Derbyshire fire investigator and Dexter the dog to retire from service

The East Midlands’ fire services dog handler and his popular four-legged companion are set to retire.

Monday, 9th May 2022, 10:29 am

Dexter, the fire investigation dog for the East Midlands, and his handler Dave Cross, will be retiring at the end of May.

Dave Cross became the first regional dog handler in 2004, covering Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire alongside his canine companions.

In 2014, as the previous fire dog, Freckle, a springer spaniel, was reaching retirement, Dave received a call from South Yorkshire Police to say they may have found a new recruit.

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At just 16-weeks-old, Dexter became the third dog in the team, and over the last eight years he has been well known for his fire boots, wagging tail, and big smile.

However, Dave described the early days with Dexter as a ‘nightmare’, due to his unwillingness to go mad for tennis balls.

Talking to BBC Radio Derby, Dave said: “Initially we didn’t think he was going to make it.

"He wasn’t interested in tennis balls at all, obviously he’s trained to find tennis balls.

Dexter has been well known for his four red-booted paws. Photo credit:

"We finally got him going with a squeaky ball, so his nickname became Search Dog Squeaky for that reason.”

Since pairing up, Dave and Dexter have assisted in around 200 jobs a year, including many high-profile cases that have seen arsonists and murderers locked behind bars.

Dave said there has been ‘lots of good memories’ among the difficult cases. “I’ve learnt tons over the years. It’s not a job if you enjoy it, and I’ve just enjoyed it all my career.

"All the way through Dexter’s career he’s been a part of our family... hopefully in retirement that will stay the same.”

Dave Cross and Dexter are retiring from East Midlands fire service. Photo credit:
The pair have served together for eight years. Photo credit: