He has discovered more than 200 explosive devices since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February. His bomb-sniffing skills are hard to match. No wonder he has been awarded a medal for his services to the country.
Patron, a two-and-a-half-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, was presented with the award by none other than Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at a ceremony in Kyiv. It was also attended by Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau who visited the war-torn nation.
“Today, I want to award those Ukrainian heroes who are already clearing our land of mines,” Zelenskyy said in a statement after the ceremony. “And together with our heroes, a wonderful little sapper – Patron – who helps not only to neutralise explosives but also to teach our children the necessary safety rules in areas where there is a mine threat.”
The State Emergency Service of Ukraine posted a heartwarming video of the award ceremony on Telegram: Patron can be seen wagging his tail as his handler receives the award.
A mascot of Ukraine’s emergency services
The dog’s name means ammo and he has successfully sniffed out Russian mines and explosives in Chernihiv, a city in north-eastern Ukraine, saving several many lives and preventing injuries. He also acts as the mascot of the country’s emergency services.
The Terrier has been professionally trained by cynologists and is supposed to be performing in public exhibitions, showcasing how dogs can be formally trained to conduct specific tasks, according to a report in TODAY. But since the war broke out, he has been working on the frontlines.
“[Patron] works 24/7, as does a group of pyrotechnicians, and it will take about a year and a half to clean up the city,” Patron’s owner told TODAY Parents.
He loves cheese
He has learned to identify the smell of gunpowder and when he sniffs it out he signals to his owner, who then works with his colleagues to diffuse the explosives.
While Patron is quite the toughie, he also likes to do things that dogs do. The dog and his owner find time to play amid all that hard work.
“Patron just loves cheese,” Misha said. “He is a very active dog that likes to have a good run with other dogs and then, of course, sleep.”
Patron is already popular in Ukraine, as he regularly features in videos posted by officials in the country, as it continues to fight Russia. Now, the award has won him international fame.
On 1 May, Ukraine’s Centre for Strategic Communications and Information Security shared a clip of the Terrier on the job. He is seen digging for explosives.
“Patron the dog keeps working hard — just yesterday, he helped defuse 262 items of explosive ordnance near Cherhiniv. We are very proud of our very good boy,” it tweeted.
Patron has become a social media sensation, with over 236k followers on Instagram and 13,000 followers on Twitter. He has inspired several artists in Ukraine – illustrations and knitted replicas of him are popular.
A sketch of Patron urinating on a Russian missile wearing his signature safety vest is viral. Another features Patron in front of two backgrounds - one half showing a grassy park next to a ball, while the other features the remnants of a bombed building, reports BBC.
According to The New York Times, Patron is part of “Ukrainian efforts to control the war’s narrative with viral messaging”. It’s all part of the attempt to “strengthen Ukraine’s image”.
And it seems to be working. Patron is one war hero that the world won’t easily forget.