happyworld - Winning Hearts Is Too Common Compared To This Labrador’s Win-win Over The Taliban

Being an important part of our lives for more than thousands of years now, dogs have owned their status as man’s best friend. They are loving, humble, smart, obedient, funny and innocent. Alright, let’s be honest here, dogs can be stubborn and hyperactive too depending on their breed, age, and upbringing. They might cause some inconvenience but dogs are family just like kids or buddies. Loyalty and compassion run through dogs’ veins as they have been known to put their lives at risk to save their owner or to grieve their owner’s death.
The incredible dog we are going to introduce you with has raised the standards higher than ever. By the end of this article, his amazing pictures and the unbelievable story will surely amaze you. So get ready to meet our new hero and most probably yours too!

BlabradorLabrador Retriever

In 2001, a black Labrador Retriever-English Springer Spaniel mix was born and named  Treo. At first, as a pup, he lived a normal life in a family house. However, Treo’s owners said that he is a rebellious personality and couldn’t be taught at home. Their complaint was regarding his furious nature towards anyone and everyone, including strangers, guests, and sometimes family members too. Treo’s owner then made a decision that will change the little pup’s life forever!
For additional information, the furious nature of pups is very common and can be easily supervised before they start behaving aggressively. If trained and pampered properly they can be molded into the kind of companion you are looking for.

Leave The Family

When Treo’s owners were completely fed-up of him as he was always overloaded with energy and gets into trouble every now and then, they decided to leave him. But unlike many irresponsible owners, they were not going to abandon him on the roads nor they were thinking to leave him in a shelter. After all, Treo was too cute to stay at any of the shelters, plus his owner wanted him to be in the right hands who can teach or train him. Treo’s family doubted that the volunteers at the shelter will be able to keep him calm. So they had to find a better option for him.

Off To The Army

Treo’s owner decided to donate the pup to the military to get him to unravel. That’s how Treo new journey started when he joined the army a completely different schedule from the rest of the ordinary pet dogs. Treo was eligible to join the army, he needed a lot of training though. The pup was all set for this distinct job. However, Treo wasn’t the first dog to get into the army he shook the world with his superpowers.

Poochs Everywhere

Dogs have been unofficially a part of most of the major wars held in human history. World War II gave dogs a rightful status in the army. Nowadays,  army’s Defense Animal Center, East Leicestershire, United Kingdom, the center for Royal Army Veterinary Corps. trains more than 300 dogs each year. Many of these dogs are donated to the army like Treo while rest are purchased on the basis of the army requirement. 
Treo, the black Labrador retriever was now up for a 4 to 6 months long training but it’s not an easy task to get going with the training.

Tough Training

The training is grueling and many dogs aren’t qualified for joining the army. Looking at Treo’s nature it was not quite certain that he’ll be selected. The dogs are trained as detecting experts to sniff off the drugs and bombs. Once they become professional in their jobs they’re assigned to different posts with a handler to look after them. Treo’s career in army seemed in doubts on the basis of his first few weeks of training but it didn’t take much time to change everyone’s mindset about him.

Remarkable Comeback

Due to his misbehavior, everyone assumed that Treo wouldn’t be able to make it till the end of the training. Not only the last couple of weeks changed everyone’s perception of him as an erratic pooch also he became one of the best professional dogs by the end of the training. This was just a training and Treo was now ready to speed up in real life and war situations.

Perfection In Detection!

Treo was now an official detection dog with his first posting in Northern Ireland. He did a tremendous work in sniffing out drugs and explosives day and night. The pooch was continuously keeping up the hard work of saving enormous innocent lives without any complaints and demands. For a couple of years, everything seemed to be fine until 2005.

Handler Retired

In 2005, Treo’s handler left him as he retired and now Treo was without a partner. Normally, dogs create strong links with their owners but Treo’s talent wasn’t hampered at all by the handler’s absence and there’s a valid reason behind it. You’ll be charmed by the heights of professionality you are about to read.

Professional Relation

They are called handlers not owners for a reason. We have already informed you about their importance for the pooch. You need to know one more information now, which is related to dog’s and handler’s emotions. In simple words, the relationship that a military dog shares with its handler for coordinating and trusting should not get any more personal. It is observed that if a dog gets too much attached to its controller, it affects the accuracy and work.
So, Treo was soon to be assigned a new handler and things were going to run at a faster rate for the young shiny black furred pooch.

