Dog Theo died in camp hours after Lance Corporal Liam Tasker killed by Taliban on patrol in Helmand
|Police officers with their dogs wait for the body of Lance Corporal Liam|
Tasker to be driven through Wootton Bassett. Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters
Dog lovers and professional handlers were among hundreds who turned out to witness the homecoming of a soldier and his springer spaniel who died within hours of each other in Afghanistan.
Lance Corporal Liam Tasker, 26, from the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, was shot on patrol in Helmand. His dog Theo who used to sniff out explosives and weapons, survived the attack but died in camp hours later.
Tasker's body was driven through the main street of Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire, after he and the ashes of his dog were flown into nearby RAF Lyneham in the same plane.
Earlier Tasker's mother, Jane Duffy, said she liked to believe the dog died of a broken heart so that he could be with his master.
Tasker, from Kirkcaldy, Fife, died from injuries he suffered in a firefight with the Taliban, while Theo died after returning to the military base, Camp Bastion.
The soldier was said to have a "natural empathy with dogs" and was described as a "rising star" within the dog training group. The pair were said to be "made for each other".
Theo won praise from the Ministry of Defence for making 14 finds of hidden bombs and weapons caches in five months.
PC Gareth Wilkinson, from Cheshire police, had brought along explosives search spaniel Lottie. He said: "You get attached to the dogs so it's a doubly sad occasion."
Sergeant Steve Jones, of Wiltshire police, who attended with his search dog Chaz, added: "You always view the dogs as working dogs – they are not pets but you train and work with them and often you will spend more time with them than you do with your family so a very close bond develops."
|Tragic loss: Liam Tasker was on patrol with his dog|
Theo at the time of the attack in Nahr-e-Saraj, Afghanistan