After being apart for five long years, an Iraq veteran has been reunited with his old war buddy, Diego, a happy-go-lucky yellow Labrador retriever.
Diego was trained to sniff bombs, and after serving two combat tours, he is now retired. After completing the overseas tours, Diego was more recently used as a training aid for new military handlers.
These days, Diego is enjoying retirement after being adopted by his former handler, Logan Black, a retired sergeant who served overseas with Diego.
“I feel awesome. For a long time, I thought this was never going to happen,” said Black, who was with Diego for a year-long deployment in 2006. It was then that both were shaken up by a roadside bomb blast in Fallujah.
In the first few moments of their joyous reunion, Diego began sniffing around before acknowledging his former handler. As soon as Diego noticed Black standing with his leash, he began frolicking in excitement. Diego’s tail wagged a mile a minute as he licked Black’s face.
“There was a lot of joy,” Black said. “After a 13-hour drive home, he’ll probably remember everything.”
Black was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress disorder by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and left the army in 2007. He is now studying acting in his hometown of Kansas City, Missouri.
Diego served a second tour, after the one he completed with Black in 2006. However, Diego was removed from combat duty due to his sensitivity to loud noises.
It seems as though fate brought the two back together. Black began his search this summer, looking to adopt his old friend Diego. At the time, Diego was being evaluated for retirement.
Black began a Facebook page titled “Bring Diego Home”, in hopes of finding the dog. He grabbed the attention of both the media and hundreds of supporters.
At the age of 8, Diego is quite a bit younger than most military dogs, who are not retired until age 10 or 11. Diego’s release was in large part due to the fact that other “dual purpose” dogs are in much higher demand.
Diego will be living it up in his retirement as Black has promised to give him a life of luxury. According to Black, Diego can look forward to a soft bed, plenty of toys and lots of long walks and belly rubs.
“With Diego, that bond is there,” Black said, stating that the warrior bond between him and Diego is unique from typical pet-owner relationships. “Your life depends on him, and his life depends on you.”