By Andy Wolf
A military working dog that went viral after he was filmed enjoying a post-retirement Veterans Day meal at a restaurant chain has reportedly passed away.
Staff Sgt. Agbar, a North Carolinian Belgian Malinois who previously served with the 101st Airborne Division and 30th Engineer Brigade, was born in 2009 and served until 2014.
During his time in service, the multi-purpose K9 served four times in Afghanistan: first from 2010 to 2011 with the 101st Airborne under the care of then-PV2 Adam Longshore, and again for a few months in 2012 under the care of then-SGT Brent Dell. The details on the other two deployments were not readily available.
While in Afghanistan, he had approximately six “finds,” though it is unknown what he found.
By the time he retired in 2014, he was awarded the Combat Action Badge, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Ribbon with 2 Stars, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the Army Overseas Service Ribbon [2nd Award].
After his service, Agbar was adopted [due to his former handlers being unable to obtain him for reasons that cannot be disclosed] in February 2014, and put in the care of Brittany Heath.
Heath, who is the wife of a police K-9 handler, said her husband fell in love with Agbar the moment they met. Larger than most Belgians, he had an imposing presence, even in old age.
However, when they got Agbar home, they discovered that he was “no ordinary dog,” but a loyal and dedicated soul who not only took a liking to Mr. and Mrs. Heath but to their daughter.
The very first night, Agbar was sitting on the couch when the Heaths’ daughter slipped and fell on the floor. Taking hold of the child’s nightgown sleeve, Agbar gently dragged the girl back to Mrs. Heath.
Agbar was a beloved figure in his community, frequently visiting schools, hospitals, and other locations.
He gained internet fame after someone took pictures of him eating his yearly steak at an NC Texas Roadhouse on Veteran’s Day.
One particularly poignant moment was when Agbar visited the dementia unit of the Kinniston, NC VA hospital, and an old veteran began shouting “Blackie! Blackie!”
“Blackie,” it turned out, was the veteran’s working dog from the Vietnam War, whom we know historically was not allowed to return to the United States.
However, Agbar was happy to be “Blackie” for a while, acting as a stand-in as a way to comfort the veteran.
“I like to think it was some kind of closure thinking his dog made it home,” Mrs. Heath said. “He just played the part.”
A veteran of combat, Agbar was not any more exempt from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder than his human counterparts. During sporting events involving the National Anthem and aircraft flyovers, Agbar was noticeably agitated, though never aggressive. Being familiar with working dogs, Mrs. Heath knew how to soothe and handle Agbar.
Laid-back and loving, Agbar surprised everyone with how affectionate he could be, and was fond of the other dogs in his household, having a particular fondness for Jackson, a Dutch Shepherd who passed away in June of this year.
However, Agbar had long suffered from lung cancer, and on the 29th night of August 2023, he peacefully drew his last breath in the presence of a family member.
The local crematorium took Agbar in that night, and both former handlers were contacted, ensuring closure was established.
On Veterans Day, 2023, Agbar returned to the Texas Roadhouse he loved so much in the form of ashes in an urn. Placing a folded flag atop his urn, the staff gave Agbar his well-deserved steak— something they could not deny him, even in death.
Taking care of Agbar was an honor for Mrs. Heath, who felt the two comforted one another with their respective struggles.
“It was a life-changing and humbling experience,” she said. “I would do it all again.”
© 2023 Bright Mountain Media, Inc. All rights reserved.
The content of this webpage may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written consent of Bright Mountain Media, Inc. which may be contacted at email@example.com, ticker BMTM.