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Military Dog Dies From Grief
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Powell's Books Powell's Books

Without planning (or plotting) to do so, a dog became a major character in my thriller. And will appear in the second. It's true that my Louie-the-dog might have too many stellar traits for one dog (he is well-trained in offence and defence). However, his empathy for his humans (and vice-versa) fit into this "real" dog, who appears to have died from grief when his military master was killed by a bomb.

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UK soldier, loyal dog, make final journey togetherby JILL LAWLESS UK soldier, loyal dog, make final journey together


LONDON - Liam and Theo were a team, fast friends doing a dangerous job — searching out roadside bombs laid by insurgents in Afghanistan.

The jovial British soldier and his irrepressible dog worked and played together for months, and died on the same day. On Thursday they came home together, flown back to Britain in a sombre repatriation ceremony for the soldier remembered for his empathy with animals and the companion he loved.

Lance Cpl. Liam Tasker, a dog handler with the 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 22-month-old bomb-sniffing springer spaniel mix. The dog suffered a fatal seizure hours later at a British army base.

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.

"I think we often underestimate the grieving process in dogs," said Elaine Pendlebury, a senior veterinarian with animal charity PDSA. "Some dogs react very severely to their partner's loss.