Winners of 'Public Choice' Award

Sunday, 19 January 2014

It's All About Treo: Life & War with the World's Bravest Dog

This year I'm going to write up a review of every book I read or at least reflect on what I've read (well I'm going to try!!). I always read great dog books & make lots of notes & highlights as I go. Yet despite this I never really seem to actually do anything with the information - other than to try & retain it & use it in my day to day dog stuff.

I do regularly use my Kindle as a reference point too. Whenever I need to check anything dog related out, I tend to refer to my Kindle library first & look back over the notes/highlights I've made.

So, rather fittingly the very first book I've read in 2014 is . . . . . "It's All About Treo: Life and War with the World's Bravest Dog"

I count myself as being immensely privileged to be able to say that I've met Dave & more important (as Dave I'm sure would agree) The World's Bravest Dog - Treo.

Dave very kindly came down to support the launch of the Retired WM Police Dog Benevolent Fund on 1st September 2013, and he brought along the star of the day Treo. Having now read the book it sounds like we were lucky Treo has mellowed in his old age!

It's not until you read "It's All About Treo: Life & War with the World's Bravest Dog" that you truly understand & realise what esteemed company we were in on 1st September. Dave & Treo aren't just your average military working dog team - they really are, in my eyes, real life heroes of our country.

I'm pretty rubbish at reading some books & if there's anything remotely sad about the book then you might as well cross it off the list right away. People have recommended books to me & my first question is always . . . . does the dog get hurt or die? If it does then sadly it doesn't reach my Kindle library!

Fortunately, I knew that Dave & Treo were alive & kicking so it made the Kindle library & I'm so glad I've been able to finally read it.

For those of you who don't know, Treo is a true hero. He was awarded the Dickin Medal for his services in Afghanistan where he saved countless lives sniffing out the Taliban's deadly & evil IED's.

It's All About Treo: Life & War with the World's Bravest Dog

One thing you cannot fail to realise when you read the book is the bond that Dave & Treo share. It's something I always stress to people when you think about working dogs, they aren't just a piece of kit or a tool in the box. The bond between dog & handler is indescribable, yet throughout the book you cannot fail to start to truly realise & understand that relationship.

"A lot of people can't understand it, but we've formed a relationship that's closer than I've had with just about any human."

It's words like these that pop up throughout the whole book from start to finish.

The story of Dave & Treo out in operations is remarkable. It's not until you read something like this book that you truly start to appreciate the type of work military dogs do out on the front line. We've all seen the recent "Don't Ditch The Dogs" campaign regarding Police Dogs & I've been extremely vocal in publishing the work Police Dogs do - but here we are now talking about dogs on another level.

Despite their invaluable work, the dogs are very much part of their handlers family. To every other person within the armed forces Treo is "just a dog", yet the bond between Dave & Treo is what drives them onto succeed. 

It's great reading the stories of success dogs like Treo have out on the front line. They're literally out there day in, day out saving the lives of countless soldiers - yet to the dogs it's all one big game. Whilst it's great reading about the work they do on the front line, for me it's great getting to read about just how close Dave & Treo are.

You can't help but get drawn into their loving partnership.

I'm a big believer in ensuring dogs have great bonds with their handlers/owners. It's something I bang on about heavily in my Blogs, so for that to come across so strongly in the book really strikes a chord with me.

I always say, don't ever let anyone tell you their dog is just a tool. If you ever needed any proof of this, then pick up a copy of this book.

"I'm talking to him as if he were my best mate, because that's exactly what he is to me. To me, such behaviour is all perfectly normal"

The working performance of a dog goes way beyond the training, it's the small things that count. It's the un-noticed jobs a handler does in the background that makes a successful team. In Police Dog work, everyone hears about someone's dog detaining a criminal or finding some stolen property. But the work of a truly successful team starts behind closed doors. 

"It's the first rule in the working dog world that only a well rested & well looked after animal will give 100%. A dog that feels uncared for will be unhappy & will work way below par"

Small things in the dog world make huge differences - it's vital to never underestimate the power of completing 'mundane' tasks when it comes to dog ownership.

