Dogs are known as “man’s best friend” and are typically thought of as our cute and cuddly companions. However, these amazing animals have proven time and time again that they can serve a larger purpose. Many dogs step up into community service as everything from police search dogs to incredible military service dogs. They even make a habit out of saving people from natural disasters.
Kuno, a beautiful Belgian Malinois, is one of these extraordinary animals. He was recently recognized for his heroic actions while serving in the U.K. armed forces as a Military Working Dog.
The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) recently awarded Kuno the Dickin Medal for his military service. The Dicken Medal is the highest award any animal can receive within the British military. According to the PDSA, this award is “recognized worldwide as the animals’ Victoria Cross” and is given for acts of bravery and devotion to duty.
Here is PDSA’s tweet, announcing the award and showcasing Kuno:
Retired Military Working Dog Kuno has been awarded our #PDSADickinMedal for his bravery supporting British Forces 🎖️ Kuno was deployed in support of specialist UK & host nation forces on a compound raid when they came under attack. Read his amazing story: https://t.co/ky294PdiNe pic.twitter.com/5yCW2sl19Y
— PDSA (@PDSA_HQ) November 24, 2020
In 2019, Kuno and his handler served in Afghanistan to help “detect explosives, find hidden weapons and incapacitate the enemy,” the PDSA said. He served for five months and took part in 16 operations during that time.
However, in May 2019, one mission took a serious toll on Kuno.
After getting off a helicopter, Kuno took led a military team through a compound, finding hidden weapons and explosives along the way. But, after clearing one area, the team got pinned down by an enemy attacker. Kuno’s handler released the highly-trained dog to take down the insurgent. As Kuno raced towards the enemy, he was struck in his hind legs by a hail of bullets in a counterattack. Despite being hurt, Kuno managed to incapacitate the attacker, which allowed his team to advance safely.
“Without Kuno, the course of this operation could have been very different, and it’s clear he saved the lives of British personnel that day,” said Britain’s Defense Secretary Ben Wallace. “This particular raid was one of the most significant achievements against al Qaeda in several years.”
But Kuno’s bravery came with a price. His injuries were so severe that he had to have one of his rear paws amputated. A series of surgeries saved his life. Kuno received a prosthetic paw and endured months of therapy to learn to walk again. He is the first British Military Working Dog to be fitted with a prosthetic leg.
Kuno remains very active after his successful rehabilitation, even with an orthotic brace on his right leg in addition to his prosthetic foot on his left leg. He is officially retired from the military and has a new home.
Here’s a YouTube video from PDSA about the brave dog and his work:
Wallace said he believes Kuno’s bravery is a good reminder of the powerful relationship between military dogs and their handlers.
“Kuno’s story reminds us not only of the dedicated service of our soldiers and military dogs but also the great care that the UK Armed Forces provide to the animals that serve alongside them,” he said.
What a good dog! Happy retirement, Kuno!