In Honour of His Memory

Nordenstamm Joep aka “Kuga”

~ The only Australian dog to be awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal for valor ~

The Victoria Cross For Animals –
Military Working Dog “Kuga” has been posthumously awarded Dickin Medal for valor.

Special Operations Dog “Kuga” Posthumously Awarded Top Bravery Honour

In October 2018 Nordenstamm Joep, aka “Kuga”,was awarded the Dickin Medal for his remarkable actions in Afghanistan. The Australian Defense Forces Network describes Kuga as a “hero dog”.  Kuga served with the Australian Special Air Service Regiment (SAS) and received the animals’ Victoria Cross for his remarkable actions while on duty in Afghanistan in 2011. Special Operations Military Working Dog Kuga was posthumously awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal at a special ceremony at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Kuga is the first Australian dog to receive the prestigious medal in its 75-year history. He was posthumously recognized for his actions during Operation Slipper. He indicated the presence of an enemy ambush, concealed among trees alongside a river. He swam into the river to apprehend the enemy and was shot five times in the process of driving off a Taliban sniper.  Despite his injuries, Kuga swam back across the river when recalled by his handler, who gave him emergency first aid and requested a helicopter medical evacuation for him.

Kuga was subsequently treated in Afghanistan and Germany, before returning to Australia for further treatment and rehabilitation.  Kuga passed away in 2012 back home in Australia and although inconclusive, it was believed that his body succumbed to the stress placed upon him due to the injuries sustained in the incident. Kuga’s death is officially recorded as ‘Died of Wounds’.  PDSA Director General Jan McLoughlin said: “Kuga’s actions undoubtedly saved the lives of his patrol. He took on the enemy without fear, saving his comrades despite suffering serious injury, and is a thoroughly deserving recipient of the PDSA Dickin Medal.

The medal was formally presented to Kuga’s canine colleague, retired Military Working Dog “Odin”, whereby, together with Corporal Mark Donaldson, the recipient of the Victoria Cross for his own valiant actions in Afghanistan, received Kuga’s medal on behalf of the regiment.  Corporal Donaldson said: “Kuga’s actions that day in Afghanistan were heroic. There’s no doubt in anybody’s mind that he saved their lives. He just wouldn’t give up on his mates and on doing his job.  Kuga’s PDSA Dickin Medal is for the all military working dogs which work alongside us in Afghanistan and every day since.”

The world-renowned Dickin Medal was first introduced by PDSA’s founder, Maria Dickin CBE, in 1943.  It is the highest award any animal can achieve while serving in military conflict. Kuga is the 71st recipient of the medal and the only Australia dog to be awarded the honour.  RIP Kuga.  End of Watch 2007-2012.


The Forces Network:
News article Forces Network 26.10.2018 (PDF)

The Australian:
The weekend Australian_Hero-dog-courage-under fire (PDF)

The ABC:

The Daily Mail:


We salute the memory of Special Operations (SAS) Military Working Dog, Nordenstamm Joep, call name “Kuga,” posthumously awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal at a special ceremony at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra in October 2018 and is the only Australia dog to have received this honour.
~ Sacrifice made in the service of country ~

Video of RAAF Military Working Dogs @ the Australian International Airshow

“Approx. 97% of RAAF dogs today would have a Nordenstamm dog behind them” – J. Baguley MWD Supply Manager





Pedigree of Nordenstamm Joep aka “Kuga”


More photos of “Kuga”