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Tag: british

Taliban show off captured military dog

The military dog captured by the Taliban — and shown off by his captors on a video posted on the Internet — was apparently attached to a British special forces unit.

While the Taliban identified their captive as a U.S. dog, military sources who asked not to be identified say the bomb-sniffing dog was British, and that it disappeared after a deadly firefight in Afghanistan’s Laghman Province on Dec. 23, according to the Washington Post.

Officials  at the Pentagon said it is the first time they recall a military dog being taken captive.

The British Defense Ministry has not confirmed the nationality of the dog.

In the video, the dog, believed to a Belgian Malinois, stands amid a group of heavily armed men, appearing confused at times, tentatively wagging its tail at others.

“Allah gave victory to the mujahideen!” one of the fighters says in the video, adding, in apparent reference to U.S. forces, “Down with them, down with their spies!”

The dog wears a black protective vest, which was oufitted with what the Taliban said were sophisticated electronic devices.

The video was posted on the Internet Feb. 5 via a Twitter account often used to disseminate Taliban propaganda.

A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said the dog was captured after a firefight between coalition forces and Taliban fighters in the Alin Nigar district of Afghanistan’s Laghman province in late December.

“The mujahideen valorously put tough resistance against the troops for hours,” he said. “The dog was of high significance to the Americans.”

U.S. Special Operations troops often use the Belgian Malinois, some of which have been trained to parachute and rappel with their handlers.

A Belgian Malinois was among the members of the special forces team that found and killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011.

Soldier and his dog die hours apart

Three hours after Lance Corporal  Liam Tasker was shot and killed in Afghanistan, his bomb-sniffing dog suffered a seizure and died.

Tasker, of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, was shot while on patrol in Helmand province on March 1. His bomb-sniffing springer spaniel, Theo — though not physically injured in that incident —  died three hours later.

“I would like to believe he (Theo) died of a broken heart to be with Liam,” said Tasker’s mother, Jane Duffy.

This week, as the soldier’s body came home, hundreds of mourners lined the main street to pay respects to both dog and master, the Telegraph reported.

The body of Tasker, from Kirkcaldy, Fife, and the ashes of Theo had earlier been flown back in the same aircraft.

Tasker suffered fatal injuries in a firefight with the Taliban, while Theo died after returning to Camp Bastion, the main British military base. Tasker was the 358th member of the British Armed Forces to die since operations in Afghanistan began; Theo was the sixth British military dog killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.

Theo, not quite two years old, had drawn praise for detecting 14 hidden bombs and weapons caches in just five months on his first tour of duty in Afghanistan. His  success at finding Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) led to his stay in the country being extended for a month.

Tasker was said to have a “natural empathy with dogs” and was described as a “rising star” within the dog training group. The pair were said to be “made for each other.”

Dogs have always been in Vogue

1930voguecover“The next best thing to having the world at your feet is to have a dog at your heels,” Vogue — the magazine — observed in 1930.

Since 1909, dogs have played a role in the magazine’s portrayal of all things glamorous — as companions to style icons and royalty, as inspiration for fiction, as art (both paintings and photographs), and even appearing on the cover from time to time.

Now their contribution to the magazine has been captured in a book, “Dogs in Vogue: A Century of Canine Chic.”

Author Judith Watt came up with the idea as she was sifting through 100-year’s worth of Vogue (the British edition) while doing research for a  special millennial issue in 1999.

“I came across something quite unexpected among the fashion photographs in the magazine’s archive: thousands of canines,” Watt writes in an article in the UK Independent.

In the past century, dogs have served Vogue as “companions, accessories, barely-legible scribbles, caricatures, stars of the grandest photographic portraits and of whimsical fashion illustrations. They are the subject of essays and sometimes treated as celebrities. Taken together, the best of the photographs and features provide a fascinating record of society’s changing preferences for breeds and the evolving role of dogs in women’s lives.”

“Anyone labouring under the delusion that dogs are just man’s best friend and women prefer cats will think again.”

British troops will bring their friends home

sandbagA stray dog named “Sandbag” who was taken in by British soldiers in Iraq has been transported to a safe house with his puppy in preparation for their flight to the UK.

Soldiers who adopted the dog as their mascot — he was rumored to have been shot five times by then — returned home earlier this year, according to he Daily Mail.

They were worried he would be put down by local Iraqis or killed by other dogs, but the Society for the Welfare of Horses and Ponies (SWHP) tracked down Sandbag, and his puppy, Dirtbag, around the port at Umm Qasr, near Basra, last week.

The dogs were believed to have been living on the streets for about three weeks.

The Mail reports that three armored vehicles were deployed last Thursday to rescue the dogs and transport them to a safe house in Baghdad where they will be cared for while arrangements are made to fly them to the UK.

