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Northern Ireland super-pooch is up for bravery award

By Emily Moulton

He may look like your average black Labrador retriever but Charco is far from average.

In fact this four-legged canine from Newcastle, Co Down, is actually a bit of a super-pooch.

Three years ago, Charco helped to save the life of a man who had become trapped in the rubble of his house which collapsed during the earthquake in Kashmir in Pakistan.

His efforts that day have now led to the hard-working Lab being shortlisted for a major award.

Charco has been shortlisted for the Hero Dog Award, part of the Dogs Trust Honours 2009, which are being held later this month.

His handler Neil Powell explained the nine-year-old had to work in some of the most treacherous conditions but never once failed to do as he was told.

“We arrived at a row of buildings which looked like they could collapse at any minute,” he said. “The heat was intense and Charco squeezed into a passage full of rubble. Despite continuing aftershocks he went to a corner and started barking.

“Sure enough, the rescue team managed to pull a young man alive out of a hole.”

However Kashmir is not the only natural disaster where Charco’s services were used.

In 2003 the pooch assisted at an earthquake in Algeria in which more than 2,000 people died.

Both times Charco had to spend six months in quarantine when he got back to the UK, which Mr Powell said he found very traumatic.

“At home in Northern Ireland he helps the Fire Service in search and rescue and once cut his feet badly on glass at a gas explosion,” Mr Powell added.

“Despite the bandages, he still wanted to get back to work.”

The Dogs Honours Trust awards will be held at London’s Hurlingham Club on May 19.

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