Devon Troops Save Man's Best Friend

Serving as a bomb-sniffing dog of war, he has earned the title of man's best friend.

So when black Labrador Hobo came under fire in Afghanistan's notorious Helmand Province, troops battled to save him.

Now, just 10 days after he was blasted three times with shrapnel, he is ready to return to the front line.

Hobo was injured on July 21 in a Taliban ambush while on operation in dangerous Nahr-e Saraj.

His patrol was forced to take cover in a compound as insurgents attacked with small arms fire and rocket propelled grenades.

Hobo recovering in hospital

But moments later, four grenades came flying over the compound wall and peppered the dusty floor.

Hobo, who lay flat on the ground, was pelted with razor sharp shards of metal.

The dog, who is trained to seek out deadly explosives, was hit in the neck, abdomen and rear.

Some fragments were so hot they cauterised two of his injuries immediately while another piece cut straight through his neck and left him bleeding heavily.

Captain George Shipman, serving with 29 Commando Royal Artillery attached to A Company, 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, leapt into action and fought to keep the dog alive.

The 28-year-old, from Plymouth said: "There were four loud explosions, the dust was kicked up and it was difficult to see what was happening.

"We realised quickly that Hobo had been hit. He was bleeding heavily from the base of his neck.

"I administered a blood clotting agent and applied pressure and a field dressing to stem the bleeding and protect from infection. Hobo remained really calm throughout and just stood there while we treated him.

"I found it hard, harder than treating a human casualty because I couldn't explain what was going on.

"Hobo's become one of us, bounding around the patrol base all the time, so we're very fond of him - I've also got a two-year-old black lab, Oscar at home and Hobo reminds me so much of him.''

During the attack, a few members of the patrol suffered "fragmentation injuries'' and a US "Pedro'' medical evacuation helicopter was summoned.

Within 50 minutes Hobo - who will be three-years-old tomorrow - was on his way back to receive veterinary care at Camp Bastion.

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