Spaniel Takes the Lead in Finding Hidden Weapons
Theo, a Springer Spaniel cross has been earning his keep in Helmand, Afghanistan as an Arms Explosive Search dog and now holds the record as the dog who has the most number of finds of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED’s) and weapons.
The 22-month old ‘super hero’ spaniel and his handler, Lance Corporal (L/Cpl) Liam Tasker, are part of the Theatre Military Working Dogs Support Unit (TMWDSU) based at Camp Bastion. Theo is on his first tour of duty in Afghanistan. A tour is normally 6 months, with the dogs then returning to their home at 104 Military Working Dog Squadron at MOD North Luffenham, Rutland, but Theo’s tour has been extended by one month due to his amazing success.
Before coming to Afghanistan Theo had to undergo a rigorous period of training to ensure he would meet the highest standards expected of the dogs in the TMWDSU. The first stage is 16 weeks of basic training and assessment before being given to a handler. Theo and Liam then spent 15 weeks on a handler’s course, where man and dog learn to work as a team.
As an Arms Explosive Search dog, Theo’s task is to locate weapons and IED’s. He is normally the ‘front’ man of the patrol, sniffing out any hidden devices. In Theo’s first five months of duty he has located 14 finds of IED’s and weapons caches.
L/Cpl Liam Tasker said: “I love my job and working together with Theo. He has a great character and never tires. He can’t wait to get out and do his job and will stop at nothing.”
Liam initially joined the Army as a mechanic and spent 6 years with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. He did not know the TMWDSU existed until a friend showed him some videos of the dogs in action. He decided to switch jobs and has not regretted it for a second. The unit has over 50 dogs, many of which are spaniels. They are trained as protection or search dogs. Theo was donated by a member of the public; other dogs have come from dogs’ homes or the RSPCA. All of them provide an invaluable service to the troops in Afghanistan and their work has saved many lives.