.”
Because of the sensitive nature of Wagtail’s work, they won’t disclose exactly where its base is.
However, Collin would admit they are always on the lookout for additional training areas such as warehouses, cinemas, theatres, shops, sports arenas and HGV vehicle compounds.
Two years ago the workforce was made up of Louise and himself, but he now employs eight people in North Wales and 14 in northern France, with plans to take on more staff in the future.
For Collin, success is not measured in profits and balance sheets, it’s the joy of making a go of the company in the first place that brings him so much satisfaction.
“And there is also the thrill of taking a dog that could have come from rescue kennels and might have been put to sleep and training it so that it could save people’s lives,” he said.
But there have been low points.
“About five years into the business when we were struggling and I was paying for Christmas on our credit cards maybe some people might have let Louise go, but it was a question of believing in what we were doing and Louise played a massive part in that,” added Collin.
“I’ve made mistakes and there are things I would do differently.
“When I left the RAF I knew I could train dogs but I’d never run a business before and it was a steep learning curve but you learn from your mistakes.
“We’ve survived by sticking to our principles, but our core business involves drugs, terrorism, explosives and detecting illegal immigrants. Fortunately, the recession doesn’t seem to affect them.”
He added: “I love every minute of what I do, I really love my job. You just can’t beat the satisfaction of training the dogs.
“When I was in the RAF I thought my job as an operational explosives dog handler was the best possible and now I sit here as MD of Wagtail UK and I still think I’ve got the best job I could possibly have.
“I’m proud of what we’ve achieved and of Louise because I’m not sure the business would have survived without her and the staff we have and the job we do.”
Long walkies to Lyneham
7:00am Sunday 3rd April 2011
A team of RAF Police officers, based at Lyneham, completed a 37-mile march for charity, along with their trusty working dogs.
They raised £14,000 and their task was all the more impressive as they did the whole hike wearing 20kg rucksacks and carrying replica rifles.
Their route took them from Tidworth to Lyneham, via Salisbury Plain and Wootton Bassett and the money raised was split between Help for Heroes and Children's Hospice South West.
The team consisted of Corporals Gareth Scutt, Chris Archard, Adele Roberts and Gary Blair along with air dogs Zeus, Jack and Campbell.
Cpl Archard said: “People have been very generous and the walk has been a bit of a rollercoaster.
“The hills seemed to be growing as we were walking up them and going through Marlborough was particularly tough.”
10 March 2011
RAF Dog Handlers Pay Respect
Royal Air Force dog handlers from RAF Lyneham and RAF Brize Norton line part of the route at RAF Lyneham as the body of Lance Corporal Liam Tasker, 26, from the Royal Army Veterinary Corps passes by.
He served with the 1st Military Working Dog Regiment as an Arms and Explosives Search Dog handler and was attached to the 1st Battalion Irish Guards. Lance Corporal Tasker, who came from Kirkcaldy in Fife, Scotland was killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday 1 March 2011 when he and his search dog, Theo, were engaged by small arms fire. On return to Camp Bastion his dog, Theo, suffered a seizure and died.
Body of Fife soldier Lance Corporal Liam Tasker is brought back to Britain
The body of a Fife so ldier who was killed in Afghanistan earlier this month has been flown back to Britain, along with the ashes of his loyal dog who died just hours after him.
By Charlene Wilson
Published in the Courier : 11.03.11
Published online : 11.03.11 @ 07.17am
While Theo initially survived the attack, he died on return to the British base at Camp Bastion.
The pair, deemed "inseparable" by colleagues, were flown to RAF Lyneham in from Afghanistan on Thursday. Wiltshire
Although L/Cpl Tasker was born in , he was not educated in the area because his parents were both in the RAF and moved from place to place. Kirkcaldy
His parents — Jane Duffy and Ian Tasker, who, although separated, live in Belgium — said they wish to lay their son to rest in a military funeral at Tayport, where many of his family still live.
