Hero rescue dog's twilight years at fire station

Source:Xinhua 02-09-21 09:09 Updated BJT
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NANJING, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- Ouyang Honghong, a fire department dog handler in Nanjing, east China's Jiangsu Province, walks his 14-year-old sniffer dog named Bingjie at the hill on the back of the fire station where he works.

Bingjie, a black-and-white English Springer Spaniel, is in its dotage, equivalent to approximately 100 years in humans, since most dogs enter their senior years at around seven years old.

The dog is deemed a hero as it once helped save 13 lives from rubbles of the deadly magnitude 8.0 earthquake that hit Wenchuan County of southwest China's Sichuan Province in 2008. Though Bingjie can no longer participate in rescue operations with Ouyang, its eyes are always on him while the trainer trains other young search and rescue dogs.

Bingjie's training and missions from the early years have left many strains and injuries on its body. The old dog has also been afflicted with chronic diseases and a decline in cardio-pulmonary function.

"It has poor hearing ability and chronic arthritis in hind legs. It even has difficulty chewing food. We have to soak its meals in milk or soup to make it easy to digest," said Ouyang.

Bingjie was paired up with Ouyang in 2007 during a dog training course. The duo has participated in numerous rescue missions during natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes and snowstorms.

"No matter how dangerous or difficult the mission was, Bingjie never held back," said Ouyang.

Although Bingjie now walks with a stagger, its eyes still shine with enthusiasm.

"Its persistence and passion for work really impress me," said Ouyang, adding that Bingjie did not stop searching until it found signs of life during the Wenchuan rescue mission.

Owing to its breed, Bingjie is small, flexible, has an acute sense of smell, and is easy to train, making search-and-rescue its forte.

"When we reached a local kindergarten, Bingjie promptly rushed to the ruins and started barking at a crevice," said Ouyang. "Then we followed Bingjie to the crevice and heard a child's faint cry for help."

With the help of a hydraulic ejector rod and life detector, rescuers successfully pulled a six-year-old girl out of the ruins. Bingjie continued to sniff over the rest of the ruins, searching for more lives.

Still authorized as a service dog at the fire service department in Nanjing, Bingjie seldom joins training due to its age and health conditions. Taking a walk with Ouyang and sunbathing are part of its daily routine. "We just want to offer Bingjie a good living environment so it can enjoy the rest of its life," said Ouyang.

Despite the age, Bingjie's skills continue to be active thanks to the early training. A single command from its instructor can make it alert from the state of relaxation. It can still find a hidden target in a box within two minutes.

"I have spent more time with Bingjie than with my families. For me, it is both my brother-in-arms and my family," Ouyang said. "Sometimes, it acts like a naughty child inviting me to play a ball, but keeps the ball in its mouth on purpose."

"I just want to spend time with it everyday, while it is alive," said Ouyang.

Editor: zhangrui
02-09-21 09:09 BJT
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