Anti-bomb program honours soldiers : Landmine-detecting dogs named after troops killed in Afghanistan
A dog named after a Nova Scotia soldier who died in Afghanistan could one day be saving lives in the wartorn country. The Canadian Landmine Foundation is raising money to buy and train six bomb-sniffing German shepherds to send to northern Afghanistan in 2009. One of them will be named Paul, after Cpl. Paul Davis, the 28-year-old Bridgewater native who died March 2, 2006, in Afghanistan when his light-armoured vehicle hit a taxi, veered off the road and flipped.
"Out of my son's death we've got a dog that may possibly save several other lives or terrible hardship on poor children," his father, Jim Davis, said Tuesday.
"It's quite touching."
Mr. Davis choked up a little bit at the thought of his son leaving such a legacy.
"I get emotional, but it's a very comforting feeling," he said, noting he'd like to meet the dog some day.
Three of the six dogs will be named after Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
Scott Fairweather, president of the Canadian Landmine Foundation, met their parents last year and got approval to name the dogs after their soldier sons.
"All of them were really quite touched by the gesture," Mr. Fairweather said.
"The parents were very taken by the idea that the dogs named after their kids would be working in Afghanistan and continuing their efforts to help the people of that country."
The dogs will be trained in southern Bosnia by the Canadian International Demining Corps, which is based in Sydney, Cape Breton.
"They are among the best dog training organizations in the world," Mr. Fairweather said.
They usually wait until dogs are about 18 months old before the training starts to make sure the pooches are well suited to landmine detection, he said.
"There has never been a Canadian trained dog killed or injured in the field, which is really quite an extraordinary standard," Mr. Fairweather said.
Buying and training each dog costs $15,360, he said. "This dog is now ready to be deployed."
The Canadian Landmine Foundation is hoping people will host dinners around March 1 - the anniversary of when the Ottawa Treaty to ban landmines became international law in 1999 - to raise money for the dogs.
"Instead of your friends and neighbours bringing dessert or wine, they're invited to bring a donation," Mr. Fairweather said.
For more information on how to participate in what's billed as Night of a Thousand Dinners, check out www.canadianlandmine.org on the Internet.
"They also have recipes for mine-affected countries in case they want to run a theme night and a number of other things on how to organize a successful event," Mr. Fairweather said.