An Experienced Friend

Treo, the Labrador Retriever was assigned to Sergeant Dave Heyhoe. Both Treo and Heyhoe’s accomplishments were at the top of their lists but now they were assigned as partners. They both started knowing each other which took a while at first. Who knew what was about to happen next will set up examples for the rest of us.

Experts Teamed Up

In 1986, Sgt. Dave Heyhoe became the part of the British Army’s Cheshire Regiment and had been working with the Royal Army Veterinary Corps for more than a decade. He is an expert in creating a strong connection with military dogs as he worked with other dogs in the past. Heyhoe wasn’t at all aware how this dog will change all his previous experiences with other animals.

Started Work

After gaining trust the duo started working together and continued for a few years together in Northern Ireland until 2008 when a life-changing event took place. Nothing could be done as this wasn’t our duo’s choice rather an order to be followed no matter what may come. Who would have guessed that this pair of a dog and his handler will be making history?

Deployment

Treo and Heyhoe were assigned an overseas duty, for a special mission this was for the first time that they were going to head out of their native land. Unlike Northern Ireland, this location was neither ordinary nor both of them had any experience on the new land. However, both were perfect for their job roles and the same was expected of them. They were heading to an Asian country where the war was going on, unaware of the fact that this new country will change their bond forever.

Off To Afghanistan

When the war was at the most violent stage, Treo and Heyhoe were sent to the battlefield. Treo’s role was same to sniff out the bombs. The dog was not aware of the huge role he was playing in the war and the lives he was saving and that he was an important part if they win.
If you doubt even a bit about the difference a dog can make in a war zone, we’ve got this info for you! As dogs smelling sense is 40 times more than humans and they are fast and can get through the smallest of places. Their accuracy in bomb detection is much more than humans.

Former Team

The former dog-handler team that Treo and Dave were about to replace were quite excited about completing their mission and returning home. The former handler before leaving for home handed over a note to Dave that read, “Dave, welcome to Sangin. Only 186 days to go- you know the rest!”

Together In The Terror

While in the helicopter Treo was scared as the ride became bumpy due to the enemies’ firing. Their trouble started before landing in the battlefield. The sun and sand were making it suffocating for them, however, Dave and Treo were wearing their special pair of goggles for the protection of their eyes. Their base area was completely opposite to their previous missions’ location. Dave sensed Treo’s discomfort and he knew the canine needed to have cared more cautiously in order to maintain his accuracy in work.

It’s OK, Promise!

While landing, Treo was looking at his handler to find some comfort out of his distress. Sergeant Dave tried to assure the pooch that it’s fine and he’ll save Treo on the cost of his own life too. They were building a strong bond which is very important in a war zone but as now you know a bond should be strong but not too close. As Treo and Dave got through this is just stunning. 

Old WarZone

Afghanistan is located in Central Asia, the country is on war since the 1978 Saur Revolution. The Soviet invasion was followed by civil war. Later in 2001, the US and UK government interfered and till date the war is on. In between all this hassle, Treo and Dave were doing their best together but was this bond going to hamper their performance?

UnpreparedLabrador Retriever

Dave and Treo landed with a plan on their mind, they were about to practice for two weeks. Treo was yet to be trained for the local smell as the smell of explosives differs on the basis of location in different parts of the world. But war is not planned nor was their deployment and this was a big shock for the team of two as they were supposed to get on the battlefield without any add-on local practice. 

A Head StartLabrador Retriever

Sadly, Dave and Treo didn’t get a chance to practice at all as they were supposed to head for the war area as soon as they reached their base camp in Sangin, Central Afghanistan. Sangin is nicknamed as ‘IED Central’, ie, improvised explosive device. The same devices that Treo is specialized in sniffing out and warning his handler about the explosive. The situation was dicey because of the new location but not out of hands.

Close But Not Too Close

The team was sharing a magnificent bond. Their partnership proved to be very effective but they had a long way to go and Treo found a new friend too, other than Dave in the new country. There was another dog Sasha, whose first handler Marianne had to give her up unwillingly because of the closeness that they shared. Sasha was assigned a new handler named Ken Rowe. In the mid of the war with such a vigilant job to be done, Treo had his own way for entertainment.

