Sign In

Veteran Adopts Dog

June 2, 2020

A black Labrador retriever named Blue has saved Byung “BK” Kang’s life so many times, he’s lost count.

The two served on more than 300 combat missions while serving together in the United States Marine Corps on a deployment to Afghanistan from 2011-2012. Blue, a military dog trained to detect bombs called improvised explosive devices, was so good at her job that she found one on their very first mission.

“That IED could have taken a couple of our guys out,” Kang, 31, told TODAY. “So from there, Blue started getting trust and the respect of my platoon.” As Blue’s handler, Kang could read the dog’s body language to know when she wanted to investigate a possible IED. He’d allow her to run ahead of the group — anywhere from four to 60 Marines and enlisted medical specialists, Navy corpsmen. When she’d lie down as a final indication that she’d detected an explosive, he’d call her back for her reward: playing with a toy. Sometimes, there was time for emergency ordnance disposal technicians to confirm the existence of the IED and work to dismantle it. Other times, they’d take a step back for a security halt and get ambushed, needing to find a different path. “Since we knew Blue is effective, it was almost impossible for a squad or a platoon to go out without Blue,” he said. “Sometimes we went on three patrols per day and by the time we’d get back we’re all exhausted because we’ve been walking miles and miles in over a hundred degrees of heat in Afghanistan. So we did our best. Every chance, we tried to go out to possibly save the Marines and sailors.” Overwhelmed with gratitude to Blue for repeatedly saving his life and the lives of his fellow soldiers, one night in Afghanistan, Kang made a promise to the dog.“I told her, ‘What you’ve done for me and my guys over here in Afghanistan, we cannot pay back. So I’m going to give you a good home where you can cuddle all day, not worrying about going to war and finding bombs.’” After their tour ended, Blue was reassigned. Kang lost track of her, but he never forgot his promise. In fact, one of his first conversations with his future wife, Wendy, was about his plan to adopt Blue once she retired from service. Wendy Kang, herself a Marine veteran, used her connections with other female Marines to help track down Blue and to facilitate her adoption when she was finally retired. They welcomed her home in November 2018. “I did everything in my power to make sure that we could get Blue home,” Wendy Kang told TODAY. “After all the stories I’ve heard, I know for sure Blue is one of the reasons why BK is standing here with me and he’s alive.”

Register Your Dog

  • Most Recent News

    Former Victoria man’s diabetic alert dog helps him get back to life

    When Luke Hengen’s diabetes worsened in his early twenties, it stripped him of the outdoor activities where the country kid felt at home. Countless wilderness adventures and years of hard-fought football games took a toll on his body, to the point where he could no longer sense when his blood sugar was too high or […]

    Read more

    Students Get Therapy Dog

    When middle school students return to class on Jan. 11, they’ll find a new face at the door: Daisy. Daisy is a therapy dog and the personal pet of Rob Kreger, principal of the Rock L. Butler Middle School. The five-year-old golden retriever is not a school pet or mascot, but rather a working dog […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dogtor

    Last March, Caroline Benzel, a third-year medical student, began to notice the stress and discomfort her nurse friends were feeling from the pressures of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. “[Personal protective equipment] can be really rough on the skin,” Benzel, 31, tells PEOPLE. Benzel and her 3-year-old Rottweiler, Loki (who’s also a therapy dog) hatched a […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dog Pups

    When Stanley the miniature fox terrier’s owner passed away, the little dog started a ‘paw-some’ new role – bringing puppy love to some of the Gold Coast’s oldest residents. After Carinity Cedarbrook Diversional Therapist Julianne Staff adopted Stanley, he began visiting the aged care community at Mudgeeraba as a therapy dog. Therapy dogs help to […]

    Read more

    Puppy Cams

    A nonprofit is providing an unusual form of therapy for those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic – puppy cams! “You spend five minutes with a puppy and try not to smile,” said registered nurse Robin Lingg Lagrone. Lingg Lagrone says watching little furballs wag their tails and prance on their paws helps […]

    Read more

    Pet Committee

    When Moore County’s school doors were abruptly closed earlier in 2020, two- and four-legged volunteers from the Moore County Citizens’ Pet Responsibility Committee (PRC) were in their 12th year of presenting a six-session Pet Responsibility Education Program for fourth-graders. The PRC quickly shifted gears and placed its program materials online as part of a home […]

    Read more