Treo (dog)

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Species Dog
Breed Labrador Retriever-English Springer Spaniel cross
Sex Male
Born c. 2001
Died 2015
Notable role Detection dog
Years active 2002-2009
Owner Dave Heyhoe
Appearance Black coat
Awards Dickin Medal

Treo (c. 2001 - 2015) was a black Labrador Retriever-English Springer Spaniel crossbreed[1][2] and a retired Arms and Explosives Search dog with the Royal Army Veterinary Corps. He was awarded the Dickin Medal[3] (considered the equivalent of a Victoria Cross for animals) in February 2010.[4] The military nominated Treo for the award in recognition of his help uncovering a number of improvised explosive devices (IED) during his time serving in Helmand Province, an insurgency hot spot, in 2008. Treo was the medal's 63rd recipient.[5]

Early life[edit]

Treo was donated to the Army because of his general misbehaviour and inclination to snapping and growling at people.[6] His former owners' hopes were that the Army would straighten him out.[6] He began a 12-week training course at the Defence Animal Centre after which he was deployed to Northern Ireland for three years with his first handler.[7] When his first handler left the Army, Sergeant Dave Heyhoe took over control of Treo.

Service in Afghanistan[edit]

In 2008 Treo and his handler Sgt Heyhoe were deployed to Afghanistan, becoming one of 25 dogs supporting British troops there.[8] On 1 August 2008 Treo found an IED, called a daisy chain because of the way multiple explosive devices are wired together, concealed by Taliban insurgents along the side of a path. In September 2008 he found a second daisy chain, both times saving the lives of British soldiers as well as civilians.[7] His success at detecting IEDs did not go unnoticed by the insurgents, and intercepted radio traffic included conversations about "the black dog."[9] He retired in August 2009 and was awarded the Dickin Medal in February 2010 at the Imperial War Museum in London.[4][6]

The Dickin Medal is often referred to as the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross.[10]

Later life[edit]

After seven years in the military, Treo retired to live at home with Heyhoe. His death was announced in October 2015 and was buried with his Dickin Medal and a Union Jack by Heyhoe.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Heyhoe, Dave (2012). It's All About Treo: Life and War with the World's Bravest Dog. London: Quercus. ISBN 978-1-780-87396-1. 
  2. ^ Hennessy, Kathryn, ed. (2013). The Dog Encyclopedia: The Definitive Visual guide. London: Dorling Kindersley. p. 295. ISBN 978-1-409-36421-4. 
  3. ^ "Dickin Medal dogs". People's Dispensary for Sick Animals. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  4. ^ a b "Treo the dog awarded animal VC". The Daily Telegraph. London. 6 February 2010. Retrieved 24 February 2010. 
  5. ^ Satter, Raphael G. (24 February 2010). "Treo, British Labrador, Wins Dickin Medal For Bomb-Sniffing". The Huffington Post. New York. Retrieved 27 February 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c "Meet Treo, the hero army dog who took on the Taliban". Daily Mail. London. 25 February 2010. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  7. ^ a b "Black labrador Treo becomes 23rd animal to receive the Dickin Medal after serving in Afghanistan". Daily Mail. London. 24 February 2010. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  8. ^ "Sniffer dog Treo is honoured with PDSA Dickin Medal". BBC News. 24 February 2010. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  9. ^ Lee, Adrian (21 September 2013). "The doomed dogs of war: What happens to military dogs when they are no longer needed?". Daily Express. London. Retrieved 16 September 2014. 
  10. ^ Long, David (2012). The Animals' VC: For Gallantry and Devotion. London: Preface. ISBN 978-1-848-09376-8. 
  11. ^ Wilkins, Dean (27 October 2015). "Salute as 'VC' hero dog dies". The Sun. Retrieved 30 October 2015. 

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