Ruby shines in the Fire Investigation team


Ruby, the springer spaniel with a proven track record for fire investigation, is joining the HFRS Fire Investigation team.

Eager Ruby can't wait to get started in her new role. Eager Ruby can’t wait to get started in her new role.

Ruby was trained and used operationally by Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service until August 2014 when sadly funding was cut and her handler and Ruby were made redundant. At a chance meeting at the Fire Service College, fire investigation search dogs Millie and Harvey were approached by Ruby who asked if there were any vacancies within the Hampshire Fire Investigation team.

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Countdown to Crufts

Less than a week before millie @hantsfiredogs and myself head off for the NEC in Birmingham for Crufts 2014. We are guests of @WaggFoods our food sponsors so should be a fantastic day. Come and say hi and watch millie and myself show what we are best at.

Our uniforms are now pressed and ironed and ready to go



History of the Fire Investigation Dogs

Pat Lyon and OdinRichard Gibbons with Nelson and CharlieClive Gregory and StarStarOdin and SimbaClive Gregory and Star

The first Fire Investigation Search Dog was introduced into the UK’s West Midlands Fire Service in 1996. The dog ‘STAR’ and handler Fire Investigator, Clive Gregory were trained by Karenswood International Ltd and based at West Midlands Fire Service HQ in the centre of Birmingham, England.

The funding for this team and several further teams was kindly donated by Eagle Star Insurance Ltd and subsequently on being taken over by Zurich Financial Services, a subsidiary of the Zurich Insurance Group.

More Dog Teams followed with Bob Forster and ‘Star’ in Tyne & Wear Fire Service, Dave Peplow with ’Burnie’, Pete ‘Kiwi’ Simmons and ‘Katie’ from Surrey Fire & Rescue. Next came Nick Busby and ‘Titan’ from Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue. Two dogs and handlers joined the UK fight against arson from the Fire Service of Northern Ireland (Names of Handlers and Dogs omitted for security reasons). The next team trained were Nick Miles and dog ’Cappa’ who worked for the Devon Fire Service and about this time Richard Gibbons and his dog ‘Nelson’ from Cornwall also became operational. Dave Myers and dog ‘Phoenix’ were operational in Northumberland. The last dog team to be trained under the Zurich sponsorship scheme were Pat Lyon and his dog ’Odin’ in 2000.

The group continues to grow as the demand for the dog teams progressed other specialist trainers apart from Karenswood International have trained teams for the UK Fire Service. These trainers all produced dogs to the national level of competence and are continuing to supply quality dog and handler teams. They are:- South Yorkshire Police, Surrey Police, SCS (Lancashire) and CPG Associates (Midlands).

In 2001 The Chief and Assistant Chief Fire Officers Association (CACFOA) requested that the UK Handlers form an Association to provide a ‘Guide to Best Practice’ for the UK Fire Investigation Dog and Handler Teams. The purpose of the ‘Guide’ would be to assemble all the facts and considerations in one place so that future Chief Fire Officers do not have to waste time and effort in re-inventing the wheel. The Guide to Best Practice was published by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in 2004. and contains items such transport, kennelling, training requirements and cost considerations of deploying a Fire Investigation Search Dog Team.

The UK Fire Investigation Dogs continue to go from strength to strength as time passes when it has been recognised by Fire Service Managers that besides their operational role these teams can play a vital role in community education and fire safety


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Watch Out Crufts……Harvey and Millie will be in town


On the 7th March 2014 Millie @hantsfiredogs and myself will be attending this years Crufts. We will be guests of Harringtons Pet Foods (the sister company of Wagg Foods) in Hall 1 stand 66 at the NEC Birmingham. Along with demonstrations from Millie and myself there will also be competitions and people can purchase a goodie bag containing treats, a treat holder and money off vouchers. There is also a professional photographer there taking photos free of charge which people can purchase after the event. Come along and say hi

A Working Sheep Dog

The Border Collie was originally called A Working Sheepdog and was known as the shepherds companion. Border Collie is now the breed’s recognised title but you will still find that the International Sheep Dog Society’s registration cards read ‘this is to certify that The Working Sheepdog (Border Collie)is registered etc’.  The Kennel Club’s classification of a Working Sheepdog can be a cross breed, i.e. a dog that looks like a collie but has no formal registration to prove its breeding.  This often leads to some confusion and you will find more about it on our Breeding and Stud page.  To shepherds and the majority of collie owners the title means a dog that works sheep and any dog with those capabilities will usually carry good breeding.

There are many misconceptions about this wonderful breed and many are born of a lack of knowledge and of ill informed information. There are many books and websites pouring out such information and causing confusion for both present and potential owners.

