Dorset 'hero' dog honoured for life-saving work

Dorset 'hero' dog honoured for life-saving work

Published by George Sharpe at 1:13pm 21st October 2019. (Updated at 7:39am 22nd October 2019)

Border Collie, Charlie, saved an elderly woman who had been lost for 14 hours in freezing temperatures.

Charlie, who died in December 2017, is posthumously being recognised for his efforts to find hundreds of people over 10 years. 

His PDSA Order of Merit - known as the animal' OBE -  was picked up in his honour at a special presentation at Highliffe Castle.

During his career, Charlie made a number of incredible saves:

  • Charlie located an elderly and vulnerable lady who had been missing for 14 hours in freezing temperatures. Police and ambulance services reported that had Charlie not found her when he did, she wouldn't have survived. 
  • In May 2008, Charlie located a murder victim buried in a large field, leading to a conviction
  • Also in May 2008, Charlie located a missing 90-year-old dementia patient who had become disorientated and bogged down in mud
  • In February 2009, Charlie and Matt were sent to Ascension Island in the Southern Atlantic, to help search for a missing woman. Charlie, along with two Thames Valley Blood Detection dogs, searched the entire island in brutal conditions and terrain. Such was Charlie's reputation, the fact that no one was located gave closure to the search. Clearing a search space in this way is often as important as making a positive find

Charlie worked for Dorset Search Dogs and Lowlands Search and Rescue for 10 years, completing hundreds of searches an amassing thousands of search hours.

His award was presented to Zak, one of Charlie's canine colleagues at Highcliffe Castle.

Volunteer handler Matt Cooke, PDSA vet Aoife Clancy, Dog handler Kev Saunders & Zac, wearing Charlie's PDSA Order of Merit
Volunteer handler Matt Cooke, PDSA vet Aoife Clancy, Dog handler Kev Saunders & Zac, wearing Charlie's PDSA Order of Merit

Charlie's handler, Search and Rescue volunteer, Matt Cooke, said: 

"Charlie was my boy. My dog of a lifetime. He was a pleasure to train and work alongside, and I am immensely proud of everything he has achieved in his career. For him to receive the PDSA Order of Merit, even after he has left us, is such an incredible honour. I am thrilled to have Zak - his Hampshire Search and Rescue colleague - accept the medal on Charlie's behalf." 

Commenting on the awards, PDSA Director General, Jan McLoughlin, said:

"We are pleased to announce Charlie as the latest recipient of the PDSA Order of Merit. Although we're saddened that he was unable to receive his honour during his lifetime, we hope that Matt and his colleagues at Dorset Search Dogs see it as a fitting tribute to his incredible career.

Volunteer handler Matt Cooke with Zac, wearing Charlie's PDSA Order of Merit
Volunteer handler Matt Cooke with Zac, wearing Charlie's PDSA Order of Merit

"Our Animal Awards programme seeks to raise the status of animals in society.  Charlie's long and dedicated career epitomises the reason we must continue our Founder's tradition of honouring the contribution animals make to our lives. 
 
"The PDSA Order of Merit was introduced to recognise animals for their exceptional devotion to duty and service to society. Charlie was a truly exceptional animal and an incredibly worthy recipient of this medal."