Iraq veteran seeks reunion with life-saving dog

Friday, July 13, 2012 | 12:02 p.m. CDT; updated 2:38 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 13, 2012

KANSAS CITY — More than once, a bomb-sniffing dog saved Logan Black's life in Iraq. Now the former U.S. Army sergeant wants to be reunited with his old partner, Diego, as the 8-year-old yellow Labrador retriever nears retirement age.

The Kansas City Star reported that Black was parted from Diego in January 2007 when he returned from Iraq and left the Army.

"Leaving him behind was like leaving a partner, a best friend and a son all in the same package," said Black, now 34 and a master's student studying acting at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. "The bond with a dog is pretty incredible. But the bond with a combat dog that has saved your life on more than one occasion, slept with you, trained with you — that is a different kind of bond."

About 18 months ago, Black began hunting for Diego, the dog he began training at Fort Leonard Wood when Diego was about a year old. Using social media, he eventually found out Diego is being used for training at the Air Force's 37th Training Wing at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas.

Base public relations chief Collen McGee says most retired dogs are adopted by their former handlers, people like Black, who has already filled out an application.

Black figures that given Diego's age, he will be retired within a year. But, if possible, he would love to have Diego now.

"Give me a call," he said. "And I will be on a flight to San Antonio to pick him up."

Black is even getting the backing of the animal rights group PETA, short for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. This week, the group called on its members to call or write to the secretary of the Navy to request that Diego be turned over to Black.

"Obviously this relationship had a great impact on one of our soldiers and he just wants to be reunited with this friend," said Teresa Chagrin, PETA's animal care and control specialist.

McGee said that right now, "Diego is serving a great purpose." But she added: "This is a happy story in the making for Diego and Mr. Black."

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