From minefields to sandy beaches

Aria and her new handler running on the beach

Finding the right HeroDOG retirement home.

From the minefields of South Sudan to the sandy beaches of Mozambique on the Indian Ocean, HeroDOG Aria has had an incredibly exciting life. She now has paradise and an experienced family to look after her, during her retirement years. Aria gets the truly beautiful retirement she deserves, after a lifetime of saving lives.

HeroDOG, Aria (female) was born on the 6th of July 2014 in Slovakia and quickly demonstrated her energy and enthusiasm to work! Aria was twelve weeks old when she began her scent detection training and socialization; such was her keenness!

Aria’s training program ensured she became a true expert in surveying minefields to confirm the presence of landmines and unexploded ordnance, such as cluster munitions. Aria flew through her training, and she spent three years working in Cambodia, before being amongst the first group of dogs to be deployed to work with our partner The Development Initiative (TDI) in South Sudan.

In South Sudan, Aria and her handler Matata took part in different road clearance projects, to facilitate the free movement of people and supplies to remote parts of the country. Even though she was smaller than other HeroDOGs working in mine detection, her drive and energy always stood out above all the other dogs on the project, showing that size truly does not matter!


In July 2022, following the completion of Aria’s fifth season in South Sudan, APOPO, together with TDI decided that Aria should be retired soon and so began the search to find her the perfect retirement home.

Luckily, we didn’t have to look very far, and TDI’s Operations Manager, Ingemar, said he would love to take Aria to live with his family in their beach house in Mozambique! When our HeroDOGs retire, we always ensure that they get the very best retirement. APOPO takes animal welfare seriously and more than that – our HeroDOGs are part of the APOPO family, so we often refuse offers of a retirement home, because it is vital to find the perfect match for the specific HeroDOG.

A loving family

Just like humans, every HeroDOG has their own unique personality, and it is our responsibility to make sure their retirement home suits them. Knowing Ingemar and his love of the mine detection dogs, and his home being suitable meant that we knew we had found Aria’s perfect retirement home. Just one week later, Aria was on a plane to Maputo where she met her new family and beautiful new home! Rouxve, Ingemar’s granddaughter absolutely fell in love with Aria and the two are now inseparable.