Page last updated at 13:51 GMT, Sunday, 8 February 2009

Soldier and dog sniff out danger

L/Cpl Jim Wilkinson and dog Jamie
Jamie was abandoned as a puppy and taken in by the Army

An East Yorkshire soldier patrolling Afghanistan has been helping combat bombers with the help of his sniffer dog.

L/Cpl Jim Wilkinson and springer spaniel Jamie are nearing the end of their tour of duty with 103 Theatre Military Working Dogs Support Unit.

In December, the pair were on the front line, playing their part in a major British offensive against the Taleban.

The soldier said: "Jamie is such a pleasure to work with, he's awesome."

While 23-year-old L/Cpl Wilkinson's army career is relatively new, with this his second tour of Afghanistan, Jamie has notched up nine years of service.

Just having Jamie around can really help the lads' morale - particularly if they have lost someone
L/Cpl Wilkinson

He was taken up by the Army from a rescue home, having been abandoned as a puppy, and trained at the Royal Veterinary Corps.

He was trained to detect the slightest hint of explosives or weapons and is able to detect and prevent such materials being moved.

L/Cpl said: "He's such a pleasure to work with because he is so experienced, he knows exactly what he is doing and I can just let him get on with it."

But the soldier said Jamie's role was much more than just sniffing out explosives.

"Just having Jamie around can really help the lads' morale - particularly if they have lost someone," he said.

"Jamie reminds them of their own pets at home and is just a bit of normality.

"I've seen guys who have lost friends sit with Jamie for hours, stroking him and just being comforted by him being around."

Also a veteran of Iraq, Northern Ireland and Kosovo, the four-legged recruit is due to retire from active service when the pair leave Afghanistan.

While L/Cpl Wilkinson will return to his base in Germany, Jamie will hang up his lead and be re-homed with the soldier's father at his home in Nunburnholme near York.



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