Four working dogs accompanied their military police officer owners on a charity challenge in the Falkland Islands. It was all in the aid of raising money for The Thin Blue Paw Foundation – a charity that was set up to support retired police dogs.
Cpl Hannah Smith, from the military working dog section in the Joint Service Police and Security Unit in the Falklands, led a group of three colleagues in a 38-mile loaded march from their camp at Mount Pleasant Complex to Stanley accompanied by Coula, Fui, Sisko and Yse.
Hannah made the march with her trusty companion, three-year-old Belgian Malinois, Could. She was joined by Cpl Will Shrimpton and his three-year-old German Shepherd Fuli; Cpl Ali Northcott and Sisko, a three-year-old German Shepherd; and Cpl Sarah Holmes and her five-year-old German Shepherd, Yse.
The decision to support this charity came after Hannah had met the foundation’s trustee PC Dave Wardell and RPD Finn at Crufts.
“Sarah retired her first RAF Police dog Messi last year so we know only too well what’s involved in taking on a retired working dog,” said Hannah. “The Thin Blue Paw Foundation is an incredible charity. We are both dog lovers and dog handlers so this is a charity very close to our hearts.”
The team completed the challenge in seven hours and 48 minutes, all while wearing a 20kg weighted rucksack. They raised £3,150, smashing their original goal of £250.
Speaking about the dogs’ role in the challenge, Hannah said: “We really wanted to involve our dogs in the endeavour so we set up a relay with different dogs completing different stages, as some of them don’t get on!”
She added: “Our dogs Coula, Fuli, Sisko and Yse all enjoyed their stints and slept very well that night! We were all very achy and had a few blistered feet but celebrated with a few drinks afterwards. I’m really proud of the whole team.”
Charity trustee Kieran Stanbridge said: “The whole Falklands team did an amazing job completing this march and an even better job of fundraising! We’re incredibly grateful to them for their support.
“We launched the Thin Blue Paw Foundation in August 2020 to help to serve and retired police and military dogs.
“Many people are unaware that retired working dogs don’t receive any support when they leave their jobs and that many of them are difficult to insure because of their careers. “We want to support the dogs and their owners, and ensure that they can live long, happy lives once they retire.”