LONDON – Good boy!
Buster, a 6-year-old Springer spaniel, earned more than a pat on the head Tuesday when he was awarded Britain's highest animal bravery medal for his role in breaking a resistance cell in Iraq (search).
The British army canine received the Dickin Medal (search) at a ceremony at London's Imperial Museum for discovering a cache of weapons and explosives in Safwan, southern Iraq, in March.
Buster's handler, Sgt. Danny Morgan, said the building was thought to be the headquarters of extremists responsible for attacks on British forces, but that soldiers searching it had found nothing.
He said Buster, however, persisted, eventually stopping and staring at a wardrobe. When the wardrobe was moved a piece of tin fell from the back, revealing a cavity.
Inside were Russian AK47 assault rifles (search), a pistol, six grenades, ammunition, 4.4 pounds of cocaine and propaganda material.
Morgan, 38, who is based at the military dogs' training school in Aldershot, southern England, said it was "fantastic" for Buster to be recognized for succeeding where humans had failed.
"It is such an honor, not just for Buster, for myself and the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, but also for all the dogs that were deployed" in Iraq, Morgan said.
The medal was presented by Princess Alexandra, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II and patron of the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals. The charity's founder, Maria Dickin, created the medal in 1943 to honor animals that served with distinction with British forces during World War II.
Buster is the 60th recipient of the award, which has been given to 32 World War II carrier pigeons, 23 dogs, three horses and a ship's cat.