Barney Wins Hero Dog Title!

Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service's Fire Investigation Dog won the Hero Dogs title at the Dogs Trust Honours ceremony after winning a public vote.

Barney's won the coveted award just months before his retirement.  He's spent 4 years sniffing out the causes of fires at more than 200 fire sites across the Thames Valley.  He can smell anything an arsonist might use to start a fire - like petrol or lighter fluid.

Barney had a year of specialist training and when he's out at the scene of the fire he wears a reflective harness and special boots to protect his paws from things like glass and nails.

His specially trained nose is actually more accurate and more sensitive than electronic equipment.  He can search large areas quickly and without disturbing other important evidence - which means investigators can do their jobs quicker.

His handler Kerry adopted the black collie cross with white chest and white feet from an RSPCA rescue centre as a puppy 8 years ago - and he was a family pet before he started sniffing out arsons.

Kerry told Heart: "It's a real honour, I mean he's always been a hero to me, but just to have that recognition is really wonderful.  I think he really deserves it.  He's such a lovely dog, not only just in his work and what he does there, but he goes out with the community safety team to their events to publicise safety messages"

"Fame has clearly not gone to his head. By the end of the ceremony he'd fallen asleep on his bean bag." 

When Barney retires in September, his responsibilities will be handed over to Ember - a 4 year old Labrador - who's been working alongside him and Kerry for 2 years.