Buster, the dog who 'saved a thousand lives' dies

War hero RAF sniffer dog survived five tours of duty

Military Dog Who 'Saved A Thousand Lives' Dies
Buster, who served five tours in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan as an explosives search dog has passed away at the age of 13.

The springer spaniel, who earned a row of campaign medals for his service with the RAF, retired in 2011, and died on Thursday evening at the home of his handler, Flight Sergeant Will Barrow, in Lincolnshire.

Over the course of his career, Buster is thought to have saved more than 1,000 lives by sniffing out improvised explosive devices (IEDs), as well as weapons and other ammunition.

He also helped patrol British bases and search vehicles at check points, and upon retirement was made the official RAF Police mascot.

"It is with great sadness that Flight Sergeant Will Barrow from the RAF Police announces the death of his retired Arms and Explosive Search Dog, Buster," the RAF said in a statement.

"It was his exceptional efforts in these austere environments for which he will be remembered. It was the saving of countless lives by searching out IEDs that saw the honour of official lifetime mascot of the RAF Police bestowed upon Buster."

The RAF police are now planning to commemorate Buster as part of a special event to celebrate RAF Police Military Working Dogs.

Key role

Buster began working with Flt Sgt Barrow in 2007, and the pair were deployed to Afghanistan's deadly Helmand province.

Here, Buster saved lives by sniffing out explosive vests, leading to the arrests of two suicide bombers, reports the Daily Mail.

He joined his comrades repeatedly on foot patrols through the poppy fields hunting Taliban insurgents and tracking down booby trap bombs left behind for British and American troops, as well as acting as a useful diplomatic tool, due to his friendly approach to local children.