His uncle Billy McCord travelled from the town to join his sister Jane and Mr Tasker at the Chapel of Rest at the RAF base in Wiltshire, where they attended a private memorial service. Fife
Following the ceremony the cortege then passed through on its way to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Wootton Bassett . Hundreds of mourners and well-wishers lined the High Street to pay their respects. Oxford
Veterans — including members of the — also stood at the side of the road to pay their respects. Royal British Legion
Retired servicemen and women from the (RAPA) also turned out as the cortege left the motorway to enter Oxford. Royal Airforce Police Association
RAPA spokesman Mike Lester said, "We wanted to attend to pay our respects to L/Cpl Tasker because we also have in our association and we felt it was the right thing to do. dog handlers
"Our local priest very kindly allowed us to use the church car park so we could stand by the side of the road and greet the cortege as it arrived in Oxford."
Mr Lester added that standard bearers from the and the RAF Police Association laid a wreath in tribute to L/Cpl Tasker at the memorial of the army dog unit Northern Ireland, Royal Army Veterinary Corp at the National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas, Staffordshire. Royal Military Police Association
L/Cpl Tasker's family could not be contacted yesterday — but his uncle Mr McCord recently paid tribute to his nephew, describing him as "an incredibly likeable young laddie."
He said he was only four weeks away from finishing his deployment and that his family were very excited about him returning home on leave.
He also spoke of the love his nephew had for his dog, saying he would have been happy to have Theo by his side.
"He actually said at one point that when he finished his tour he was not sure what would happen to his dog, and that he could be separated from his dog ... but they are not separated now."
L/Cpl Tasker was said to have a "natural empathy with dogs" and was described as a "rising star" within the dog training group.
Theo's ashes will be presented to L/Cpl Tasker's family in private.
The record-breaking springer spaniel had been praised by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for making 14 finds of hidden bombs and weapons caches in just five months.
The 22-month-old dog, on his first tour of duty in Afghanistan, had uncovered so many improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that his time in the country was extended by a month.
Theo is the sixth British military dog killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.
An inseparable pair: dog collapses and dies after army handler is killed
Tributes flow in to the British soldier who worked with his dog to defuse bombs in Afghanistan
Colleagues said army dog handler Liam Tasker was inseparable from his spaniel, Theo, and so it was to the end. When Lance Corporal Tasker was shot dead in southern , his dog survived the shooting only to suffer a fatal heart attack when it returned to the British base at Camp Bastion. Afghanistan
Tasker, 26, was on patrol north of Nahr-e-Saraj in Helmand province on Tuesday with the spaniel, which was trained to search for arms and explosives, when they were caught in gunfire. He died from his injuries.
He was described as having a "natural empathy with dogs". His successful operations "undoubtedly saved many lives", the Ministry of Defence said. The army has about 400 dogs trained to sniff out explosives and weapons but the ministry declined to say how many were deployed in Afghanistan.
Born in Kirkcaldy, Fife, Tasker joined the Royal Army Veterinary Corps after starting his career as a vehicle mechanic. A member of 1st Military Working Dog Regiment, he was attached to 1st Battalion Irish Guards in Afghanistan.
Major Alexander Turner, officer commanding 2 Company, 1st Battalion Irish Guards, said: "He used to joke that Theo was impossible to restrain but I would say the same about Lance Corporal Tasker. At the most hazardous phase of an advance, he would be at the point of the spear, badgering to get even further forward and work his dog. He met his fate in just such a situation – leading the way that we might be safe."
His girlfriend, Leah Walters, said: "LT never met anyone without touching their lives in some way. The amount of support both I and his family have received in the last day alone pays testament to this."
His family said: "He died a hero doing a job he was immensely passionate about. We are so proud of him and everything he's achieved."
