“Dog is God spelt backwards.” I came across this quote recently whilst reading the book – It’s All About Treo. And it kinda sums it all for me – best friend, most loyal companion, epitome of unconditional love and respect, and the closest one can get to a perfect being.
I love books and if its a book about a dog, I love it even more. So it’s no surprise that when I received this book from my mother-in-law, I could not wait to get on with it. Having read the summary at the back of the book, I presumed it to be yet another book on the horrors of the war in Afghanistan, but this time, as described by a handler and his dog. To this end, I wasn’t wrong. However, what really bowled me over and left me in complete awe was the kind of work a dog-unit (a dog and its handler), does in a war.
The soldiers, the snipers, the bomb squads – I had heard, watched and read a great deal about their valour and bravery against the Taliban. But this was the first time, I had read about how a dog helped save numerous lives by ‘sniffing’ out the hundreds of IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and ammunition, carefully laid out by the Taliban to maim and kill as many of the security forces as possible.
The book is about an incredible Labrador called Treo and his handler, Sgt. Dave Heyhoe, who were sent to Sangin, one of the most dangerous places in Afghanistan – also referred to as IED central in military lingo. Their main job was to clear areas and roads of explosives planted by the Taliban so as to enable troops to move ahead and reclaim Taliban strongholds without getting blown up first.
The book describes in great detail the relationship between a dog and its master. No matter what the circumstances, no matter how intense the pressure, Treo proved his unwavering loyalty to Dave by following out his instructions even in the face of danger. This was rewarded by Dave’s fiercely protective and unconditional love for Treo. Both man and dog were one inseparable team. A team so formidable that they became Taliban’s primary targets and a team so efficient that soon soldiers in the area refused to go out on patrol, unless accompanied by the dog-team.
An honest account of what a man and his dog put themselves through in order to save the lives of countless men fighting a war in a foreign land against the most ruthless of enemies, All About Treo, is a most deserving tribute to all such dogs and their handlers, who have made invaluable contributions to war efforts across the world.