Hampshire dogs prepare to become the dogs of war

by Leanne Thompson on March 8, 2009

A crack unit of trained dogs and their dog handlers are preparing to leave their base in Hampshire and head for Afghanistan and Iraq, to help search for explosives on roadsides. The dogs, from Aldershot’s Royal Army Veterinary Corps were labelled ‘invaluable’ because of the work they do, and the lives they save in warzones.

The MOD has made significant investment in the dogs, and their training, spending £850,000 on their kennels, which are also air conditioned.

It is a dangerous life however, as only last year a dog handler and his dog were killed in action in the northern Helmand Province. Lance Corporal Kenneth Rowe was killed, along with his dog Sasha, while they were searching for explosives.

Major Steve Leavis commented:

Over the last six months both the dogs and the soldiers have undertaken extensive preparation for operations and they have been working extremely hard.

I think I speak for both the unit and the soldiers when I say that they now want to get on and do their job and then come home again.

According to the Major, the investment made by the MOD has significantly helped the dogs and their trainers prepare for war.

The new climate-control kennels will help us to better regulate the temperature that the dogs live in, meaning the dogs work better as they’re not too hot or cold.

Lance Corporal Richard Cooksey and his dog Figo are ready to ship out to Iraq:

I’m looking forward to getting out to Iraq with him and building our relationship

I think he’s one of the best dogs here, but then I would say that.

These new kennels are top-notch. The front part of each kennel is open to the elements but the dogs go through a hatch to a temperature-controlled pen, which is really good, especially in this cold weather.

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