A 12-year-old Springer Spaniel who has been an incredible canine asset to the London Fire Brigade is set to receive a special award. On October 18, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) will celebrate Roscoe's years of dedicated service at the House of Lords. Roscoe is just one of three dogs working with this brigade to sniff out clues in the wake of suspicious fires, in a role that is still rare around the UK, despite its success.
Roscoe has earned the nickname 'The Dog of Truth' - often it is entirely down to him to establish whether a fire has been started deliberately, with his incredible ability to find ignitable substances and thus provide the necessary evidence needed to convict dangerous arsonists.
In his years of service, Roscoe's tip-top health and enthusiasm for work has meant he hasn't missed a single day due to sickness or injury, and in total has assisted at the scene of over 600 incidents. He should have retired two years ago, but Roscoe is still so keen, his handler Mick Boyle decided to allow him to keep working.
Mick said, “Every single day Roscoe has never failed to amaze me; I never tire of watching him work. He always surprises me and it gives me immense pleasure and satisfaction to see him enjoying the work while finding the cause of suspicious fires and helping safeguard the community. When members of the public see him arrive at the scene of a fire and ask why he’s there I say he’s going to tell me who started the fire.
“Roscoe and the other fire investigation dogs are one of London’s best kept secrets; the heroes with dirty faces. At the age of one year Roscoe came to me to start training after being given up for rehoming by his previous owners. Immediately he hit the ground running and as a team Roscoe makes me look good!”
Dogs working with the Fire Service are valuable assets, and are treated as such. They are never sent into areas that are still burning, and wear special booties to protect their feet from glass and debris. Thanks to these measures, none of these dogs have ever been injured on the job, and they absolutely love the work they do, as it's incredibly stimulating and rewarding to high energy and intelligent animals like Roscoe.
Even when Roscoe eventually does retire, he will still have a teaching and ceremonial role at fire safety events with the public.
Mick added, “Roscoe also just loves people and being made a fuss of. He has taken part in dozens of events with the public, especially as part of this year’s 150th anniversary of London Fire Brigade, and he makes a point of moving round the crowd and greeting every single person, hoping to get attention. Lots of people who are usually fearful of dogs, especially children, comment that they have no fear of Roscoe.
“We will definitely let him keep doing things like this as long as he wants to; he is such an active dog that he needs a hobby in his retirement!”
Featured image via the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)