In partnership with the British Army
This retired RAF police dog saved 1,000 lives while he served on tours in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Iraq to become the most decorated dog in British military history.
The 13-year-old springer spaniel, aptly named Buster, spent years on the front line sniffing out arms and explosives, and developed a world-famous nose for action, which he shares with all the other British army dogs and their handlers.
You can watch two unsuspecting civilians feel the force of an Army dog below:
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Sadly, Buster passed away, aged 13, last year at the home of his handler, Flight Sergeant Will Barrow. But not before the Very Good Boy received the unique honour of official lifetime mascot of the RAF Police.
Buster was so loved by Barrow, the veteran documented their adventures in a best-selling book. Barrow describes how Buster helped him tackle would-be Taliban bombers, saving countless lives and creating an unbreakable bond.
While you may think a day job hanging out with adorable attack doggos is a thing of myth, fantasy and your wildest dreams, actually, an MOD career in the Army Reserves might just pave the way to animal handling heaven.
Dog handlers are skilled soldiers who work with Military Working Dogs wherever the Army is deployed, and moonlight as animal lovers, obviously. Your career would start by working with Protection Military Working Dogs, like the pups in the video above.
You might then be selected to go on to handle Specialist Military Working Dogs – like Buster – that can detect arms, explosives, fleeing intruders and illegal narcotics.
As part of the Army Reserves, you’ll start with Phase 1 training, which will take place over four consecutive weekends, followed by a two-week course, or a couple of two-week consolidated courses. You’ll learn about weapon handling, range work, drill, physical training and deploy on exercise.
After Phase 1, you’ll go on to your Special Arms Training. You’ll handle and work a Protection Dog during training weekends and annual training camps, and have the chance to deploy on exercise on national or international tasks.
Later, you’ll have the chance to train as a Vehicle Search Dog Handler.
Skills training takes place at the Defence Animal Centre in Melton Mowbray and involves a 16-day residential course, learning about basic veterinary care, animal husbandry, patrolling skills and kennel maintenance.
These skills are essential if you’re to go on to join the regiment as a qualified Protection Dog Handler.
You don’t need any formal qualifications, just a good attitude towards tackling risks, outdoor pursuits, adrenaline-fuelled working days, leading a team, as well as befriending and handling some Very Good Boys.
You’ll also lean skills that civilian employers recognise such as security, driving small vehicles and veterinary work.
But, you could leave training with Level 2 and 3 Diplomas in Work-based Animal Care (QCF), as well as a lifelong bond with Man’s Best Friend.
Private Murphy, a vehicle Search Dog Handler with 1st Military Working Dog Regiment, said:
I have found my role as a dog handler extremely rewarding and satisfying. I’ve travelled to many different parts of the world including Germany, Cyprus and Afghanistan; training and getting experience in a challenging and varied role. I deployed as a Vehicle Search Handler with my Military Working Dog, Jerry, searching for arms and explosives.
You can watch Private Murphy explain his role in the video below:
There’s room to quickly move up the ranks, from Private, to Lance Corporal to Corporal, with each and every promotion garnering more pay.
All the while, you’ll receive all the benefits of Army life, like good rates of basic pay, free healthcare, and subsidised food and accommodation – not to mention the companionship of some furry, fiercely loyal friends.
To find out more, go to Army: Best The Best.
A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you’ve never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.