5-minute listening: Hero sniffer dog given highest honour for saving British soldiers

  • Practise your English with our short listening exercises: play the audio linked below; answer the questions; and check the answers at the bottom of the page
  • This week’s podcast features a retired military dog who has been awarded a medal for his service in Afghanistan
Doris Wai |

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Retired RAF Police sniffer dog Hertz was awarded the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) Dickin Medal for valour for his work in Afghanistan. Photo: AP

Click on the video below for the audio (the script has been adapted from Agence France-Presse).

Play a Kahoot! game about this podcast as a class or with your friends by clicking on the link here.

Or play on your own below to test your understanding:


1. What is Hertz trained to do?
A. sniff out drugs
B. detect electronic gadgets
C. find explosives
D. search for and rescue missing people

2. What does it mean when someone shows “gallantry”?
A. They are polite and behave well towards other people.
B. They do a courageous act.
C. They enjoy doing dangerous things.
D. They like helping others.

3. How old is Hertz?
A. two
B. six
C. 10
D. 13

4. Why has Hertz retired according to the podcast?
A. He has some injuries.
B. He is too old to be a military dog.
C. He is no longer good at his job.
D. information not given

5. What example of “electronic communications equipment” is mentioned in the podcast?
A. mobile phones
B. laptops
C. digital cameras
D. two-way radios

6. Which of the following best describes a “civilian”?
A. the lowest-ranked member of an army
B. a person who is not a member of the police or the military
C. someone who pays money to the government
D. a person who takes care of police dogs

7. Where was Hertz born?
A. Croatia
B. Britain
C. Afghanistan
D. Germany

8. What exceptional skills did Hertz show as a puppy?
A. the ability to listen to and obey complicated commands
B. the knack for uncovering landmines
C. the talent for sniffing out evidence at crime scenes
D. the ability to spot drugs

9. What was Tanner and Hertz’s relationship?
A. Tanner rescued Hertz when he was a puppy.
B. Tanner adopted Hertz after he stopped being a police dog.
C. Tanner trained and was in charge of Hertz.
D. none of the above

10. Why was Hertz’s work at Camp Bastion important?
A. He alerted the people at Camp Bastion to enemies who tried to enter the premises.
B. He saved the lives of soldiers who were caught in crossfire.
C. He defused a time bomb planted in Camp Bastion.
D. He helped uncover dangerous items, which in turn saved many lives.

11. How long was Hertz stationed at Camp Bastion?
A. three months
B. 13 months
C. 30 months
D. three years

12. What does Captain Russ say about dogs working for the military?
A. Their work is invaluable and they play an important role in the military.
B. While they can be difficult to train, all army camps can benefit from having a military dog.
C. They are not as essential today as compared to a decade ago because of advancements in technology.
D. none of the above

13. When was the first PDSA Dickin Medal awarded?
A. before the first world war
B. during the second world war
C. in the 1980s
D. 2000

14. Which animal has not won a PDSA Dickin Medal according to the podcast?
A. dog
B. horse
C. cat
D. rat

15. Who are the recipients of the PDSA Dickin Medal?
A. soldiers who have served in the army for more than 10 years
B. soldiers who demonstrated courage and devotion
C. animals that have served in war
D. animals that helped soldiers recover from physical and mental trauma


1. B
2. B
3. C
4. D
5. A
6. B
7. A
8. D
9. C
10. D
11. B
12. A
13. B
14. D
15. C


Voice 1: A Royal Air Force dog who sniffed out mobile phones used to coordinate attacks from rebel groups in Afghanistan has been awarded a British animal charity’s top medal for gallantry.

Voice 2: The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals Dickin Medal, also known as the PDSA Dickin Medal, was awarded to Hertz, a 10-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer who is now retired, for his work protecting British and coalition troops in 2013.

Voice 1: Hertz was the first dog in British military history trained to detect electronic communications equipment, including mobile phones, which posed a significant threat to the lives of servicemen, women and civilians. According to PDSA director general Jan McLoughlin, Hertz helped saved the lives of many military personnel and civilians.

Voice 2: Born in Croatia, Hertz joined the Royal Air Force Police as a puppy after showing exceptional skills detecting drugs. The military sought training help from the UK Prison Service, which frequently uses dogs to sniff out electronic contraband.

Voice 1: Hertz and his handler, Warrant Officer Jonathan Tanner, were deployed to Britain’s sprawling Camp Bastion military base in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, where he prevented both intruder and insider attacks.

Voice 2: Many of the items Hertz found led directly to the gathering of intelligence about potential threats and attacks. His ability to remove potentially dangerous items also undoubtedly saved many lives.

Voice 1: During his 13-month tour of duty, there was not a single rocket attack on Camp Bastion. Royal Air Force Group Captain Russ Foster-Jones said Hertz’s work demonstrates just how important animals are to the armed forces, and the key life-saving roles that they play.

Voice 2: Since World War II, the PDSA Dickin Medal has been awarded to animals that show exceptional courage and devotion while serving in war. It is the highest award of its kind.

Voice 1: PDSA founder Maria Dickin first awarded the medal in 1943, and since then it has been won by many animals, including 37 dogs, 32 pigeons, four horses and a cat.

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