The saying goes that dogs are man’s best friend.
This is partly because dogs and human beings evolved together over time. Descended from wolves, ancient humans bred docile wolves together until modern dogs finally came about, where they have often served as watchful protectors.
In this story out of Afghanistan, one incredible dog named Layka was doing just that.
The US Military has a long history of using combat dogs in military operations.
Layka is a Belgian Malinois, an intelligent dog breed well-suited to high-stress situations and complex problem-solving. Layka and her team had been deployed to Afghanistan in May 2013 when they heard shots ringing out.
Before they knew it, they were in the middle of a firefight.
The attack was an ambush and shots were ringing out everywhere.
In the middle of the skirmish, one of the soldiers sent Layka to scout a nearby building and clear it of any attackers. Layka bravely went forward and did so and was successful, helping to secure the area and protect the unit. In the process, Layka was hit four times by enemy gunfire.
After battle ended, Layka was rushed to a military hospital for immediate surgery.
Though she sustained serious damage, the doctors were able to save the dog’s life. There was a cost though—in the process, Layka’s front leg was amputated. Needless to say, Layka’s actions were beyond heroic.
Still, Sgt. Julian McDonald, Layka’s trainer and handler, felt guilty about what had happened to Layka.
According to McDonald, the decision had meant the difference between life and death for his team:
“I felt really bad because I was the one who put her inside of the building, and then at the same time happy that I did it because I was still alive and my buddies to my left and my right were still alive.”
Through it all, McDonald knew he owed a huge debt to the dog that had saved his life. “I owe this dog every moment that I have from here on out,” he said. “I owe her everything.”
To make things right, McDonald decided to adopt Layka so that she could live the rest of her life in peace.
Although it took an effort to adopt her (because some said she was too aggressive), McDonald never gave up. Now, he and Layka go on errands together and play fetch. He even still trains her to attack to take out any stress.
Still, Layka is gentle enough to play with McDonald’s children.
Although Layka has taken damage, she lives a comfortable life now.
The family has paid all her necessary medical expenses and is madly in love with her. After all they’ve been through together, McDonald says that Layka is “kind of [his] rock.” We’re just glad that Layka is being so kindly rewarded for her bravery.
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