Sure little Emma Morgan misses her soldier-dad, Danny, who is serving in Iraq with Britain's Royal Army. But there's someone whose absence seems to sting even more—Buster, the family's springer spaniel, an explosive-sniffer extraordinaire who works as Sergeant Morgan's canine partner. Since the pair left their home in Alder-shot, England, in February, 5-year-old Emma "has sent may be two letters to me and at least 10 to Buster," says Morgan, 37. "She draws him pictures of him at home having picnics with the family."
Iraq isn't exactly proving to be a picnic for anybody. But 5½ -year-old Buster has definitely made plenty of new friends thanks to his role in a raid on a suspected terrorist hideout April 1. Altho
ugh British troops had come up empty in their sweep of the home, Buster quickly gave Sergeant Morgan the signal that he smelled weapons. Behind a wardrobe, soldiers found a piece of tin covering a hole—and in it a huge cache of arms and drugs. "It's brilliant, wasn't it?" says Morgan's wife, Nikki, 32, of the find, which led to the arrest of 16 suspected terrorists. "I'm really proud of them both."
It's no accident that Buster—who was rescued from a shelter about three years ago and teamed up with Morgan in Northern Ireland—became the first sniffer sent to Iraq. (Two other canines will soon join him.) During a previous tour in Kosovo, "soldiers would always ask for him, even if there were several dogs to choose from," says Warrant Officer Dave Franklin. "He's definitely seen more action than the majority of our soldiers."
On his current hitch Buster prefers to sleep next to his "dad," although he has his own kennel that can be fitted with a special protective cover and respirator in the event of a chemical attack. The kennel also offers protection from sandstorms—or overly zealous petting. In fact, Buster seems to have experienced only one real hardship so far in the Iraqi desert: "He misses trees," says Morgan. "It's the simple pleasures."
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