It’s a story that almost seems too unbelievable to be true, but anyone who has experienced a dog’s loyalty will not doubt it for a second. Man’s best friend has played an important role in the Global War on Terrorism by sniffing out roadside bombs that would otherwise kill and maim dozens at a time.
Theo was an English Springer Spaniel who worked as a bomb detection dog for the British Army, paired with handler Lance Corporal Liam Tasker.
Helmand Province Afghanistan
Some of the most brutal fighting for Coalition forces occurred in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province. During late 2010 and early 2011, Lance Corporal Tasker and Theo encountered numerous dangerous situations while attempting to protect coalition troops from the region’s devastating roadside bombs and IEDs.
As a result, both the dog and the handler were frequently exposed as they investigated potential threats and were frequently observed by the Taliban. Despite the dangers and difficult odds of distinguishing an IED from any other piece of trash on the street, Tasker and Theo would become Afghanistan’s most successful individual working dog team by March of 2011.
They outperformed all other teams with 14 individual finds, and Theo’s tour of duty was actually extended by a month as a result. Theo was a difficult dog for command to restrain and reign in during times of danger. They didn’t think Lance Corporal Tasker was much different, because they both had an insatiable desire to get into the fight and make a difference.
The pair were on patrol in Helmand province on the morning of 1st March 2011, when 26-year-old Liam was tragically shot and killed in action. No more than a few hours later, Theo suffered a seizure and died on his return to Camp Bastion.
Many of Liam’s friends and family believe that the springer spaniel died of a broken heart.
Liam’s mother, Jane Duffy.
“At least they’re together and I take a lot of comfort from that,” she added.
Theo had set a new record for bomb finds during their time on deployment and was posthumously awarded the Dickin Medal, also known as the animals’ Victoria Cross, in 2012.
Liam was repatriated with the ashes of his beloved Theo and they were buried together in Tayport, the brave soldier and the dog lovingly described as the “little git who jumped in his sleeping bag at night.”
Rest in peace boys.