Bomb-sniffing dog, former Army handler reunited

A U.S. Army dog and the handler whose life he saved have been reunited.

“He’s sitting on my couch,” Logan Black, 34, of Kansas City, said Wednesday of Diego, an 8-year-old bomb-sniffing yellow Labrador retriever that Black considered his best friend.

Black, who left the Army in 2007, was reunited with his canine comrade Tuesday at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas and drove back to Kansas City, returning to their Hyde Park neighborhood about midnight.

Black trained Diego when the dog was about 1 year old and took him into Iraq on as many as 40 missions. Together they discovered caches of weapons buried in the desert, automatic weapons in the homes of insurgents, bombs hidden in the roadways of Fallujah. More than once, he said, Diego saved his life.

Several years after leaving the Army, Black began searching for Diego, hoping to adopt him when he was retired from duty. A Facebook page garnered national attention from the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Black learned that Diego was still on active duty and was being used to train military dog handlers at Lackland. The Army told Black he would get first dibs on adopting Diego when he retired.

This week he did.

“Both Logan and Diego have served our country with distinction,” U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill said in a statement. Her office had worked to help find the dog.

Black said Diego didn’t quite recognize his former handler at first. The lab had gotten older and grayer around his muzzle.

“At first, he completely ignored me. He was looking for a place to do his business,” Black said.

Once Black took Diego’s leash, it didn’t take long before the two were rolling on the ground.

“I feel great,” Black said. “Yeah, it’s awesome. It’s fantastic having him here.”