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SUNY Canton Living Writers Series Hosts Author and Marine Veteran Rob Kugler


The SUNY Canton Living Writers Series will welcome a Marine and Iraq War veteran whose cross-country journey with his beloved dog, Bella, became a social media inspiration and eventually a memoir.

Robert Kugler, author of “A Dog Named Beautiful,” will discuss his writing and participate in a Q&A session in the Kingston Theater at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16. The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served, and books will be available for purchase and signing.

Robert Kugler
Robert Kugler looks back at his beloved Chocolate Labrador, Bella. Photo credit @AmandaHoeneman

Kugler joined the Marines at 17, following in his older brother Mike’s footsteps. While both were serving in Iraq, Mike was killed by an improvised explosive device. Several years later, Kugler’s sister was killed in a car crash and his beloved Chocolate Labrador, Bella, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The series of events propelled Kugler to make the most of their time together by traveling the country, including the Adirondacks.

“It was in the Adirondacks, the hike to the fire tower on Bald Mountain for those familiar, where I first learned how resilient Bella was on only three legs,” said Kugler about their visit to the area, which he recounts in the book. “Her ability to look at the path ahead of her and ‘plan’ her route over exposed tree roots and between boulders was truly remarkable. We took in Saranac Lake, stopped by the Olympic Center to evoke the memory of the “Miracle on Ice” and imagined the energy that must have surged through the stadium. Our time in the Adirondacks set the precedent for the rest of our nearly year-and-a-half-long journey and remains a part of who I am today. I am excited to be coming back and honored to do so at SUNY Canton.”

“A Dog Named Beautiful” was named Forbes’ “Best Travel Books for the Summer” in 2020, and Kugler has appeared on NBC’s “Today” show. He has nearly 70,000 followers on Instagram (@robkugler) and travels extensively to share his story.

While on campus, Kugler will also meet with students and their canine companions who live in the college’s new dog-friendly residence hall, as well as local military leaders and ROTC cadets. SUNY Canton is well-known for its military-friendly environment, recently earning Gold status on the 2022-2023 Military Friendly® school rankings list.

Kugler is involved with veterans’ support and disaster relief organizations, including Team Rubicon, which deploys volunteers to assist communities after natural and humanitarian crises. He is earning his undergraduate degree in strategic communications at Washington State University and lives in Washington with his wife, Kristen; two children; and three rescue dogs.

“Rob not only shares our campus values of supporting veterans and assisting animal welfare organizations, he is also an inspirational speaker who can offer advice and encouragement to students who may be struggling personally or academically,” said SUNY Canton Executive Director of Enrollment Melissa J. Evans.

For more information check out the Living Writers Series webpage.

About SUNY Canton

As Northern New York's premier college for career-driven bachelor's degrees, associate degrees and professional certificate programs, SUNY Canton delivers quality hands-on programs in engineering technology, management, and healthcare fields. It is home to the Center for Criminal Justice, Intelligence and Cybersecurity. Faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to outstanding academic credentials. As SUNY's leader in online education, SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses as well as 23 online degree programs. The SUNY Canton Kangaroos 15 traditional athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division III level as part of the North Atlantic Conference. SUNY Canton also features varsity esports and cheerleading.