"Grooming is part of keeping your dog at peak performance. As opposed to all the fun stuff we do with our dogs, grooming is the more mundane side, but it's one that keeps your animal in top form"

And Treo was just that . . . . .he was in mighty fine form!

Whilst Treo was out in Afghanistan, he was seeking out IED's, weapons & arms caches left, right & centre. Every single find from Treo has saved many lives - soldier's & civilian. The operations Treo was tasked on were dangerous, yet despite this his work never faltered.

As a result of his amazing nose & his ability to constantly outwit the Taliban, Treo soon became enemy number 1 to the terrorists in Afghanistan. The Taliban soon had "The Black Dog" in their sights & they would try anything to kill "The Black Dog".

The stories of near misses & the miraculous events that kept Dave & Treo alive are frightening.

Despite being labelled as the number one target for the Taliban, Treo AKA "The Black Dog" continued to find hidden explosives. 

One of the things that also comes across in the book is just how far behind The States we are in terms of the way we view our working dogs. No doubt everyone has seen the huge coverage our campaign to get new laws introduced to protect police dogs has got. If you haven't - check out the link & sign the petition. "MP's Urged To Protect Police Dogs"

The UK Army are very much the same as the UK Police in that dogs are treated as pieces of equipment. The Army issues a dog with a number & they are treated the same as a metal detector.

"The Army views Treo like it does an EBEX metal detector; just another piece of kit. Treo is Military Working Dog number 5840, and he's got a chip inserted under the skin to say so"

The very fact that dogs are treated as equipment affords them no protection out on the front line. If the Taliban are trying to kill Treo then effectively they are just trying to destroy a bit of military equipment . . . . technically speaking of course!

Yet the American's have other ideas . . . . and rightly so! Dave is chatting to an American soldier . . . 

"I ask what the rules of engagement are concerning US working dogs. He stares at me like he doesn't understand the question. I tell him how the British Army sees Treo as just a bit of kit, as a number. I explain how we're not supposed to shoot to defend my dog. Chavez shakes his head in utter amazement. 'No, man, no way! Your dog Treo - he's a dog soldier"

Here we sit as a 'Nation of Dog Lovers' yet we're not allowed to protect out military working dogs out on the front line. We're expected to allow the Taliban to attack our military working dogs & act as if they're trying to knock out a bit of kit like a metal detector.

The world's gone mad!!! I really don't understand how we can perch ourselves on a pedestal as a 'Nation of Dog Lovers'. We're MILES behind other nations.

"US Marine Corps they're drilled to treat dogs as another soldier, and to view him or her as being one rank higher than their own.

He's Sergeant Treo to them, and that in part explains how they've reacted to any aggression or threat shown to my dog. For them, it's akin to someone abusing a Marine Corps sergeant, and that of course would never happen without instant & significant retaliation"

We seriously need to have a long, hard look in the mirror in the UK. The Taliban can attack a military working dog & face no retaliation. A criminal in the UK can attack a Police Dog & it's viewed the same as them kicking a fence panel. Something really is amiss!

If you don't think this should be the case - sign our petition!!!

The book is awash with stories of Treo's finds & the countless lives he's saved with his nose. Yet amongst the blood, sweat & tears, something amazing comes out of the book. Having been blown up (twice), lost friends & seen things we should not have to see, not only does Treo save lives with his nose, the very fact that he's out in Afghanistan sharing the awful moments of war pulls Dave through some of his darkest moments.

Without a true bond between a dog & their handler that would never be possible.

"I've made Treo a solemn promise that I'm going to bring him out of this alive, and I'm determined to deliver. I'll be asking him to risk his life for me & the patrol. In return I'll sacrifice myself if I have to, but they're not getting my dog"

I'd say that was mission accomplished . . . . .

Whilst you're at it folks, the talented Mr Andy Biggar helped to produce a 2014 Official Treo calendar, which are on sale via Ebay. You can still grab yourself a copy!