Dogs have always been known as “man’s best friend” for their loyalty and devotion — traits which make them the best companions during times of war. The United States trained more than 10,000 dogs in WWII and military working dogs have continued to be trained for service in the decades that have followed.
One of the most common breeds in the military is the Belgian Malinois. Known for their consistent intelligence, moderate aggression, and adaptability, the Belgian Malinois has become one of three standard breeds working in the armed forces. They can be trusted to protect their handlers in high-stress situations.
In May 2013 a military dog named Layka proved to her squad just how protective she was of her fellow soldiers.
When Layka’s team came under fire in Afghanistan, her handler Sgt. Julian McDonald sent her to scout out a building and confirm that it was empty of any hostile shooters. Layka bravely obeyed but in the process was shot four times at close range by an AK-47.
Layka was rushed to emergency surgery as soon as the ambush was over and the skirmish had ended. A team of doctors worked tirelessly to save her life and thankfully Layka was able to survive her injuries.
However, her life came at the cost of needing to amputate one of the dog’s front legs, which would mean the end of Layka’s service to the military.
Overcome with guilt, for having sent Layka in harm’s way, and gratitude, for saving his life, Julian knew that it was now his turn to fight for Layka with everything he had.
“I owed this dog every moment that I have from here on out — with my son, with my mother, with my family. I owe her everything.”
The process of adopting Layka was not very easy at all. Deemed as too aggressive from her training and her near-death experience, Julian was told that it would not be a wise idea to bring Layka home to his family of three small children.
However, Julian stayed true to his promise to devote his life to Layka and fought hard for the right to adopt her.
When he finally got to bring her home Layka immediately showed nothing but love and devotion to Julian’s children, proving that she was not a vicious dog but just an animal who truly deserved a comfortable retirement in a good home.
Once a military working dog and now a family pet, Layka spends her days playing with Julian’s children, running errands with the family, and continuing her training to help release any built-up stress from war.
“These dogs are just like our brothers to our left and our right,” Julian said. “I have a lot of respect for them because they do stuff that I wouldn’t want to do — and I know they do stuff that 99 percent of America wouldn’t want to do. Just like us, they deserve to be retired.”
We are so glad to hear that such a valiant and brave dog is getting the well-deserved love that she has definitely earned.
Watch the video below and share to pay tribute to Layka’s military service.
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