Sixty years of service at one unit is almost unheard of in Army, but for recent retiree, Sergeant Ridgleigh Blue III, it passed in about nine years.
The Blue Heeler was farewelled by more than 600 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, soldiers at Gallipoli Barracks, all of whom had some fond memory of their unit mascot.
Major Robert Varco, of 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, said Sergeant Blue provided a welcome distraction during many cold nights when patrolling with the guard and kids loved playing with him during unit get-togethers.
“Due to his age, he can’t fulfil the full range of duties expected of a mascot and has undoubtedly reached his ceiling rank, so he is being retired to a loving home,” Major Varco said.
Sergeant Blue joined the unit in mid-2010 and enlisted in 2011. After completing his junior leaders’ courses he was promoted to corporal, before finally reaching the rank of sergeant in 2015.
Although he was generally well behaved, Sergeant Blue’s handler, Private Lee Larbalestier, said he was “very food-motivated”.
“Every day he tended to wander off from the guard room in search of more food around the barracks,” Private Larbalestier said.
“He’ll be retiring to a farm in South Australia, which will be a different environment for him, but he’ll have a lot of space to run around and there will be other dogs there as well.
“I’m definitely going to miss him; he’s been a really good dog.”
“Sergeant Blue provided a welcome distraction during many cold nights when patrolling with the guard.”
Sergeant Blue is succeeded by Private Ridgleigh Blue IV, an Australian cattle dog described as a “very energetic puppy”.
“Private Blue IV has been very eager to begin his duties as the unit’s newest mascot,” Major Varcoe said.
“As with all new soldiers, he still requires formal recruit training, which will be provided by his handler with assistance from 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment’s dog handlers.”
His training is progressing quickly, according to handler Private Jarred Little, who said he already knew how to sit, stay, lie down, roll over and heel, among other things.
“The two get along pretty well – Sergeant Blue let him know who’s boss at the start, but now they get along really well,” Private Little said.
“He’s pretty good inside; he doesn’t really chew anything at home – except for the garden.
“Once I’ve finished teaching him obedience and some tricks, Private Blue IV will be due to take over mascot duties and lead the battalion for about six years.”