The Story of Dyngo, a War Dog Brought Home From Combat

Dyngo served three tours in Afghanistan before retiring to Washington, D.C. (Susana Raab). I brought a seasoned veteran of the conflict in Afghanistan into my home—and then things got wild.By Rebecca Frankel; Photographs by Susana Raab

It was late—an indistinguishable, bleary-eyed hour. The lamps in the living room glowed against the black spring night.

In front of me was a large dog, snapping his jaws so hard that his teeth gave a loud clack with each bark. His eyes were locked on me, desperate for the toy I was holding. But he wasn’t playing—he was freaking out.

This was no ordinary dog. Dyngo, a 10-year-old Belgian Malinois, had been trained to propel his 87-pound body weight toward insurgents, locking his jaws around them. He’d served three tours in Afghanistan where he’d weathered grenade blasts and firefights. In 2011, he’d performed bomb-sniffing heroics that earned one of his handlers a Bronze Star. This dog had saved thousands of lives.

And now this dog was in my apartment in Washington, D.C. Just 72 hours earlier, I had traveled across the country to retrieve Dyngo from Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix, so he could live out his remaining years with me in civilian retirement.

My morning at the base had been a blur. It included a trip to the notary to sign a covenant-not-to-sue (the legal contract in which I accepted responsibility for this combat-ready dog for all eternity), a veterinarian visit for the sign-off on Dyngo’s air travel and tearful goodbyes with the kennel’s handlers. Then, suddenly, I had a dog.

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