Keira with her handler Lance Cpl Yvonne Watson
Springer Spaniel Keira and her handler, Lance Corporal Yvonne Watson have been working hard finding illegal weapons of war in an effort to reduce the tensions that are present in Iraq.
Yvonne, 30 is a Dog Handler in the Royal Army Veterinary Corps and Keira is a four-year-old
Springer Spaniel who was rescued from abuse to start a new life in the Army as an Arms Explosives Search Dog, often referred to as a ‘sniffer’ dog. They are both on their second tour of operational duty.
A victim of mistreatment by children, Keira is still apprehensive in the presence of young people, but is an excellent search dog and is rated as one of the best on duty. They have both served a tour of duty in Afghanistan before coming to Iraq.
Called out whenever there is a suspicion that arms and explosives may be hidden, the duo deploy by helicopter, armoured personnel carrier or Land Rover to where they are needed. It is hot and difficult work, temperatures are already reaching 50oC in early May, and summer has still to fully arrive.
Yvonne and Keira trained together at the Defence Animal Centre in Melton Mowbray, Leics. and have been working as a team for two years now. ‘She is a lovely dog,’ said Yvonne. ‘I really think that we are making a difference out here to the local people. They are trying to get their lives together and I would like to think that we are helping.
‘We have been very happy working together. I have applied to keep her after she has retired which is in another four years.’
The dogs are housed in air conditioned kennels and even have their own swimming pool and will move to duties in Cyprus at the end of their tour of duty in Iraq.
Yvonne joined the Army three years ago after the downturn in the dairy farming industry. Her parents still live in Monikie, Dundee.