LONDON, 8 SEPT 2004. An alert Bhopal.Net reader clicking this link in our 2003 news story 57 UK MPs sign Early Day Motion in support of Bhopal, was astonished to find himself reading instead about a dog called Blaze, who has apparently been saving the lives of British soldiers in Basra.
The mundane explanation for this bit of joyous surrealism is that the House of Commons constantly updates its Early Day Motion site, so Alice Mahon’s motion has been shunted into some deep inaccessible vault beneath Big Ben. However the story of Blaze is a moving tale of canine heroism and dastardly Iraqis and we are sure you would like to hear it.
It seems that Blaze, who is an English Springer Spaniel (see picture, they are the ones with long droopy ears and mournful expressions) with a talent for sniffing out guns, ammunition and explosives in Iraq has survived a suspected contract killing by “guerillas”.
Blaze, who is serving with British forces in southern Iraq, escaped with cuts and bruises after the hitmen roared up in a car, “deliberately swerved” and hit him, The Sun newspaper said, quoting senior military sources, “There is no doubt that this was a deliberate assassination attempt. We are convinced that there was a price on Blaze’s head.”
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The incident took place on a road in Al-Zubayr, southwest of Basra city, the headquarters for 8800 British troops who occupy oil-rich southern Iraq, the newspaper said. Blaze, who works with Manchester squaddie Lance Corporal Steve Dineley, 24, was searching a roadside in Al Zubayr for bombs, when the would-be assassins roared up in a car, deliberately swerved and ran over the dog, which was wearing a fluorescent harness and could be seen clearly. Blaze was left for dead after the attack as Steve looked on in horror. But amazingly, the heroic canine survived with only cuts and bruises.
The spaniel is among several sniffer dogs brought to Iraq by the British army to help find weapons and explosives. Each costs £24,000 (35,000 euros, US$42,700) to train. Steve and Blaze have unearthed AK-47 rifles, bullets, grenades, bombs, dynamite and five anti-aircraft guns during their spell in Iraq. An army source said: “We are convinced there is a price on Blaze’s head because of his success.” Handler, Lance Corporal Steve Dineley commented: “I was gutted when he got run over and so were all the guys. We were very angry but he has made a great recovery.”
Blaze is back on the streets, and on his first day on patrol found a massive store of guns. Steve said: “Blaze was really pleased to be back in action and I rolled round on the floor playing with him at the end of the day. He’s done a superb job over here and I initially thought we’d lost him when the incident happened. I were fair gutted when he got bloody run over and so was all the lads.”
A pet food company have donated a big supply of dog treats to keep Blaze happy.
Army officials said: “This dog deserves the highest praise.” The MPs, who include the Reverend Ian Paisley, obviously agree.
These details are brought to you by a little quick Google research, one of the delights of which is the bizarreness of the results. Searching for “Blaze+Basra+dog” brought up a story entitled “Ex-wife’s dog bites man’s wallet”. Life being short and the headline irresistible, here it is: “From correspondents in Toronto. 10 Aug 04. A Canadian man got off the leash by divorcing from his wife, but was ordered by a judge to pay $C200 (US$211) a month in doggie-alimony. Four-year-old St Bernard Crunchy is munching his way through a monthly bill of $C200 ($211) in food, health bills and general care giving, the National Post newspaper reported. Pampering the dog is truck driver Kenneth Duncan, of western Alberta province, in what is thought to be the first court order of its kind in Canada. The $C200 dollar assessment is about a third of what Mr Duncan would be required to pay his ex-wife Barbara Boschee had there been a child involved – but the ruling doesn’t involve any visitation rights.” Just thought you would like to know.