Among many tributes, Liam Fox, the defence secretary, said: "From the accounts made by his military colleagues and his family, I understand that he was a dedicated and highly capable soldier, whose skills in handling dogs were second to none. He and his dog Theo had saved lives and for this, we will be eternally grateful."
A total of 358 UK military personnel have died in Afghanistan since 2001.
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County canines play key role in keeping our troops safe in Afghanistan
Freddy the springer spaniel, from RAF Waddington, at work in Camp Bastion.
COUNTY dogs are working to keep British troops in safe by sniffing out explosives. Afghanistan
Springer spaniel Freddy, who is based at RAF Waddington, searches up to 40 vehicles a day at the British base at to find evidence of bombs. Camp Bastion
He has made several finds, including a anti-personnel mine that could have killed and maimed British soldiers. Taliban
There is also a group of attack dogs, which protect the base and bring down intruders. They are trained to incapacitate.
RAF Police Corporal Adam Casey, 25, also from Waddington, works on the Bastion gates monitoring the people who pass on to the base.
He said: "The dogs are very important to the safety of the camp. They can find any explosive component of an IED and anything that's touched something to do with explosives."
This photo of Phil Cracknell and some of the team. It's from the 1973 demonstration team taken at RAF Debden. From the left should be Dick Lake but photo got wet and i lost him off the edge. Back row Sgt Keith Kendall, Pilot Off.Mike Thornton, Cpl Howard Hennon, Front row Cpl's Fred Hammond, George Robbins, Phil Cracknell, Graeme Hudson, Kevin Fitzgerald.
From Chris Whyman
On a Forum thread, someone asked for pictures of 8240 Air Dog Kally at Debden, 1974. Well, here she is !
She was a bit of a "sympathy" case in that I (the Dog Collector) could not bear to see her remain chained in filth in a "travellers" camp and decided that (if she displayed the slightest usable trait) she was bound for RAF Debden.
She displayed some qualitities which I believed justified that she be given a chance. Kally was collected into the Service on 9 July 1974. But I had not considered the fact that she might be pregnant.
On 26 July 1974, she gave birth to 9 pups.
(As far as I am aware, she was the last ever "serving" Air Dog to have pups.)
After weaning her pups, Kally justified the fact (that I gave her a chance) by completing training and being
posted as an operational RAF Police Dog.
Seperate subject as we now look at some pics taken at RAF Newton in the Winter of 1979.
R.A.F. DOGS (aka RAF DOGS) (beware - other Colour Pics share this title) video newsreel film
From Al Shean
Ken Godfrey has sent me the attached photograph for inclusion in 'The Notebook', with a note 'where are they now?'
The photo depicts: Ken Godfrey (centre) with A/D 3913 NERO. On his left, BRIAN SLAMMAKER and on his right, GORDON ROSS.
The photograph was taken at RAF CARDINGTON during 1956/7.
I will forward any info onto Ken.
We manufacture and supply to Police Force’s across Europe and USA the innovative 'Road Refresher' ( ). This Non Spill Pet water bowl which is also used by non other that President Obama, has revolutionised it's sector and has become one of most popular pet products of all time. www.RoadRefresher.com
The Road Refresher™ is perfect for the Police Dog sections because no matter how fast you drive it WILL NOT spill, which means that your dogs will arrive refreshed and ready for action. This is because the inner section of the bowl has a ‘false floor’ eliminating all spills whilst limiting the dog to only one mouthful at a time, reducing slobber by up to 90%.
The product has received widespread media ('Dragons Den', 'Dragons Den - Where are they now?', 'BBC Breakfast', 'GMTV', 'Send in the Dogs', 'Reuters News International') and editorial coverage (‘The Sun’, ‘The Mirror’, ‘The Financial Times’) making it the most successful and effective Non Spill dog bowl on the market.
The product is a rapidly growing global brand and as well as being used by the UK Police Dogs, it is now used in the USA by the search and rescue dogs used in the 911 disaster.
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The above video has a 60 second advert period before the Road Refresher is played
BBC News President Obama Clip
US 'roadtest' of our product.
