What happens when a military working dog come to the end of its service?
They go to a group of highly experienced dog trainers within the Canine Training Squadron. The job of these trainers is to ‘de-train’ dogs, to prepare them for possible re-homing into the civilian population.
Boris is a Belgian Malinois who has served a protection dog in Afghanistan. Having come to the end of his service, he is being re-homed this Charismas with his former handler, Lance Corporal Dianne Mclaughlin.
The trainers use techniques to relax the dogs, and make them understand that they no longer have to work. They aim to introduce the dogs to ‘Civi Street’ in a controlled and safe way, continually assessing their suitability for rehoming. Although not all dogs are suitable for re-homing, many are re-homed with ex-military dog handlers, and many are also re-homed with the general civilian population.
The process of ensuring a dog is suitable for the civilian population is very strict, and rigorous procedures are followed to ensure dogs are re-homed wherever possible. The requirements for being able to re-home a military working dog are quite strict, and there is a waiting list of applicants wishing to offer them a home.
Think of a working dog and it tends to be certain breeds - border collies on farms, German shepherds or Belgian shepherds (malinois) as police or security dogs, springer or cocker spaniels as sniffer dogs, Labradors and retrievers as guide dogs.
Military working dogs play a key role in battle, in counter-insurgency and bombs. There are dozens working in Afghanistan, helping to clear routes, buildings and vehicles as well as guarding military bases.
Sniffer dogs - often springer or cocker spaniels - who have completed years of service tend to go and live with their handler's family.
But what about the German and Belgian shepherds, which like police dogs have been trained as "attack dogs"?