A British bomb-sniffing dog by the name of Theo was awarded the country’s highest award for animal bravery on Thursday. The Dicken Medal is commonly referred to as “the animals’ Victoria Cross,” Britain’s highest military honor.
According to the Associated Press, for five months, Theo, a Springer spaniel mix, worked under his handler Liam Tasker to search for roadside bombs in Afghanistan. Together, the pair had been quite a team, reports the Belfast Telegraph:
The pair, who were said to have been inseparable, detected a record 14 Taliban roadside bombs and weapons caches in five months, and are believed to have saved countless lives… Theo made the most confirmed operational finds by any arms and explosives search dog in Afghanistan to date. On one occasion, he is said to have discovered an underground tunnel leading to a room in which insurgents were suspected of making bombs and hiding from coalition forces.
Unfortunately, both Tasker and Theo died last March. Tasker was killed in a skirmish with Afghan militants while the dog reportedly suffered a fatal seizure just hours later on a British base. Theo is the 64th animal since the award’s inception in 1943 to receive the honor.
The Dicken Medal was originally established by Maria Dickin to recognize heroic animals act undertaken in war time. Though most of the winners – pigeons, horses, dogs and one cat – were awarded for service during the Second World War, the honor was later revived in 2000. The first three recipients went to three pigeons who served with the Royal Air Force in the Second World War.