Dogs have had a role in warfare for thousands of years. Even today, for all the fancy high tech weaponry on the battlefield, military dogs are still invaluable. Layka, a military dog severely wounded in Afghanistan, is one outstanding example.
Layka was absolutely fearless and wouldn’t hesitate to go charging into dangerous situations, even in the middle of a firefight. On one occasion, she uncovered a group of enemy soldiers who were waiting in ambush inside a building. The heroic dog undoubtedly saved the lives of men in her platoon but took four bullets in the process. A dog so badly wounded might normally have been euthanized on the spot, but Layka was sent to a military hospital. She lost one leg but survived.
Sergeant Julian McDonald, Layka’s commanding officer, understood the debt he and his fellow soldiers owed their faithful dog. “On the day Layka got shot… Instantly I felt the sense of urgency to fix her. I owe this dog every moment I have from here on out, with my son, with my mother, with my family. I owe her everything. 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 right and my left were also still alive.”
Military bureaucrats call dogs “access equipment,” but Sergeant McDonald knows better than that. He jumped through hoop after hoop so he could adopt Layka (she’d been designated “aggressive” and therefore wasn’t going to be available for adoption). Once she was finally at her forever home, Layka adjusted wonderfully, quickly bonding with everyone, including McDonald’s year-old son. “Over time of just being in the back yard and learning that ‘Hey, I have three tennis balls around me and I didn’t have to find a bomb to get it,’ the dog really starts to become a part of her environment.”
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