Bryn the border collie has travelled the world to help in disaster areas but now it’s time for him to put away his passport and spend quality time at home.
Eleven year old Bryn, has just returned to his home in Mobberley after working in Nepal following the devastating earthquake. He was trained for the UK’s international search and rescue team (UKISAR) from a puppy.
He and his handler, Steve Buckley, are widely recognised as one of the best dog and handler teams in the country.
Steve, a firefighter with Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service and a member of the UK international search and rescue team, explained how the unique partnership came about: “I was in India with UKISAR in 2001 following the Gujarat earthquake. 12,300 people lost their lives. The UK team had only one dog at that time but it was there that I saw search dogs in action for the first time.
When we returned to the UK I put a case together for Cheshire to have a search and rescue dog and went to see the chief fire officer who was very receptive to the idea.
Rescue dogs are trained to pick up the scent of a living person,” continued Steve. “The reality is that our role is to save lives so Bryn will not indicate on dead casualties. When they pick up on the trail, they simply bark, and that’s when we can begin sending down cameras into the rubble and start digging.”
“Rescue dogs have special boots to protect their paws from glass shards, tiles, splinters and other debris. Unfortunately, on a search in Japan, Bryn got a nasty cut on his front leg. UKISAR’s medical director, Dr Malcolm Russell MBE, was able to super-glue and bandage Bryn’s leg so he could continue to work.”
This incident made headlines around the world. “It wasn’t actually a bad cut but, because he was running around and his heart was pumping, there was a lot of blood on his leg.
“It made a dramatic photograph for the front of The Daily Mail – so much so I had to borrow a satellite phone from a British TV crew so I could call my wife and reassure her that Bryn wasn’t actually badly hurt.
Bryn is also a member of my family. We work together each day and go home together each night.”
So what’s next for Bryn? Although he’s put his passport away and won’t be going on any more international trips he will still be working for the Avon Fire and Rescue Urban Search and Rescue team (USAR).
In between all that he’ll be putting his paws up for a well-earned rest; going for walks with the rest of his gang – Steve and his wife Sylvia have two other dogs, Fenn and Pippa, with another puppy arriving in the next few weeks.