Scottish-based former Army Explosives Search dog Keda has been voted Top Dog over five other finalists in the national competition to become the winner of The Sun’s Hero Dog Award 2018. The nine year-old year old Labrador served on active duty for three years in Afghanistan detecting IEDs, patrolling bases, searching vehicles at checkpoints and carrying out acclimatisation training with newly deployed dog handlers. Keda is now serving in another way – by helping wounded sick and injured soldiers recover from their conditions.
Keda’s story shows that Ex-Military dogs can be retained, rehomed and retrained Captain Wilkie
Keda spent her active duty in Afghanistan and was awarded the Operation Herrick service medal for her role in safeguarding countless Army and civilian lives. After returning from active duty in 2003 Keda worked at The Defence Animal Centre and after retirement, now attends Edinburgh’s Personnel Recovery Unit helping soldiers talk about their experiences to aid in their recovery.
Keda makes a big difference at the Personnel Recovery Unit based in Edinburgh helping people to settle in. Keda’s owner Capt Suzie Wilkie said that Keda reads people well, is affectionate and draws people to her and helps to give patients the confidence to attend the unit and engage more with individual treatment plans and work placements.
While on operations the dogs are housed in air-conditioned kennels, which also have heating for the cold winter nights, and each dog has a run area and covered sleeping area in their individual kennel. When based out of forward operating bases, the dogs will sleep with their handlers.
Military dogs have to complete extensive training before being deployed. The dogs work in tandem with the same handler, usually for eight or nine years before they retire. A trained dog doesn’t actually smell the bomb it deconstructs an odour into its components, picking out the chemicals it has been trained to detect. The odours are imprinted on the dog’s brain by constant repetition and reward training. All explosives search dogs are trained to sit once they’ve found explosives.
To become a dog handler for The British Army you first have to complete initial military training which will teach you how to be a soldier and then a ten-week course at Animal Centre in Melton Mowbray that includes an induction week, a Protection Handler and Practical Training Assistant course, Field Skills phase, Veterinary First Aid package and a key skills test week.
Capt Wilkie said that she was delighted at being invited to attend the award ceremony in London and is proud that Keda’s story is raising awareness and promoting the therapeutic aspect of the PRU. Capt Wilkie said “Keda’s story shows that Ex-Military dogs can be retained, rehomed and retrained and still make a great contribution to society after retirement”.
Facts about Keda:
- Nickname: Princess diva
- Loves to sleep in her owners bed
- Favourite toy: tennis ball
- Favourite treat: pig ears
- Bad habit: food thief
Keda now enjoys her time at the PRU comforting patients and enjoying long walks, belly rubs and chasing her most cherished possession, her tennis ball. If you think you are up to the job of rehoming a retired military dog please contact the Defence Animal Centre in Mowbray for further information