Theo, a military bomb sniffing dog, will be given a posthumous award for his bravery in war. The loyal Springer Spaniel cross died last year, a few hours after his handler was fatally shot. Lance Corporal Liam Tasker and Theo performed dangerous work in Afghanistan. The pair went on 14 missions searching out roadside bombs in the Helmand Province and in their 5 months on the job uncovered more bombs and hoards of weapons than any other British dog and handler in the conflict.
Tragically, Liam, 26, was killed in a firefight by insurgents. Theo survived and was brought back to the military base, but died only a few hours later from a seizure, likely brought on by stress. Many say he died of a broken heart.
This week, Theo received the PDSA Dickin Medal, which is the canine equivalent of a Victoria Cross. It is the highest honor an animal can receive for bravery in war. Liam was also posthumously awarded the A Mention In Despatches, one of the British military's oldest recognitions for bravery.
Colonel Neil Smith, of The Royal Army Veterinary Corps, said: "This very special dog and handler undoubtedly prevented many soldiers and civilians being killed or injured."
Liam's family were delighted to hear of the award. His monther Jane Duffy told the Daily Mail UK, "It means so much because Liam put Theo forward for the medal when he was in Afghanistan, before he was killed, because he was so good."
Update: October 25, 2012:
Theo was awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal, known as the animals’ Victoria Cross, at Wellington Barracks, London, for his 'gallantry and devotion' today. Theo made the most confirmed operational finds by any arms and explosives search dog in Afghanistan to date.
The award is said to be the highest accolade any animal can receive in recognition of devotion to duty in saving human life while serving in military conflict.
LCpl Tasker, from Tayport in Fife, was posthumously honoured with an MBE in September last year.