Staff Sgt. Julian McDonald was Layka’s handler in Afghanistan when she was shot on duty. The way he talks about her shows that Layka is more than a dog, she is a fellow soldier:
“On the day Layka got shot in May, instantly I felt the sense of urgency to fix her. Like, I owe this dog every moment that I have 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 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.” “It’s disheartening to know that the people who are sending me out on targets and making me fight call these dogs ‘excess equipment’. You can ask anyone who’s ever been in a firefight and somebody used a dog to save their life or if you’ve worked with any platoon that utilizes a dog they’ll tell you, the dudes with boots on the ground, will say ‘these dogs are just like our brothers’.” “I have a lot of respect for them because they do stuff that I wouldn’t wanna do and they do stuff I know 99% of America wouldn’t wanna do.”
Some people voiced concern that Layka may be too intense for a family with children, but McDonald is confident that Layka will control herself. She has been nothing but good with the kids and is taking to her new, calmer environment like a fish to water.
She is incredibly loyal to her team members, and she is willing to do anything for them, even if it means putting her own body on the line. This dedication and love was on display in a recent battle when her team members were caught in a battle. Layka took four bullets for her team members in order to help subdue an enemy shooter. After the battle, Layka was immediately rushed to the hospital where doctors operated on her for 7 hours. Ultimately, they were able to save her life, but she lost a leg in the process. While recovering, Layka’s military handler fell in love with the dog who saved his life, and he offered to do the same for her. He adopted Layka and finally rewarded her with the love she deserved!
Cheers to the dogs in service to the military. Thank you for keeping our troops safe at the cost of your own lives.