Sandra Lee

AUSTRALIA’S best known and much-loved war dog, Sarbi, will have a new fur-ever home – and her thousands of fans will be able to visit her.

Sarbi will “live” on in perpetuity in the heart of the Australian War Memorial when a new exhibition opens next week with the hero hound as the star attraction.

Sarbi back on Australian soil

Sarbi back on Australian soil

The mortal remains of the highly decorated Explosive Detection Dog were donated to the war memorial by her trainer and handler, Warrant Officer David Simpson (ret) and his wife, Kira, and have been preserved in taxidermy.

“Sarbi looks really good. I am very confident people, especially children, will be attracted to her,” memorial director, Dr Brendan Nelson told me. “Dave gave advice on Sarbi’s characteristic pose…she has her paw up and that nice smiling face.”

Sarbi died from brain cancer in early 2015. The 12-year-old had completed three deployments to Afghanistan with Simpson as part of the elite EDD Section in the Australian Army. She has the highest number of decorations of any war animal, among them the prestigious Purple Cross for animals that have shown outstanding courage in service to humans.

She is one of dozens of highly skilled sniffer dogs who have served in Afghanistan since 2002, saving the lives of thousands of their fellow two-legged soldiers by seeking out the enemy’s lethal explosive devices.

“I think Sarbi, in representing all of these dogs, stimulates our imagination to reflect on the loyal and loving nature of these animals and their skills,” Dr Nelson said.

Sarbi with her signature tell - her paw raised

Sarbi with her signature tell – her paw raised

“The bond between these dogs and their handlers is just as strong as that as between the men and women themselves.”

The beautiful Newfoundland-Labrador cross joins other preserved four-legged heroes at the memorial including a horse, which represents the Light Horsemen of the Australian Imperial Force, and a camel, which also served in the First World War in the Camel Corps. My bet is that Sarbi will become as popular as the legendary racehorse, Phar Lap, who is on display at Museum Victoria.

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Australia’s most loved and decorated canine war hero, Explosive Detection Dog Sarbi, has died after a short battle with brain cancer.EDD Sarbi

The Australian Army’s four-legged Digger passed away on Friday with her loving handler, Warrant Officer David Simpson, and his wife, Kira, by her side.

“Unfortunately, her condition had deteriorated quickly over the last four weeks and her quality of life was no longer acceptable,” WO Simpson said on Sarbi’s Facebook page.

“Sarbi had a wonderful life serving Australia as an EDD and as a pet at home for the last five years.”

Sarbi was awarded the highest military honour for canine warriors, the War Dog Operational Medal, as well as the prestigious Purple Cross by the RSPCA for her services in war-time.

The beautiful Newfoundland-Labrador retriever cross suffered several seizures in recent weeks and underwent a spinal tap MRI and CT Scan, which detected a tumour in her brain.

She was 12.

As I wrote in my book, Saving Private Sarbi, the plucky pooch went missing during a life-and-death ambush between the elite SAS and the enemy Taliban in Khas Uruzgan, about 100km north-east of Tarin Kot in Afghanistan in 2008.

Shrapnel from an enemy bomb sliced through her leash, separating her from Simpson and in the chaos and bloodshed of battle, she got lost. She was the first Australian military working dog to go missing in action. [click to continue…]

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