**UPDATE December 28, 2015**
In the coming year, the U.K.’s People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) will award Diesel the PDSA Dickin Medal.
“When news emerged of Diesel’s death there was a huge outpouring of grief,” said PDSA Director General Jan McLoughlin. “As guardians of the world’s most prestigious animal awards programme, we were inundated by messages from members of the public to recognise his heroism.”
The medal acknowledges “devotion to duty in the theatre of conflict,” and the nature of Diesel’s death certainly proves his qualification for the honor.
Diesel will be the 66th recipient of the medal, joining many other dogs, pigeons, horses, and a cat.
**UPDATE December 14, 2015**
On the morning of the French police raid in Paris, no one anticipated that anyone would lose their life. But those whose lives were saved ultimately have Diesel, the police dog sent to search the building, to thank. According to the Daily Mail‘s translation, his handler (who will remain unnamed as per French police custom) recounted that his death happened much too quickly to process:
He searched the first room, which was clear. He then went into the second room. I saw him rush forward. I think he’d found someone. Then I lost sight of him and there shots went off. And that was it.
Sometimes, when emotion threatens to overtake us in the wake of an animal’s death, it helps to simply look at the facts. And the fact of the matter is this: Diesel most definitely saved a man’s life that day, if not the lives of several members of the police force.
And while his loss is certainly hard to swallow, several families were able to greet their loved ones at the end of the day because of his sacrifice.
“I didn’t have to tell my family that Diesel had died,” said his handler. “They had been following the events on the news and learned of his death from the press.”
The two had certainly had a very special bond, and over the course of their relationship they embarked on more missions than the officer can remember. As with many handlers and their working dogs, Diesel was not just a partner—he was a friend. And he was certainly a dog who very much enjoyed his job! The pup’s handler told the Daily Mail:
He loved to play, everything he learned was through play. And he loved his food—it was his reward. […] He was very quick on the up-take. Once the order had been given he knew exactly what he had to do.
Now that’s a dog with a flair for his work. His human recalled that Diesel was one of many who trained to become a police dog, undergoing a three-month training course for patrol dogs, after which only the very best were chosen to become assault dogs in the RAID unit of which Diesel was a member.
His sacrifice shook everyone—his handler and his family, the police force, and the world—but it will not be in vain. In a show of solidarity with France, Russia donated a puppy to carry on Diesel’s work and honor his memory. Named Dobrynia, this little guy has a lot to live up to.
And while his handler will never forget what happened that morning, his recounting of Diesel’s life and work gives us all reason to smile. Once again, R.I.P. Diesel, and good luck and many treats to the puppy who takes your place.
Diesel, a 7-years-young Belgian Shepherd on the police force in Paris, sacrificed his life early this morning and saved the lives of his entire team. In the days since the terrorist attack that shook the country and sparked an outpouring of support from people all over the globe, police have been conducting counter-terror raids in search of the “mastermind” behind it all.
As police prepared to storm an apartment building in Saint-Denis, where the man in question was thought to be hiding, they sent Diesel inside to “assess the level of danger” before they followed.
Moments later, a female suicide bomber took several shots and killed Diesel. Because of his sacrifice, no officers were killed, though five are reportedly injured.
The official Twitter account for Police Nationale tweeted about Diesel’s death soon after, and it was retweeted more than 13,000 times in minutes. The hashtag #Jesuisunchien (meaning “I’m a dog”) has gone viral with people paying tribute to Diesel and the working dogs like him.
[INFO] Diesel, malinois de 7 ans, chienne d'assaut du #RAID a été tuée par les terroristes dans l'opération en cours #SaintDenis
— Police Nationale (@PNationale) November 18, 2015
One police spokesman says that dogs like Diesel are “indispensable” to the police force, and we know his death will not be taken any more lightly than the roughly 130 casualties from Friday’s attacks.
R.I.P., Diesel. You served your country well, and it won’t be forgotten.