We have a confession to make: before coming across this story, war dogs were pretty much unknown territory for us. While it seems like there is endless media praise for police dogs and service dogs (and rightfully so), it seems that some of the bravest dogs in the world are often forgotten about.
In some cases, military dogs play even more of an important role than our soldiers do. Their excellent sense of smell can help them sniff out the enemy, which makes them the perfect candidate for protecting base camp. These smart dogs can even be trained to detect snipers and explosives, as well as spotting injured soldiers lying in areas that are difficult to locate.
However, despite all of the amazing work that they do, army dogs can be viewed as aggressive and in some cases, ‘just another object’ instead of a valued member of the team.
When they reach retirement age, these dogs often don’t have a loving home to settle into, and they may be put down or taken to shelters.
So when U.S. military combat dog Layka was shot four times by the enemy at point-blank range, saving the lives of many soldiers in the process, her handler, Staff Sgt. Julian McDonald, fought incredibly hard to adopt her afterward. Despite the criticism of many of Julian’s peers, the brave Belgian Malinois now lives a happy life with the Sargent and his family, and her inspirational story was shared onto YouTube by National Geographic.
“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 badly injured after getting shot, the brave dog still attacked and subdued the shooter, saving the lives of all of the men in Julian’s team.
It was an incredibly selfless thing to do, and we doubt that many humans would have been able to do the same.
“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.”
“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 now determined to show people that military dogs can settle into a loving home, as he has proved with Layka. The sweet dog instantly took to his one-year-old son, and was only ever gentle with him.
“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.”
“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.”
Now that’s something we can get behind. Watch Layka’s amazing video below.
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Source: National Geographic