Article: Hours after soldier killed in action, his faithful dog suffers seizure

izstigspunks

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Hours after soldier killed in action, his faithful dog suffers seizure - thestar.com
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Jill Lawless
Associated Press




LONDON—Liam and Theo were a team, fast friends doing a dangerous job — searching out roadside bombs laid by insurgents in Afghanistan.
The jovial British soldier and his irrepressible dog worked and played together for months, and died on the same day. On Thursday they came home together, flown back to Britain in a sombre repatriation ceremony for the soldier remembered for his empathy with animals and the companion he loved.

Lance Cpl. Liam Tasker, a dog handler with the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, was killed in a firefight with insurgents in Helmand Province on March 1 as he searched for explosives with Theo, a bomb-sniffing springer spaniel cross. The dog suffered a fatal seizure hours later at a British army base.

Military officials won’t go so far as to say Theo died of a broken heart — but that may not be far from the truth.

“I think we often underestimate the grieving process in dogs,” said Elaine Pendlebury, a senior veterinarian with animal charity PDSA. “Some dogs react very severely to their partner’s loss.

“The bonding that I have seen between soldiers or police and their dogs is fantastic. When you see them working together, it’s really one unit.”
A military Hercules plane carrying the body of Tasker and the ashes of Theo was flying Thursday to a Royal Air Force base in southwest England. The funeral cortege was due to pass through the nearby town of Wootton Bassett, where local people line the streets in a mark of respect each time a dead solder is repatriated. The Ministry of Defence said Theo’s ashes would be presented to Tasker’s family later at a private ceremony.

Tasker, from Kirkcaldy in Scotland, spent six years as an army mechanic before joining the military working dog unit in 2007. He felt he had found his calling.

“I love my job and working together with Theo,” Tasker said in a profile of the pair released by the Ministry of Defence before his death. “He has a great character and never tires. He can’t wait to get out and do his job and will stop at nothing.”

The 26-year-old soldier and the dog had been in Afghanistan for almost six months, uncovering roadside bombs and weapons in a dusty, dangerous daily routine.

Theo became a bit of a military celebrity last month after the defence ministry released photos and video of him and Tasker to highlight the lifesaving work of military dogs. The footage, now deeply poignant, shows Theo — energetic, ears cocked, tail wagging — alongside Tasker searching a compound for hidden explosives.

The ministry said then that Theo had been so successful, finding 14 hidden bombs and weapons caches, that his tour of duty had been extended by a month.

Tasker was the 358th British soldier to die in Afghanistan since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. Theo was the sixth British military dog killed in Iraq or Afghanistan since 2001.

There are calls for Theo to receive the Dickin medal, which since 1943 has recognized wartime bravery by animals, from carrier pigeons to a World War II commando collie.

The loyalty of some dogs to their human companions is legendary, from Greyfriars Bobby, a 19th century Skye terrier who guarded his master’s Edinburgh grave for 14 years, to Hachiko, a Japanese dog who awaited his owner’s return at a train station every day for years after the man’s death. Both are commemorated with statues.

Tasker’s father, Ian, said Theo would have been devastated by Liam’s death.

“I truly believe when Theo went back to the kennel, that that would have a big, big impact because Liam wasn’t there to comfort him,” he told ITV news.

Tasker’s uncle, Billy McCord, said the solder had been due to leave Afghanistan soon and worried about being separated from Theo.
“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,” McCord told the local Courier newspaper in Scotland. “That was preying on his mind, but they are not separated now.”
 
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izstigspunks

izstigspunks

Moderator
Sep 16, 2010
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Toronto, Ontario
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Bulldog(s) Names
The Stig Racecar Driver and (Sweet Angel) Punkin Brutus
  • Thread Starter
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  • #3
Makes me want to go home and give Stiggy a nice long hug.
 

kazzy220

..........
Jul 31, 2010
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Maggie (My Angel Baby 5/31/2012). Daddy (2 years). Linus (1year). Bella (4 years)
:*( ... I do believe that this shows the unspoken bond between a person and their dog.
 

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