Treo’s BestieLabrador Retriever

Sasha, a female dog, and her handler Ken were working on the same mission with Treo and Dave. The 4 of them were quite close and every time Sasha was around, Treo used to behave more humbly. According to Dave, Sasha was “one hell of a classy-looking girl. “If there is one dog in the 104 that can rival Treo’s abilities, it’s her.” Sasha’s life met a devastating end, that made everyone moist-eyed.

Sasha’s Sad EndLabrador Retriever

Unfortunately, Sasha died in 2008 after being transferred from Sangin. She was killed along with her handler on 24 July 2008, when Sasha was on patrolling she was shot by a sniper. She still managed to get back to her handler and that’s how the Taliban sniper found out Ken’s location and killed both of them with a volley of 5 rocket-propelled grenades.

Bitter Truth

The worse part is they were supposed to leave with their regiment to the UK, a day before this incident took place. Until Ken’s concern for his team made him decide to stay back as there wasn’t any other dog-handler team to take charge. Treo and Dave were safe but Ken was a close mate to Dave and this was a depressing moment for him.

A Telepathic DogLabrador Retriever

In the moment of grief, Treo felt something wrong and he stayed with his handler. “Treo is a very special dog. There’s a reason why I call him ‘my boy’… it’s because I feel safe when he is by my side and I know he has saved my life many times over,” Dave recalled. Their close yet professional bond was opening doors for risky missions.

Further RisksLabrador Retriever

Treo sniffed the bombs out, Dave identified his dog’s excitement and then came the role of bomb defusers who defused the bombs as soon as Treo and Dave found them. Bombs were planted everywhere in that area to kill the NATO soldiers but Treo saved these soldiers’ lives and kept the war going.

Special Mission

During the period of their mission, Treo and Dave were given a special task by a senior Major. They were assigned to protect the main supply road that connected the base. They were supposed to search for an old Soviet tank yard for the bombs, the yard was most probably filled with explosives. All the experience the duo had, was now about to be tested.

Took A StandLabrador Retriever

The special mission that Dave and Treo were given was to be held completely at night and Dave needed night vision goggles. As he didn’t have the goggles and he knew about the dangers that are spread on the way to this mission. He didn’t want to risk Treo’s life as his job was already dangerous. Hence, lack of equipment stopped the mission for a while.

Two SavioursLabrador Retriever

Dave and Treo went on the mission once the handler was given night vision goggles. They cleared the Soviet tank yard which was as filled with bombs and if not defused could have killed countless of their soldiers. The duo was syncing together perfectly and while Dave maintained adequate distance from the bomb as there were always chances that he might trigger any of the bombs and informed the diffusers. 

Target Number 1Labrador Retriever

Treo was the celebrity among the regiment as he was too good at detecting bombs. His popularity was so much that the enemies were aware of him too. There were many radio transmissions from the Taliban where they were targeting “the black dog”. No doubts that Treo was becoming a threat to Taliban. Hence, they were making plans to kill the innocent dedicated pooch, Treo.

The Daisy ChainsLabrador Retriever

Now he was given another mission to clear off the ground of an abandoned hotel. This will help the snipers to get to the terrace from where they can locate enemies with more accuracy and can cover more distance area. Treo sniffed out “daisy-chain” explosives, which meant a group of bombs combined together. With the capacity to kill 10 times more people than other regular bombs, Treo saved so many lives and soldiers were grateful to this little blackie!

Homeless

The Afghanistan mission was close to the end and the question was what’s next for Treo. The poor pooch who saved countless lives didn’t have a home to return to. He didn’t have a home for himself or anyone was waiting for him to come back as he was donated to the army. The dogs who don’t have anywhere to go are kept in shelters where they wait to get adopted. But did Treo really deserve to stay in a shelter after all that he has done for the nation? What were the coincidences that took place next?

Odd ChancesLabrador Retriever

It could be Treo’s luck or just a coincidence that his handler was getting off from his work at the same time. Both were returning from the war zone in the same flight but Dave had his home and family waiting for him while Treo had none. Dave’s next move was so generous that Treo himself would have felt proud of his handler.

Adopted?

Sgt. Dave Heyhoe quickly finished all the paperwork to adopt Treo from the day his services were getting over. They both already knew each other very well. Dave was just doing the right thing at the right time. This was such an amazing example given by Dave to the world to care for the animals and how they can be more than war weapons. They can be family.

