More of Neil's Story

Further Voluntary Work

The Northern Ireland Fire and rescue Service Urban Search and Rescue Team, have used two of the dogs trained by Neil, to assist in the search of collapsed structures for trapped persons. Sammy and Charco have since retired, having devoted their lives to this work. A third dog, Fern, is now retired as a drowned victim search dog. His other dogs Pepper, Dylan and Cracker, have all been responsible for locating people lost in the mountains or in earthquakes around the world.

In June, 2006, Cracker and Dylan were each awarded the Gold Medal for Valour, for their work in the mountains of Ireland and in the Turkish earthquakes, by the Peoples’ Dispensary for Sick Animals.

On 16th March, 2008, one of the people Fern located, was a man, who had drowned in the River Boyne at Navan, County Meath. Divers later recovered the man at a point 50 metres up stream from the place indicated by Fern.

During the Easter holidays, 2007, Fern also located the bodies of two teenagers who had drowned in Castlewellan Lake, County Down. The bodies, were recovered 10 feet from the marker buoy which had been placed by members of the NI Fire Rescue Service at the point located by Fern. Fern has now been succeeded by Nelly, a black and white springer spaniel.

Neil is currently the Training officer of the charity the Search and Rescue Dog Association, Ireland North where he continues to train mountain rescue search dogs and his own trailing search dog Magnus, a black and white American Coonhound.

Neil is also the Training Officer for Disability Assistance Dogs, a charity which helps disabled people to train their own assistance dog.

Commercial Work

Neil trained the world's first optical disc detection dogs, Lucky and Flo on behalf of the Motion Picture Association of America. As this had never before been achieved, he had to firstly establish whether DVDs had an odour detectable by dogs, and then bring both dogs up to an operational working standard. Together with Lucky and Flo, Neil then travelled round the world and as a team, they were responsible for locating many millions of pounds worth of illegally produced optical discs. Neil went on to train two more dogs, Manny and Paddy, who successfully worked on behalf of the Malaysian Government in their fight against optical disc piracy.

He has also trained several explosives search dogs which worked in the Middle East. In addition, he trained his own explosives search dog Charco and together they worked at the MCC cricket grounds at Lords during the Test Match series in 2003, 2004 and 2006 and in Canary Wharf and the O2 building in London.

In 2005, Neil trained a Labrador called Jolly to detect accelerants in the fight against arsonists. Following a suspicious incident, Jolly could identify the seat of a fire so that forensic officers knew exactly where to focus their attention for retrieving samples. These could later be used as evidence in any subsequent court proceedings. Jolly’s training took 12 weeks, after which he was assessed and qualified by a Fire Investigation Officer from London. He then travelled to Italy where he began working for the Torre Fire and K-9 Response Group in Bologna.

Today, Neil uses his expertise as a dog behaviourist and dog trainer to help distraught owners to teach their own pet dogs, to lead a more disciplined and happy life.

Neil and Cracker
Neil and his Dogs
    Cracker and Dylan.
    Cracker and Dylan recieving their Gold Medal.
    Neil with Lucky and Flow.
    Manny and Paddy.
    Neil and Charco at Lords.