SOMEBODY better tell the Captain there’s a new top dog in charge of HMS Dragon.
Sailors on board the Type 45 destroyer felt the long arm of the paw when four military working dogs pounced on their ship.
The specially-trained canines – Otis, Chox, Ali and Benson – have the task of sniffing out explosives and protecting against intruders.
When HMS Dragon came alongside in Cyprus, the dogs’ trainers thought the warship would be an ideal place to test their skills in a new environment.
So a mock suspicious device was hidden in one of the bunk spaces on board the Portsmouth-based ship, and the dogs were sent in.
Sergeant Andrew Shaw, the chief trainer with the Cyprus-based Military Working Dogs Squadron, said: ‘There’s a huge difference between working in a large open area and the confinements of a ship.
‘There’s different scents, noises, and floor surfaces, let alone expecting the handlers to carry up to 40kg of wriggling and growling dogs up and down the narrow hatches and steep ladders.
‘But the dogs responded really well to the new challenges, jumping at the chance to search every nook and cranny.
‘We would be keen to go back for more as it is invaluable training for both the handlers and the animals.’
Otis and Chox are specialist arms and explosives search dogs, while Ali and Benson are protection dogs, expected to deter any aggression from intruders.
For the intruder training, Sgt Shaw donned a padded suit, hid somewhere in the ship, and challenged the patrol dog to take him down – watched from a distance by HMS Dragon’s ship’s company.
The tracker dogs are also employed to follow the scent of people fleeing on foot.
‘It was a hugely valuable day for all the members of the squadron – four and two-legged,’ said Captain Caroline Bullard, the second in command and veterinary officer of the dog squadron.
‘To have the opportunity to train on board one of the newest ships in the naval fleet, and to demonstrate the diverse capability of the military working dogs has been greatly appreciated.