Recognition

Treo received the Dickin Medal which is the highest honor a military animal can be awarded. “This medal is a unique honor for all of our dog handlers, particularly all the military working dogs and their handlers that are serving in Afghanistan,” Dave told. Treo seemed to enjoy all the attention he got at the ceremony, he didn’t know what it is for though. Maybe he understood that he has done something good. This wasn’t all for Treo as his story is still not complete.

Retirement

Treo and Dave retired together as Dave requested to let Treo, the 9-year-old retire with him. The black Labrador retriever now lived a life of a regular pet dog. A chilled out and relaxed life with his former handler and present owner. “During the six months we spent in Helmand Province the challenge was unrelenting but Treo did not waver from his duties for a second. He’s a true soldier friend,” said Dave.
Treo wasn’t yet done with his good jobs and wonderful acts.

A Guardian AngelLabrador Retriever

Treo was always working, even after retirement, he was helping at the army service. Not only that, he helped his handler who was now his owner, Dave recovering from the severe state of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). A disorder he was suffering from after returning from Afghanistan’s battlefield. Treo was super-empathetic and could always make out that something is wrong with Dave. Even after retirement, the pooch always took out the weed killer from the hardware stores. Dave felt like Treo is telling him, “Look what I’ve found, Dad”.

A Tribute

Dave and a co-author Damien Lewis published a book about the experience with Treo. The name of the book is It’s All About Treo: Life and War with the World’s Bravest Dog. “The world’s most highly decorated dog, Treo and his handler David Heyhoe did the most dangerous job on earth – sniffing out bombs in Afghanistan – and survived,” is said in the book’s summary. That’s when the world got to know about the brave dog’s life. Treo’s achievement was yet to be rewarded.

A True HeroLabrador Retriever

“He’s a proper dog who never gives kisses, but the times when I needed him, he’d sit beside me. He knew when I was suffering,” recalled Dave. Treo lived till 2015 and died at the age of 14. He served as a true hero for the nation and lived a long happy retired life with his best friend and his family. But Dave wanted to pay a tribute to his furry friend.

ReactionsLabrador Retriever

With 4 and a half stars rating, the book was liked by the critics and around the globe. People could relate to Dave’s emotions from his words in the book. The greatness of their relationship was tremendous. Treo was gone and there was something more than the book to be done in his name to inspire the world.

Treo’s Story

“It’s very difficult at the moment to recruit dogs and we are constantly campaigning. We need to recruit military working dogs all the time so we can carry on the good work they are doing,” Dave said in an interview. Dave spends his time raising funds and spreading awareness about soldiers’ charities. He even tours around the country to tell Treo’s story and people are always keen to listen to him. His last and the greatest tribute to his best friend who was more like his own son made Treo immortal.

StatueLabrador Retriever

“He’s immortalized now and it really does look like him. Everyone will be able to look at him now and see that he did that job for his country,” Dave told in 2017 when Treo’s statue was uncovered. His statue is located in a park in Congleton, England and was made after spending $18,500 that Dave raised for the statue from Treo’s fans all over England.
Amy Goodman, an artist who portrait and sculpted the statue after reading the inspiring book told, “I’ve always loved animals and to be involved with something so personal has been quite emotional.” This statue was for the world, Dave got Treo on him forever unbelievably!

RemembranceLabrador Retriever

The most unique thing is that Treo’s ashes are mixed in the ink before making the tattoo. Treo now is forever a part of Dave with this tattoo. Dave got an impactful poem and a paw tattooed that read as, “I will lay down my life for you and expect nothing but love in return. I protect my Dad with my life, and would gladly take a bullet in his place. I am the first sent in and sometimes the last to leave. I am the nose and ears of my Dad. I protect and serve him. I would die for him and for you. I only ask for compassion and a kind word.”

WeirdLabrador Retriever

People have largely criticised Dave for using Treo’s ashes in the tattoo. They have found this idea weird and just couldn’t understand why does Dave need to use Treo’s ashes in this manner. They doubted if he’ll be able to rest in peace or not. However, Dave had his own answer for this action.

Farewell

“Over the years we have seen gunfire, death and bomb scares together – I’ve been lost without him. Now it feels like Treo is by my side – where he’s supposed to be,” expresses the retired Sergeant. He tells that how he knows that Treo is happy after living a life with so many accomplishments.

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