Having a blast: Barrie the rescue dog saved from Syrian rubble by British bomb disposal expert is among the frontrunners for Crufts

  • Sean Laidlaw was working as a bomb disposal expert in Syria when he found dog 
  • He heard whimpering and found Barrie lying with her four dead siblings 
  • He adopted the pooch which was flown home and now helps him with PTSD 
  • Kate Middleton’s brother announced finalists for Friends for Life award at Crufts 

A dog who was pulled from rubble in a Syrian war-zone as a terrified puppy by a bomb disposal expert has been announced as a finalist for Crufts.

Former Royal Engineer Sean Laidlaw was working as a bomb disposal expert in Syria when he heard whimpering from the wreckage of a school that had exploded and collapsed in 2018. 

Upon further inspection he found the source of the noise was a tiny, abandoned puppy, surrounded by her four dead siblings. He gave the nervous dog food and water.

Mr Laidlaw, 31, now credits Barrie – who is a girl – with saving his life after he struggled with PTSD – and the pooch was announced by James Middleton as one of the five competing for the Friends for Life award at this year’s Crufts.

Former Royal Engineer Sean Laidlaw, was working as a bomb disposal expert in Syria when he heard whimpering from the wreckage of a school that had exploded and collapsed in 2018

The annual award celebrates the unique relationship people have with their dogs, the important role they play throughout our lives and the support they give us in the face of adversity. 

Mr Laidlaw, from Essex, had rescued the nervous puppy only four months after the U.S.-led coalition had recaptured Raqqa from ISIS and was tasked with finding thousands of IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) they had hidden in buildings.

But he was forced to return home from the minefields for some leave believing he would return two weeks later – but his contract was then ended and he thought he may never see Barrie again. 

But they were reunited after thousands of pounds were raised to have the young dog flown home – and it was smuggled from Syria to Iraq, Jordan and then to France before coming to Britain seven months on.

Mr Laidlaw, 31, now credits Barrie – who is a girl – with saving his life after he struggled with PTSD – and the pooch was announced as one of the five competing for the Friends for Life award at this year’s Crufts

Mr Laidlaw, from Essex, had rescued the nervous puppy only four months after the U.S.-led coalition had recaptured Raqqa from ISIS and was tasked with finding thousands of IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) they had hidden in buildings 

Mr Laidlaw previously said: ‘Meeting her was the best day of my life. Without her I don’t know if I would have ever been able to climb out of that dark pit of despair after Afghanistan, to acknowledge the atrocities that I witnessed as a soldier or learn how to be a civilian.

‘Today, I work part-time as an assistant paramedic and run a fitness training business with a friend. Although I still have moments when I can feel myself getting anxious, I just close my laptop and play with Barrie.

‘With her around, I have clarity and a purpose. And although people say I saved Barrie’s life, the truth is that she saved mine.’  

It comes as dog-lover James Middleton announced the five pooches competing for the Friends for Life award at this year’s Crufts.

Kate Middleton’s brother, 32, attended the prestigious canine competition last year as a Pets As Therapy (PAT) volunteer.

But they were reunited after thousands of pounds were raised to have the young dog flown home – and it was smuggled from Syria to Iraq, Jordan and then to France before coming to Britain seven months on 

He has previously spoken out about how his dogs – Luna, Inka, Ella and Mabel – helped him through his mental health battle.

This year James, an experienced Cocker Spaniel breeder, is an ambassador for the Friends for Life award. 

He teamed up with The Kennel Club for a photoshoot in London’s Green Park to unveil the five hero dogs that will compete in the public vote.

This year’s finalists include a German Shepherd Police dog called Wolfie, who worked tirelessly as a firearms support dog and a close canine colleague for his owner Louise McMullen for the West Midlands Police.

Dog-lover James Middleton posed with his beloved hounds today to announce the five pooches competing for the Friends for Life award at this year’s Crufts


Kate Middleton’s brother has previously spoken out about how his dogs – Luna, Inka, Ella and Mabel – helped him through his mental health battle

James 32, attended the prestigious canine competition last year as a Pets As Therapy (PAT) volunteer. This year he is an ambassador for the Crufts Friends for Life award

Wolfie was left with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a car chase in pursuit of criminals resulted in an accident.

Also among the finalists is hearing dog Cocker Spaniel Jovi, who saved his owner Graham Sage, from Wallingford, Oxfordshire, from the fear and isolation of being deaf and enables him to lead as normal a life as possible as a teacher and rugby coach.

Leo the Golden Retriever therapy dog, who has saved countless children’s lives and gives emotional support to children who are seriously ill and in intensive care units, is also up for the award, after being put forward by owner Lyndsey Uglow.  

Pictured left to right: Sean Laidlaw with Barrie, Lyndsey Uglow with Leo, Graham Sage with Jovi, Hayley Byrne-Ingle with Ellie, ambassador for the Friends for Life award James Middleton and Louise McMullen with Wolfie at a launch event for this year’s Crufts

 


Also among the finalists is hearing dog Cocker Spaniel Jovi, who saved his owner Graham Sage, from Wallingford, Oxfordshire, pictured together left, from the fear and isolation of being deaf, and Hayley Byrne-Ingle and her labradoodle Ellie, both from Loughton, pictured right

Hayley Byrne-Ingle and her labradoodle Ellie, both from Loughton, are the final pair that have made it into the last five.

The crossbreed became a lifeline to Hayley, who lost her sister through suicide, giving her much needed support and a reason for living, enabling her to take part in lots of canine activities. 

Hayley and Ellie have previously qualified in several categories at Crufts and picked up two trophies.  

This year’s Crufts takes place at the NEC in Birmingham from March 5-8. 

James pictured on the Pets As Therapy stand at Crufts, in Birmingham, with two of his dogs in 2018

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