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ADUNI Memorial Dedication (6 Sep) DVD now available
RAF Police Dog Handlers/Kennelmaids and Friends Reunion 2009 pictures (19 June)
After hearing of the sad passing of Keith Laydon, I was wondering if it would be possible to put this photo on the Website.
It pictures the Police Section at RAF West Raynham taken 1980/81. In the background can be seen an 85 Sqn Bloodhound missile.
We were a small and close little Section, and had a lot of fun, (Barry Hollyoak could tell a few tales I know!)
Keith Laydon was my first Dog i/c and was a great teacher and dog man.
Whilst I was on permanant days the NCO i/c Dog Section RAF Steamer Point got me to cement up the cracks in the broken walls to deter ticks between the spells of tracking excercises I was doing. I didn't have the heart to tell him he didn't know what he was talking about.
X Group Aden 1963-1965 Khornmaksar
Were you a doggie man at the above at anytime?
If so, please contact roy buttle at firstname.lastname@example.org - Handler to the infamous 4323A/D Rex
Many thanks in advance
Yours truly at the back (centre) and others in the photo include (in no particular order ---- so, can you spot them ?) :-
Pete Somerville, Ken Hack, Terry McHaffie, Clive Gilmour, Dave Remnant, Mal Crookston, Bill Booth, Fred Hammond, Iain Todd, Lyn (Weed) Mandley, Dick Coulson, Denis Mew, Andy Turnbull, Phil Cracknell, Adrian Tippett, Mick Freeman, George Pace, Norrie Lakie and Tosh Thomas.
Who else can be identified ? And can anyone remember the circumstances of this gathering ? Chris Wyman
Cpl F Hammond with Air Dog Sam. April 1980
Air Dog Sam was the first springer spaniel to successfully pass out of training on Cannabis only
Detection. We were trained by Sgt Bill Sanderson and Cpl John Cooper (with never a dull day as those who know them will confirm) at RAF Newton. A.D. Sam was passed out by the late Terry McCaffie and went on to continue with Cpl Cooper in the detection of Heroin. This was synthetic heroin which was a lovely shade of pink.
Sam had a love of woodland and if not kept an eye on could disappear for ages. He had a lovely nature and was truly a lovable but determined dog.
John Cooper was an instructor working with Customs and Excise, training students to handle trained dogs. Sam went on to work with an ex Royal Marine who joined Customs, also named Sam. Following pass out they were both employed at Dover, where they had a very successful career finding one of the largest concealment's in the early 80's.
Dog Handlers Reunion at RAF Netheravon in 1989.
Ken Huxtable – Frank Grimson – Jim Babb – Bev Stapleton – Mick Chidgey – Geordie Jordison – Bill Sanderson – Ted Johnson – John McWhirter
John Wardley – Eddie Heal – Andrew Dane – Jim Hogan – Harry Evans – Peter Trehane – Al Murray – John Field – Al Whitelaw – Ian Soulsbury
???????-Clive Gilmore – Red Kennedy – Paddy Lyons – Vic Jones – Dennis Cockerill – George Clapperton – Roy Jessup – Jim Dishington –
Jim Williamson – Daz Fry
Mel Price – Bill Booth – Dave Remnant – Mick Freeman – Bob Pike – Mel Owen – Dick Findlay – Andy Hamilton – Dick Coulson – Geoff Rowe
Ben Mason - Tom Crowley – Terry McHaffie - John Ancell – Viv Ancell (nee Hart) – Sheila Gilmore – Johnson – Betty Heal –Eddie Snailum
Roy West – Bob Bruce – Dave Guthrie – Tony Blakeham – Phil Andrews – Trev Figgins – Denis Mew – Andy Andrews.