Also we must use common sense when we hear such derogatory remarks, for the breed that we have today was bred by those same people who are being accused of not breeding for temperament, and those shepherds were the ones who kept breeding on good lines. If we have a problem in temperament today then we must look to modern and commercialised breeding for the root of the problem not to the ones who spent a century giving us strong gentle dogs.

So one myth expelled, the shepherds who bred these dogs originally did breed for good temperament. This isn’t to say they didn’t have throwbacks but those dogs didn’t go into the gene pool.



To state that they should all be on working homes is fine but we don’t have enough shepherds or sheep in this country to provide them all with working homes. So let’s get real. They do not thrive on being kept shut in a house with no exercise, they do not enjoy being cooped up with no exercise, they don’t like being pulled and nipped by children, they don’t like being shouted at, but what dog does enjoy any of those things?  Contrary to common belief collies are very sensitive, yes even the bolshy ones. The quieter and calmer these dogs are handled the better they respond. No, they don’t want to be at the top of a high rise flat but neither is the answer to buy an acre of land and let them run wild on it. They need parenting, they need to be loved, they need to belong and they need both mental and physical boundaries.

They don’t have to be doing agility or any other of the disciplines. Collies were around long before these events were ever thought of and they survived. In fact if not handled correctly some of the disciplines can really wind them up. They do need a sensible low energy diet, they do need teaching how to walk on a lead and they do need a pack leader – not a dominant aggressive one, but one who understands them and their needs.


They don’t need hours of walking every day, they just need a sensible walk, some quiet and constructive mental stimulation and a quiet time to themselves where they can rest and actually enjoy their own company. Dogs are perfectly capable of being content and quiet if we allow them to be.  There are far too many collies in rescue and, sadly, many of them are young dogs who have been taken in to rescue because their owners can’t cope with them. This is not the fault of the breed and in many cases nor is it the fault of the owner, but a mixture of poor advice and training techniques that wind collies up rather than teach them patience.


A dog gives love unconditionally.

Good breeding is essential and I would urge anyone looking for a puppy not to be swayed by countless accolades, they mean nothing if the dog hasn’t been bred compatibly, you need to see parents, grandparents and any other sons and daughters. I would also recommend buying from someone who is breeding for a puppy for themselves rather than one of the many commercial breeders.

Before deciding on having a Border Collie you need to ask one question, “How much of myself am I prepared to give.” Border Collies are very intelligent and sensitive, being a part of your life for a game with a ball, a half hour walk or a weekly training session isn’t enough, they need to be part of your life and they need a leader who is strong, quiet, gentle and understanding. The dogs know what they need the rest is up to us.

A Simple Beauty  

The Border Collie is the epitome of all we may ever desire in a dog, a friend and a partner. Honesty, integrity and loyalty are second nature to a collie and they will work until they can go no further. Yet for all their willingness to give they are not submissive, they are proud of their heritage and they do not suffer fools gladly. Look beyond the colour of the coat and the cloak they wear labelled ‘dog’, search inside and reach its soul for once there you will be trapped in a world of unbelievable love and honesty. You will have found true beauty, for the wonderful qualities within this breed are always there waiting to be unlocked and are what make it truly beautiful. Drink in its grace, speed and stamina, for rarely has so much to come together so perfectly in so small a package.


Taken form an article by Barbara Sykes

My Mate Millie

Millie Porchester

Millie, is a three year old black and white springer spaniel, she joined Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service in October 2012 having been generously donated to the service by Vikkas Canine Services, having completed eight weeks of initial training. At this point she was already locating and indicating the presence of ignitable liquids. The next six months were spent bonding with her new handler, Watch Manager Andy Earl and preparing to challenge the certification process by training alongside HFRS’s  experienced Fire Investigation Search Dogs Saxon and Inca (also sponsored by Wagg Foods).  Andy and Millie attended the Fire Service College at Moreton in the Marsh where their performance was successfully assessed against the National Occupational Performance Criteria required of Fire Investigation Search Dog Handler and Dog Teams. In order to maintain this certification Andy and Millie repeat this certification process on an annual basis.

You can keep up to date on Millie’s progress on Twitter @HantsFireDogs

Sponsored By Wagg Foods



Wagg Foods now sponsor me by sending me food parcels each month. They are great supporter of fire dogs throught the country sponsoring many of the fire dogs such as Saxon, Inca and Millie @hantsfiredogs. To see their fantastic range of Dog, Cat and small animal feeds take a look at their website or check them out on twitter at @WaggFoods.