‘He was part of the family’ – Tributes to Hampshire’s international rescue dog

Byron in Japan Credit: HFRS

Byron in Japan Credit: HFRS

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has been paying tribute to ‘one of its own’, following the death of much-loved rescue dog Byron.

The 11 year old border collie was one of the most highly trained dogs in the world, and spent a decade searching for people at disaster sites.

He lived with handler Robin Furniss in Stockbridge, Hampshire, and had dealt with emergencies within the county as well as working on international disasters.

Byron in Japan with his handler Robin Furniss Credit: HFRS

Byron in Japan with his handler Robin Furniss Credit: HFRS

The experienced dog had been deployed to Japan to search for survivors after the tsunami hit in 2011 and had completed Urban Search and Rescue exercises in Germany and the Czech Republic.

Closer to home he had been called to collapsed buildings in London and even a gas explosion in Woolston.

Byron was one of the most highly trained dogs in the world Credit: HFRS

Byron was one of the most highly trained dogs in the world Credit: HFRS

He was a proper dog, among the best. He had a phenomenal nose and was a favourite of the team. He was extremely hard working and even though he lived with me I think he would have been offended to have been called a pet – he was part of the familyROBIN FURNISS, BYRON'S HANDLER
Byron kitted up and ready to go Credit: HFRS

Byron kitted up and ready to go Credit: HFRS

On Twitter Mark Bradley said it was “sad news” while HFRS Prince’s Trust called the bombshell “heartbreaking”.

Byron, right, with Shelley Credit: HFRS

Byron, right, with Shelley Credit: HFRS

HCCaninePhotography added “he was a joy to photograph” and Hartley Wintney posted: “an amazing dog”.

Byron passed on some of his skills to another dog Robin also looks after named Shelley.

The courageous canine died last week in relation to a spinal injury he picked up in training as a puppy.

He astounded top vets at the time by making a recovery and returning to work after a programme of medication, physiotherapy and hydrotherapy.