NEWS AND OPINION: I am completely awestruck by this dog. His name is Kuno and he is a Belgian shephard aged three (Belgian Malinois). He is a canine protection and detection dog. He detects explosives and finds hidden weapons and when required incapacitates the enemy.
His handsome and strong face gives me goosebumps. He is to be awarded the Dicken Medal which is the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross for military personnel (the highest award for gallantry in the British forces). It is given for valour and Kuno has it in abundance.
He was serving in Afghanistan. He was with British special forces when they were pinned down by grenades and machine gun fire in a raid last year. The unit had been ambushed and an insurgent came out from a hiding place wearing night vision equipment and they pinned down the soldiers with machine gun fire. They couldn’t progress and they relied upon Kuno to set them free. He attacked the insurgent under orders from his handler. He did it fearlessly without thought for himself and with great loyalty. He was shot and badly injured. Despite this he forced the man to the ground allowing the assault force to take the advantage to complete their mission.
Kuno was a most invaluable team member. His instinctive courage and determination unlocked the stalemate and undoubtedly saved the lives of multiple coalition soldiers. – His citation for the Dicken Medal.
He was badly injured as mentioned and is the first working UK military dog to be fitted with a prosthetic paw. His wounds to both of his hind legs were life threatening. He required emergency treatment in the back of the helicopter when he was taken out of the fighting. Further urgent operations were carried out abroad before being flown back to Britain.
He was transferred to the Defence Animal Training Regiment in Melton Mowbray. He was operated on by Prof Dick White who is internationally renowned as a specialist in canine surgery.
He is one of a handful of truly remarkable animals I have met during my 40-year career as a vet. The difficult bit during the first few days was whether we would be able to salvage three legs, let alone the fourth. We were astonished at how well he functioned on the left leg with the foot missing. He such a tough dog. – Professor White DVM.
Kuno’s left hind foot had been partly shot away and had to be amputated. His right hind leg had sustained a serious thigh wound. He wears a prosthetic on his left leg and an orthotic brace supports on right. He can now run and jump again.
He is retired at an undisclosed location to keep him safe. The Dicken Medal is the highest honour for military animal valour. It will be presented by PDSA in a ceremony in November. Update: Kuno is on page 31 of The Times hardcopy today 25th November 2020. He looks superb with his prosthetic leg (left hind leg) and leg brace for this right hind leg.
The Dicken Medal came about in 1943 in the UK. It was created by Maria Dickin who is the founder of the PDSA – the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals. It is an animal hospital chain in the UK today. The medal was awarded 54 times between 1943 and 1949. Kuno is the 72nd recipient of the medal. It has been granted to 35 dogs, 32 messenger pigeons, four horse ane one cat – Simon.
The only cat to receive the medal is Simon. He won it as a ship’s cat on HMS Amethyst fighting the Chinese communists in 1949. He is the world’s most highly decorated cat. He died in the UK because of the cold weather and not his injuries apparently.