Taff Davies – Cyril Mills - ???????? – Mrs Freeman - ??????? – Sue Findlay – Margaret Hamilton – Chris Coulson – Chris Rowe – Lil Wardley
Betty Mason – Brenda Mew – Mr Fricker – Maggie Owens – George Irvin – Cindy Davies (nee Rathbone) - ?????? – Mrs Snailum - ???????
Mrs Bruce – Jenny Guthrie – Rosemary Finbow
This is an incomplete photograph in the Archives.
Just a trip down memory lane for some but can anyone complete the picture with the names of the missing marked with ?????
Thanks in anticipation
From Matthew Geuyen - Cloggie
If you are the owner of one of those dangerous "FIGHTING DOGS",
and you also have a small child running around the house....
Please be warned!!!
NEVER, EVER leave the dog alone with the child !!
Under no circumstances !!!
This owner left his child behind with the dog...only for a short while...
and this is what happened.....
RAF Police Dog Handlers & Kennelmaids Reunion Souvenir CD.
Those of you that regularly enter the Forum on the Web Site, may be aware that I have produced an Instrumental CD of music for the Dog Handlers & Kennelmaids Reunion, on the12th June 2009.
All the Tracks on the CD where selected by members of the RAFPA, except one which my wife chose. I Arranged all the tunes, Played them, Recorded them, Mixed and Edited them all. One track, the last one, “QPD” I wrote especially for this CD.
There are only a limited number for sale at the Reunion so it will be on a first come first served bases. The price will be £10:00 with all the profits going to the RAFPA Designated Charities.
If you are not attending the reunion and would like to reserve a copy please e-mail me at the address below and I will send you details of how to get one. You will receive it on the Reunion day. If you will be attending the Reunion, and wish to reserve a copy just e-mail me and your copy can be collected at the Reunion. The CD label is white not pink as it looks
I thought that some of our older handlers may find the programme of the 1962 trials interesting.
Note that not only was the parent unit of the competitors listed but also the police district.
As a member of the ADU-NI Association I can update you on this topic.
The Association was formed in October last year and membership is open to those who were awarded the distinction of being awarded their 2 nd Cap Badge i.e. the Red Paw which is only ¼ inch in size and is worn to the left and above the holders ‘parent’ badge, and had been members of the unit.
The Cap Badge was authorised in 1974 by the then GOC NI to those Dog Handlers attached to the ADU NI. Although the basis of the unit was RAVC staff they were very few in number and were not normally ‘Operational’ it was down to the handlers from the 22 Regiments and Corps attached to the unit, who were out on the ground.
The Association have started on the 1 st January this year to raise funds for a memorial plaque to those handlers who lost their lives whilst ‘Operational’ and permission has been granted for it to be positioned at the National Arboretum, and for it to be dedicated in October this year on the 2 nd anniversary of the disbanding of the unit. If you look at the Association website you will see that our own memorial features as an example.
The following link will take you to the Association website:
Came across this the other day,might be of interest to guys who served at Roetgen
Dave is 65 today (15/9/08) and has officially retired and is now an OAP. He used to work in security for the Royal Bank of Scotland. I sent him a text this morning saying-
Breaking News Flash: The Royal Bank of Scotland has gone into liquidation. From today all Scottish old aged pensioners will have to go to England to get their Pensions.
My wife sent him a card that she made which had this photo on it.
After a lovely reunion at RAF Waddington, could not resist a walk down memory lane.
From Brian Sutton
A young Bill Allon having won the trials in 68
From Mel Price
This is my 12 year old bitch Penny at RAF Gutersloh in 1970 being taken for a ride by a young male beau. I don't think he got anything out of her do you? - Mel Price
Resettlement - Detection Dog and Security Dog Courses
We will deduct 10% off the course costs for RAFP. For details please email or telephone us. Regards Collin Singer Wagtail UK Hi Steve thought the attached pictures might arouse some interest.
The section at Heraklis consisted of only five dogs ,and as can be seen we did rather well at the 63 Trials.
