Scotland’s first underwater sniffer dog trained to find bodies in the River Clyde retires

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Scotland’s only underwater sniffer dog trained to find human bodies in the River Clyde has retired.

Hero dog Barra has used his very special skills to reunite grieving families with their lost loved ones.

The 12-year-old springer spaniel began training as a puppy and was able to find human remains by standing on the bow of a boat and sniffing the air.

Its owner Iain Marshall announced on Tuesday that due to mobility issues, Barra will be retiring after 11 years of service.

The coastguard volunteer said: “Today Barra did his last day of work on the river.

“Now, at 12, his mobility worries.

“I’m sure you’ll all agree that after 11 years of service, it’s time for him to put his paws up and enjoy his retirement.”



Barra retires after 11 years of service on the banks of the River Clyde

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Iain, from Helensburgh, West Dunbartonshire, spent a year training Barra using pork.

When he smells something, he barks, scratches the deck and sits down. It rises if the boat leaves the range of the scent.

Barra found his first missing person while still in training and was admitted to active duty in September 2011.

When Barra first qualified, Iain, then 44, told how his dog’s incredible work brought comfort to families in tragic times.



Barra was trained as a puppy and could then smell human remains by sitting in the bow of a boat and sniffing the air
Barra was trained as a puppy and could then smell human remains by sitting in the bow of a boat and sniffing the air

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He previously told the Daily Record: “We are getting calls from police and coastguards all over the country to help with the search for missing people.

“Not knowing where someone’s body is can be really awful for their family.

“Before Barra, we had to wait for the bodies to float to the top, which could take months.

“Barra is an amazing dog. He lives with me and my family and we love him to bits.”

Residents of Greater Glasgow have taken to social media to hail Barra for her “outstanding” efforts over the years.

April Mackie wrote, “Enjoy your retirement, Barra.

“You have changed so many lives with your work.

“You really are an amazing dog.”

Toni-Ann Hope added: “Enjoy your retirement Barra, you deserve it.

“An exceptional dog who has done an incredible job over the years.”

Chad Kirkbride posted: “Happy retirement, Barra.

“Raise your paws, relax and enjoy your retirement.

“You really and truly deserve it.”

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