Cpl Kane Tiller with EDD Sharne (now retired) with RAE coat and proudly wearing her Canine Service Medal and War Dog Operational Medal
Four-legged hero Sharne is the most deployed Explosive Detection Dog from the RAE in Australian history
April 24, 2016 12:00am
Corporal Kane Tiller and Sharne in her military coat with medals at Holsworthy Army Base.
ON a minus-ten-degree night in 2011, a man and his dog lie sleeping in their swag. When the sun rises in the early hours in Afghanistan, they wake and after a feed, begin work.
On this day it’s a combat mission to search for explosives on the sandy road to the north, on another it might be to investigate a suspected enemy compound.
But their routine is always the same: the dog leads the way, the men and women follow behind.
At 12 or 13-years-old, Military Working Dog (MWD) Sharne is retired and enjoying life at home with Corporal Kane Tiller, his wife and their children.
And while her greatest love is reserved for tennis balls and barbecued treats, this 17kg Kelpie Staffy cross is a heroine.
Corporal Kane Tiller with former military dog Sharne dressed in her best coat and army medals. Picture: Melvyn Knipe
Sharne has served as an Explosive Detection Dog (EDD) in Afghanistan four times, making her the most deployed EDD in Australian military history.
Cpl Tiller — chief trainer of the EDD Section at the School of Military Engineering at Holsworthy — served with Sharne on three of these deployments.
“If you ask any soldier, ‘what do you reckon about the doggies?’ they all have a story to tell. The dogs have had an impact on every soldier deployed to Afghanistan or to other areas, even in Iraq now. You can’t calculate the number of lives they have saved,” he said.
About half of all EDDs come from rescue shelters and animal welfare organisations who contact military dog handlers if they think they have an animal that might be suitable for work in a war zone.
Kelpie Cross Sharne may be retired now but she still has plenty of energy. Picture: Melvyn Knipe
Sharne was found tied to a post with no food or water at a property in Queensland in 2005, she weighed just 8kg when she was taken to an animal shelter.
It’s a far cry from where she is now — arguably (and according to Cpl Tiller) the greatest MWD of all.
She has worked with handlers in some of the most high-risk and high-stress conditions experienced by military personnel and animals in war zones.
She has found thousands of explosive devices and was a comfort to both dogs and men when Sapper Darren Smith and his EDD Herbie were killed by an explosive device in Afghanistan in 2010. For that, she is loved dearly.
Sapper Darren Smith and his explosive detection dog Herbie who were killed in 2010 while on patrol in a Taliban hotspot. Picture: Australian Defence Force.
“I once told my wife, ‘Sharne is the only other woman I would rather spend time with than you’,” Cpl Tiller said.
Sharne’s life now involves cuddles, lots of treats and walks to school in the morning. She steals food off plates and sleeps inside.
On Anzac Day, Sharne will accompany Cpl Tiller and his family, colleagues and friends to the dawn service at the School of Military Engineering.
Sharne will wear her best coat and the two medals she has won for her service to country.
Corporal Kane Tiller says he couldn’t calculate how many lives Sharne has saved.