Dogs are not just man’s best friend; they may also be lifesavers.
We may know a few things about military or battle dogs, but not everything about their true purpose. Both television shows and the internet are full of stories about police dogs, assistance dogs, attractive dogs, and a variety of other catchy dog stories. But how many brave stories have you heard about military dogs?
Military dogs are nothing more than lifesavers for soldiers in desperate instances of conflict. Their keen sense of smell can detect an enemy from a long distance, and this trait distinguishes them as protectors rather than weapons.
They’ve been trained to spot snipers and explosives. They are also useful in detecting injured soldiers in regions that are inaccessible to human vision and difficult to find.
Despite their incredible job, army dogs are sometimes perceived as aggressive and, in certain situations, ‘simply another thing’ rather than a valued member of the squad.
When military dogs reach retirement age, they frequently do not have a loving and forever home to return to. Worse, they may be euthanized or taken to shelters.
So when Layka, a U.S. military combat dog, was shot four times at point-blank range by the enemy, saving the lives of many men in the process, her handler, Staff Sgt. Julian McDonald, battled hard to adopt her afterward. Despite the condemnation of many of Julian’s classmates, the brave Belgian Malinois now lives a happy life with Sargent and his family, and National Geographic published her uplifting story on YouTube.
“On the day Layka got shot in May, instantly I felt the sense of urgency to fix her.” Julian told the camera. “I owe this dog everything from this day here on out, with my son, with my mother, with my family… I owe her everything.”
Despite being severely injured after being shot, the heroic dog attacked and restrained the gunman, saving the lives of all of Julian’s team members.
To be honest, we doubt many humans would do what this brave dog did.
“I felt really bad because I was the one who put her in the building.” Julian reflected. “But at the same time, I was relieved that I was still alive, and my buddies to my left and right were also still alive.”
Layka’s injuries were life-altering, and after losing a leg, it was determined that she would be unable to return to work. Julian was adamant that he would adopt her, despite the fact that no one appeared to agree with him.
“She saved my life, that’s why I’m here. I owed it to her, and that’s why I fought so hard to adopt her, even when people were saying ‘she’s too aggressive.’ They deserve good homes.” Julian said.
Julian is eager to give Layka a forever home and is determined to teach people that a retired military dog like her deserves a forever family and home as well.
Layka, if he’s not mistaken, immediately took to his then one-year-old son and became his brave yet compassionate furry guardian.
“The first time I brought her home, my son was just over one year old at the time.” Julian said. “She went right over to Liam and submitted and lay on her back. My son got on top of her chest, grabbed her ears and put his hand in her mouth, and she wasn’t doing anything. She was just laying there and taking every bit of it.”
Layka has fit in nicely to family life, though Julian is sure to take her to army training every now and then to let off some steam.
“If you bring them into a home environment then they will become a product of that environment, because all animals learn to adapt and survive.” Julian concluded. He added, “If the dogs put their time into the country, then the government owes it to them to put their time into them.”
Not only are retired military dogs frequently neglected, but there are many more canines who go unnoticed. If you intend to have a dog, you should think about getting one from your local animal shelter. The number of unwanted pets is on the rise, especially during these difficult times, and it is our responsibility as humans to offer these poor pups a second shot in life.
Watch Layka and Staff Sgt. Julian McDonald’s touching story in the short movie below.