Please see attached photos one of which is AD Gandalf recently mentioned on the message board. The photo includes myself as was then, Cpl Merv Appleton and AD Gandalf, Sgt Norrie Lakie being presented to The Princess Royal .
Came across this b&w photo, The Princess Royal took a shining to Gandalph that's for sure.
This photo is a 2 man attack at RAF Gib c1978 during a charity display. I'm in the suit but I cannot recall the names of the handlers.
RAF Police Dog Trails - Kai Tak and Seletar - 1958 programme from Mitch
Hi Everybody,Your Secretary, Dave Wardell and myself are in the process of compiling a colour supplement of the 2007 Dog Trials. We probably have enough photographs, although we wouldn't say no to anymore but we would like to ensure that the facts and figures are correct.
In the official programme it showed that 1963 and 1974 were blank years, no trials held. Well we have established that there was a trial in 1963, we have the winners name, dogs name and the unit they were serving on, but are still trying to establish what happened or not in 1974.
If anybody remembers, or indeed knows for sure what did or didn't happen to the trials in '74, or if you know somebody who might know!!!!!! if you could let us know, asap please as the supplement will be going out with The Griff. thanks in anticipation, Mitch
2007 RAF Police Dog Trials
2006 RAF Police Dog Trials - pictures
John Porsch MBE, Chairman of the RMPA, Chichester is also the owner of a specialist security company. He would like to talk to anybody who might be interested in consultancy positions. He is very interested in talking to people with specialist knowledge on dog training. If anyone is interested please contact John on
The canine contingent of the RAFP is an important piece of their history and missions. The dogs have specialised skills, work diligently, and are well taken care of. Though they don't retire with traditional pension, or are able to cash in on 401k business funding plans.
WARNING FOR THE RAF POL QPD!!
I received a phone call today from George Clapperton about a book he is writing. He asked me if I could contribute to it in any way from an ex kennelmaids point of view. Apart from supplying him with photo's, I also said I would post a wee note here to requesting any ex dog-handlers to get in touch with George or e-mail me personally and I will pass any details they need to get in touch with George. He told me he has wrote to a lot of people already (Jim Henry being one of them) but hasn't got much so far from kennelmaids. I was a kennelmaid from 1979 to 1986 and served at, apart from Newton, P & S.S. Rheindahlen up to my discharge. If anyone can contribute towards George's book it would be very much appreciated.
Finally, are there any kennelmaids in this group apart from me?? Take care - Liz Rush (nee Waugh ) Ljakrush@btinternet.com
' The story of the RAF Police Dogs ' by Steve Davies
Is this a dog handlers wife?? has been asked
the reply has come back:
You have got it wrong mate,the photo must be a provost or Station policemans wife who wished she had married into the cream of the RAF Police (Dog Branch)
Sad but probably true.
Please forgive the intrusion ...my name is Tom Newton and I though you may be interested to learn, that I'm about to add an article on the history of the RAFs Police Dogs, kindly written for my page, by your own Stephen Davies, for: K-9 History: The Dogs Of War!
Below is the url for what will eventually become the new RAF Police Dog history page, once it is published; I thought, that perhaps you may wish to add a link to it on your page, for your former RAF K9 membership.
Oh, by the way, I was a former U.S.A.F. K-9 handler at Hahn AB, West Germany, back in the early sixties.
Also, and I realize it is alot to ask, I would like to please request the use of a few of your own K9 photos; Mr. Davies has use quite a number of names within his article, that I believe match up with quite afew of
your own photographs.
I have some current RAF dog photos, that I can use on the page, but it might be nice to use some of your older ones to illustrate the piece; that is, if you don't mind, I would apprecaite it.
Thank you for your consideration!
ps: I realize, that you're Royal Air Force, but by any chance do you know, if the Royal Marines are still using canines today? I've spent hours on their official website, and heck if I could find anything about
their current use ...other than that some British Army units do support them, but no mention of their own use of dogs today.