Liam and Theo were a team, fast friends doing a dangerous job -- searching out roadside bombs laid by insurgents in Afghanistan.
Soldier and dog worked together as a team, played together, pretty much did everything together.
Lance Cpl. Liam Tasker, a dog handler with the (English) Royal Army Veterinary
Corps, was killed in a firefight with insurgents in Helmand Province on
March 1 as he searched for explosives with Theo, a bomb-sniffing Springer Spaniel mix. Though the dog, Theo, was physically unharmed - he suffered a fatal seizure hours later at a
British army base, Some say the dog couldn't deal with the death of his best friend.
Military officials won't go so far as to say Theo died of a broken heart -- but that may not be far from the truth. All dogs (and cats and pet parrots) are bonded with their people - but sometimes the connection is just so strong that, well, we don't even have a phrase in the English language to appropriately describe it.
Some pets clearly mourn with the loss of another household pet, or their favorite person. Some pets may not eat for days...and may mope around for days, weeks, even years. Are they depressed?
Well, some scientists maintain the animals are merely responding to a change in the environment. I agree. But it's often much more than that. Clearly. science also shows that dogs and cats have the same emotional pathways we do. They may not feel the same emotions the same way, or express them as we might - but they are capable of them.
A military Hercules plane carrying Tasker's body and Theo's ashes
touched down Thursday March 3 at a Royal Air Force base in southwest England. As
the funeral cortege of black vehicles drove slowly away, it was saluted
by a long line of military dog handlers, their dogs at their sides. A
black Labrador Retriever sat quietly beside its handler as the hearse
carrying the flag-draped coffin disappeared from view.
Tasker was the 358th British soldier to die in Afghanistan since the
2001 U.S.-led invasion. Theo was the sixth British military dog killed
in Iraq or Afghanistan since 2001.
There are calls for Theo to receive the Dickin medal, which since
1943 has recognized wartime bravery by animals, from carrier pigeons to a
World War II commando Collie.
The loyalty of some dogs is legendary, from Greyfriars Bobby, a
19th-century Skye Terrier who guarded his master's Edinburgh grave for
14 years, to Hachiko, a Japanese Akita who awaited his owner's return at a
train station every day for years after the man's death. Both are
commemorated with statues.