A Close Partnership...

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One Man and his dog ......




A True Story of a close partnership ...

But for the soldier uniform these pictures could have been taken anywhere showing the closeness of a boy enjoying exercising his dog ...... not so !

This jovial British soldier and his irrepressible dog worked and played together for months, and died on the same day. On Thursday they came home, flown back to Britain in a sombre repatriation ceremony for the soldier remembered for his empathy with animals and the companion he loved.Lance Cpl. Liam Tasker, a dog handler with the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, was killed in a firefight with insurgents in Helmand Province on March 1 as he searched for explosives with Theo, a bomb-sniffing springer spaniel mix. The dog suffered a fatal seizure hours later at a British army base, likely brought about by stress.

Military officials won't go so far as to say Theo died of a broken heart — but that may not be far from the truth."I think we often underestimate the grieving process in dogs," said Elaine Pendlebury, a senior veterinarian with animal charity PDSA. "Some dogs react very severely to their partner's loss."She said it was not uncommon for pets to respond to an owner's death by refusing food and becoming sick — and the bond between working dogs and their handlers is especially close."The bonding that I have seen between soldiers or police and their dogs is fantastic. When you see them working together, it's really one unit."

A military Hercules plane carrying Tasker's body and Theo's ashes touched down Thursday at a Royal Air Force base in southwest England. As the funeral cortege of black vehicles drove slowly away, it was saluted by a long line of military dog handlers, their dogs at their sides. A black Labrador retriever sat quietly beside its handler as the hearse carrying the flag-draped coffin disappeared from view.

At the nearby town of Wootton Bassett, where people line the streets in a mark of respect each time a dead soldier is repatriated, dozens stood silently — some with dogs at their feet — as Tasker's friends and family laid roses atop the hearse.The Ministry of Defense said Theo's ashes would be presented to Tasker's family later at a private ceremony. Liam Tasker, 26 from Kirkcaldy in Scotland, spent six years as an army mechanic before joining the military working dog unit in 2007. He felt he had found his calling.

"I love my job and working together with Theo," Tasker said in a profile of the pair released by the Ministry of Defense before his death. "He has a great character and never tires. He can't wait to get out and do his job and will stop at nothing."The soldier and the 22-month-old dog had been in Afghanistan for almost six months, uncovering roadside bombs and weapons in a dangerous daily routine.

Theo became a bit of a military celebrity last month after the defense ministry released photos and video of him and Tasker to highlight the lifesaving work of military dogs. The footage, now deeply poignant, shows Theo — energetic, ears cocked, tail wagging — alongside Tasker searching a compound for explosives.

The above photographs were provided by the Associated Press through the Ministry of Defense.

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Love and Peace Kate xxx.