Vesper, a search and rescue dog, and a candidate for the Kennel Club Hero Dog Award 2024

I’d like to write about Vesper, a kind and gentle dog who didn’t pass the test to be a police dog because, as stated, she is too kind and gentle πŸ’•.

She was, then, selected to be a search and rescue dog for which she is well suited and described as being very able.

She has been nominated among other dogs for the Crufts Kennel Club Hero Dog awards for this year.

Her nomination comes from being part of a team that rescued eight people trapped under rubble after the February 2023 earthquake in Turkey.

Vesper - search and rescue dog nominated for the 2024 Kennel Club Hero Dog award. Here she is in Turkey
Vesper – search and rescue dog nominated for the 2024 Kennel Club Hero Dog award. Here she is in Turkey. Picture by MikeB from images taken from a Kennel Club video.
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Turkey earthquake rescue

She was a member of the International Search and Rescue team sent from Britain to assist the Turkish where an estimated 55,000 people were killed (see pictures above). Comment: I remember the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, being criticised for allowing building developers to construct apartment blocks and suchlike without proper planning permission and without complying with proper regulations in order to speed up the economy. An attitude which led to many more deaths than should have occurred. Japan has a much more rigorous framework for building developers resulting in buildings surviving quite heavy earthquakes.

Suited to search and rescue

To return to Vesper. Her handler is Niamh Darcy. She works for Merseyside Fire & Rescue. Incidentally, Vesper is a Belgian malinois. Darcy said that “She was a kind and gentle dog so she would be more suited for detection than being a police dog”.

The Kennel Club said that although she “excelled in all other respects, running at criminals for a cuddle is not the expectation of a police dog!” πŸ’•

She performed flawlessly in a 48-hour trial to see whether she was suitable to be a search and rescue dog. She has been trained to place her paws accurately in order to avoid injury when searching in and on a demolished building.

Nominated dogs

Vesper has been nominated alongside three other dogs including Gordon a hearing aid dog who helps his owner with her deafness and anxiety.

Echo is another nominated dog; an Australian Shepherd dog. He gives support to Freya Harris aged eight whose had surgeries, chemotherapy and radiotherapy for a rare form of cancer.

And Phoebe, a golden retriever has also been nominated for the support that she gives to Jazz Turner 25, a competition sailor despite suffering from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. She calls Phoebe “my lifeline, my best friend”.

If you are interested, you can go to the Cross Kennel Club website’s awards page and vote by clicking on this link.

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