7 Sep 2007, Comments Off on Friday Dog Blogging: Heroic dog dies in Afghanistan

Friday Dog Blogging: Heroic dog dies in Afghanistan

Author: Helen

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.

Comments (0)

  • JahTeh says:

    We keep training animals to do dirty work for us but I read an article the other day that made me smile. Elephants in Angola (don’t quote me on the country) aren’t getting their legs blown off by landmines as much because they’ve learnt to sniff them out with their trunks. I thought that was brilliant.

  • blue milk says:

    Oh a touching post, cast iron balcony. Before I got to your commentary I thought ‘typical, died in some kind of friendly fire situation’. You summed up the story so well in your thoughts, all of it, how the guy looks like he could be your son, how the dog died trusting it’s human companions to be protecting it.

  • Lad Litter says:

    A sad and moving tale. Like so much of Australia’s military history. At the Aust War Memorial, there’s a preserved dog from WWI. Rolf was used by the Germans to help locate soldiers in collapsed trenches and take messages. He deserted to the AIF cause when he smelt bacon cooking from across No Man’s Land.

  • shula says:

    Whaddaya mean, overly indulgent? Give me a dog over a human, any day.

  • Helen says:

    I know, Shula, I just had a vision of his mum looking at that photo and thinking that he, too, could be killed in a war zone.
    Maggie behaves as if she adores me – I wonder if she’d sell me down the river for bacon!?

  • wmmbb says:

    I have included your story of Merlin on my regular Friday Night Dog Blog. Hope that is OK.

    It seems to me that the Afghanistan engagement is misconceived because we are looking at lines on the map, not the underlying ethnic and linguistic relationships, and for that reason have been caught up in the imperialist after image.

  • Helen says:

    JahTeh, don’t the elephants get their trunks blown up?

  • Helen says:

    You are very welcome Ian!
    Your dogs are lovely.
    Agree about the Afghanistan thing, too, from the little I know. I do know that with tremendous irony, the Americans, wanting to push the USSR back in the Cold War, bankrolled and assisted the Mujahadeen thereby creating the monster that they now primly point to as the antithesis of their democratic and wonderful selves ;-/

  • Ann O'Dyne says:

    I’m with Shula.
    the entire bloody australian army can shoot themselves in the foot for all I care. fkwts the lot of them – hello to you Mrs Kovco

  • JahTeh says:

    You have to step on a landmine first before you get your leg blown off so it looks like you can teach an elephant new tricks.

  • tigtog says:

    Thanks for this story. I don’t have anything much to add, but yes, it just all seems so futile and wasteful.

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