A fundraising appeal to bring Sandbag home was launched on August 7 by the Blue Cross, a British pet charity, and the SWHP. Nearly 500 people worldwide have donated to the appeal since then.

Rescuers also found a cat the troops had befriended, named Hesco, and planned to ship him to Britain as well once temperatures cool enough to fly the animals safely to Kuwait, and then Britain.

To donate to the fundraising appeal, visit www.bluecross.org.uk.

(Photo:  Sandbag, right, relaxes with Dirtbag in Iraq)

Bringing dogs into the health care debate

drdogA British physician, writing in the Wall Street Journal, says, all in all, dogs may be privy to a better health care system than humans — at least in his part of the world.

“In the last few years, I have had the opportunity to compare the human and veterinary health services of Great Britain, and on the whole it is better to be a dog,”  Theodore Dalrymple, a pen name for British physician Anthony Daniels.

“As a British dog, you get to choose (through an intermediary, I admit) your veterinarian. If you don’t like him, you can pick up your leash and go elsewhere, that very day if necessary. Any vet will see you straight away, there is no delay in such investigations as you may need, and treatment is immediate. There are no waiting lists for dogs, no operations postponed because something more important has come up, no appalling stories of dogs being made to wait for years because other dogs — or hamsters — come first.

“The conditions in which you receive your treatment are much more pleasant than British humans have to endure. For one thing, there is no bureaucracy to be negotiated with the skill of a white-water canoeist; above all, the atmosphere is different … In the waiting rooms, a perfect calm reigns; the patients’ relatives are not on the verge of hysteria, and do not suspect that the system is cheating their loved one, for economic reasons, of the treatment which he needs. The relatives are united by their concern for the welfare of each other’s loved one. They are not terrified that someone is getting more out of the system than they.”

The only drawback to the superior care British dogs receive is they, or their owners, generally have to pay for it.

Still, even for those dogs, and owners, without means, there is the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, or PDSA, which serves as a safety net, providing free veterinary services for the poor.

The PDSA, he says, more closely resembles the National Health Service for British humans. “There is no denying that the PDSA is not as pleasant as private veterinary services; but even the most ferocious opponents of the National Health Service have not alleged that it fails to be better than nothing.”

The rest of other comparisons and conclusions can be found here.

Study blasts training methods like Millan’s

The debate raging here on ohmidog! — and in the rest of the world, too — just had a little more fuel thrown on it: A new British study says dominance-based dog training techniques such as those espoused by Cesar Millan are a waste of time and may make dogs more aggressive.

Researchers from the University of Bristol’s Department of Clinical Veterinary Sciences, after studying dogs for six months, conclude that, contrary to popular belief, dogs are not trying to assert their dominance over their canine or human “pack” and aren’t motivated by maintaining their place in the pecking order.

One of the scientists behind the study, Dr. Rachel Casey, in an interview with ABC News, said the blanket assumption that every dog is motivated by some innate desire to control people or other dogs is “frankly ridiculous.”

Read more »

Britain seeks to educate pet owners

The British government is taking a royal ribbing for distributing a list of pet care guidelines that some see as intrusive, some see as simplistic and still others see as an extraordinary waste of time.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it wanted to remind pet owners of their responsibilities under the 2006 Animal Welfare Act.

The document, which will be published as a leaflet and on Defra’s website, says owners must provide their pets with a “suitable place to live” including “somewhere suitable to go to the toilet.” It also advises cat and dog owners  to provide “entertainment” and “mental stimulation” for their pets.

Owners will not be fined for breaking the rules, but failure to comply may be used in animal cruelty prosecutions, according to a BBC article on the new guide.  (Be sure and check out the comments from readers at the bottom.)

The 26-page document on cat welfare begins with a warning to owners: “It is your responsibility to read the complete Code of Practice to fully understand your cat’s welfare needs and what the law requires you to do.”

Dog owners are given detailed instructions on ensuring their pets do not become lonely or isolated as “dogs are a social species and need the company of people, dogs or other animals”.

Bill Wiggin, the Tory spokesman on animal welfare, is quoted in an article in the Telegraph calling the new codes “absurd … Defra has missed the opportunity to produce a set of sensible proposals that would protect animals from abuse and mistreatment. Here we have this ridiculous guide which tells people not to walk their dog in the heat of the day or feed it at the table. DEFRA are taking people for fools.”

However, as an RSPCA spokesman pointed out, “A new washing machine or pot plant comes with instructions, currently most pets do not. We think the new codes of practice will improve animal welfare and prevent animal suffering through education.”

What do you think?

It is simplistic, common-sense advice, and perhaps a little heavy-handed, but as anyone who’s viewed a dog overheating in a parked car knows, a lot of people still seem to need it — on both sides of the pond.

Perhaps there should even be a companion volume for raising children.