AN AUSTRALIAN army explosive detection dog has been killed while on active service in Afghanistan.
The Australian Defence Force said yesterday the dog, named Merlin, was accidentally run over by an Australian Light Armoured Vehicle (ASLAV) at the Australian Reconstruction Task Force (RTF) base at Tarin Kowt earlier this month.
Merlin had been lying in the shade of the ASLAV when the vehicle drove off, inadvertently running him over.
The four-year-old blue heeler cross was a veteran of three major operations, having served on security for the 2006 Commonwealth Games, in East Timor and Afghanistan.
This photo made me sad, because he’s such a gorgeous dog. What a lovely face.
Like so many human casualties over there, he died not in glorious battle but in an inglorious cockup. I thought about him in the car today, and it occurred to me perhaps it’s overly indulgent to mourn a dog when there are humans, including civilians, dying over there. I thought of the boy holding his hand out to Merlin (as the article says, they both held the same military rank – sapper. Heh.) He’s young enough to be my son. He has a lovely face, too.
He was distraught at his death, as were other task force members. But his job was to use Merlin to detect explosives. So Merlin was a beloved companion, workmate, and completely and utterly dispensable. Merlin died by accident, but the very nature of his job meant that he could be blown to smithereens at any time, by our hand, and with the imprimatur of the people he trusted. The things we do to animals. The things we do to each other.
Sorry, Merlin, that we had to embroil you in our human shit. Keep safe, Peter.