Reservists from 101 Military Working Dog Squadron have been demonstrating their capabilities for the first time since their launch just a year ago.
The nationally recruited squadron is based at St George’s Barracks, North Luffenham and is the first Reservist dog-handling squadron in the British Army in more than 30 years.
It forms part of 1st Military Working Dog Regiment (Royal Army Veterinary Corps), that provides the only deployable military working dog and veterinary capability within the whole of the British Army. The dogs and their handlers provide vital detect and protect capabilities for troops on the ground.
Reserves joining the squadron are trained as Protection Military Working Dog Handlers looking after the security and safety of military assets and their bases.
Part of the soldiers’ initial training includes teaching them how to look after and care for their canine colleagues. Later on in the Reservist’s career there is an opportunity to undertake specialist dog handler courses including vehicle search.
Private David Welch, who is a PE teacher in civilian life, is currently undertaking his Phase One training.
He said: “I’d been thinking about joining the Reserves for a few years, but I wasn’t sure which role was the best fit for me. Then I heard about the launch of the squadron and as a dog lover myself I thought it would really suit me. I’m really enjoying it. It’s challenging but you learn some great skills.”
All new recruits complete their Phase One training which provides them with the skills they require for basic soldiering before going on to complete a two-week residential Basic Dog Handler course at the Defence Animal Centre in nearby Melton Mowbray.
Ex-regular soldier Private Rosy Jones joined the squadron having served with 104 Military Working Dog Squadron in her regular career. She deployed on Op Herrick 13 as a protection dog handler and also served as an explosive search dog handler at the London Olympics.
She now runs her own dog handling business and is a part time lecturer in animal care. “I kept in touch with members of the squadron, so when I heard the reserve squadron had been launched I applied to join straight away.”
“I’m really enjoying it. The training is structured and the instructors are great and have a wealth of knowledge. I’m also enjoying working and training with civilians who don’t necessarily have a military background.
“I think I really have got the best of everything.”
The Regiment also recruits reservist Veterinary Officers and Registered Veterinary Nurses that maintain the health of the Military Working Dogs. New recruits are also helped to meet the required fitness standard and given military training.
Officer Commanding 101 Military Working Dog Squadron, Major Chris Ham (RAVC), said: “We can offer an interesting and worthwhile career that can take you all over the world on operations, exercises, sport and adventurous training.”
For further information on joining 101 Military Working Dog Squadron phone: 01780 727698, e-mail 1MWD-101SqnPSAO@mod.uk or visit the squadron on a training night. It meets every Tuesday from 7pm – 9pm at St George’s Barracks in North Luffenham.