Former Sgt. Logan Black began suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after he returned from his deployment in Iraq in 2007. His reoccurring dreams centered on one thing; the fate of Diego, the yellow Labrador that sniffed-out bombs and weapons alongside him. Black could not rest until he found the dog.
From 2006 to 2007, Sergeant Black developed a strong bond with Diego as the two searched for explosives and weapons in Fallujah. Black began training the bomb sniffing dog when he was still a puppy at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.
Together the duo survived several attacks including an IED that hit the back of a vehicle that carried them. Black said the jolt was so strong, “Diego leaped from the back seat and shook uncontrollably.”
Black always worried whether the incident caused Diego to develop PTSD. “After that attack, any kind of loud noises would send him into a similar state,” he said. Black calmed the dog by handing him his favorite toy, a hard rubber cone.
Since leaving the service in May 2007, Black began calling his old Army unit every six months to find out how Diego was doing. The former sergeant never received an answer.
Finally he started a Facebook page and Twitter campaign to locate and adopt Diego. That led to contact from the dog’s second handler, who said Diego had been sent back to the U.S. after serving an additional yearlong deployment in Iraq.
On Monday Black found out that Diego, now 8, is stationed at Lackland Air Force Base. He is being used to train new soldiers how to be dog handlers.
Black also learned about a little known program set up by the Army that gives prior handlers priority to adopt the dog they worked with in the military. Last year, 319 military dogs were adopted and 90 percent were taken home by their former handlers.
Technical Sergeant Joseph Null, who runs the adoption program at Lackland, agreed to help Black and Diego through the process once the dog retires. However there is no retirement date set for Diego at this point. Diego is still playing a vital role for the Army.
“Without dogs like Diego, there would be no military working dog program,” said Null. “He’s a critical asset to developing future dog handlers.”
Black hopes he won’t have to wait too long to be reunited with Diego. He plans to train him to be a visiting service dog for soldiers with PTSD.
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Photo Credit: LoganBlack