Exploring how a dog's extraordinary sense of smell can be put to multiple uses.
The Sussex Police working dogs and their handlers are in charge of patrolling a county that is home to 1.5 million people. With such a weighty responsibility on their shoulders, these are no ordinary pooches. Each dog must complete a specially designed training programme before graduating as a ‘general purpose dog’ who is able to track, chase and detain suspected criminals. Newly capped members must then prove what they have learned on the streets in real-life scenarios. Their handlers are also put to the test as they must protect themselves, the public and their animals from any dangerous hounds that might try to retaliate.
Meanwhile, Paddy, an English springer spaniel, is trained in a more specialised field – sniffing out explosives. His senses are primed to detect as little as one billionth of a gram of an explosive substance. In practice, this can mean saving the lives of thousands of people every day. Handler Colin takes Paddy to a training event where they must prove their mettle at two separate venues. Firstly, they visit St David’s Cathedral in West Wales, and then a 15,000-capacity rugby ground. Can Paddy smell the minuscule amounts of explosive materials that have been planted on site?
The PDSA Dickin Medal is an award for outstanding bravery, and the animal equivalent to the Victoria Cross. Nine-year-old Treo, a black Labrador, is the latest canine to be honoured with the prize in a special ceremony at the Imperial War Museum. While on a tour in Helmand province, the army dog was able to alert his unit to two bombs that had the power to destroy a number of lives. Now in retirement, Treo and his handler, Dave Heyhoe, still help out at the 101 Military Working Dog Support Unit in Aldershot. Currently, protection dog Bronco and tracker hound Sully are working towards applying for a new posting to Afghanistan. Are they good enough to follow in Treo’s tracks?