To Julian, Layka was nothing short of a superhero, and he was determined to repay the debt by rescuing her from any danger that came her way.
When Staff Sergeant Julian McDonald sent Layka, a military dog, to clear a building in Afghanistan before entering it with his team, he had no idea how much it would impact his future. As Layka’s handler, McDonald was responsible for the well-being of the Belgian Malinois during their time in the country.
In 2013, the sergeant decided to send a dog to scout the building before leading his troops to check it out. They had reason to believe that the facility was dangerous due to the sound of gunshots.
A group of armed individuals were present in the building and shot Layka four times from a very close range. After this, they aimed their weapons at the soldiers who were positioned outside. Despite suffering injuries, Layka managed to neutralize one of her attackers and save the lives of the soldiers.
After undergoing a grueling seven-hour surgery, the skilled veterinarians were able to rescue the dog from certain death. However, the procedure necessitated amputation of one of her legs, leaving her with only three. Nevertheless, the most important thing was that the dog survived.
The pooch had to undergo some physiotherapy to regain mobility after an injury, but despite the setback, she was still enthusiastic about life after receiving treatment. Unfortunately, Layka faced another challenge when she suffered another injury that endangered her remaining front leg. Rebecca Switzer, who met Layka and her caretaker later on, shed light on the situation by saying that it was a serious injury because the dog only had one leg left. This additional complication meant that not only was she already struggling with just one leg, but now there was potential danger to her remaining limb as well.
When Layka was first introduced to the Switzers, they were struck not only by her physical limitations but also by the emotional trauma she had endured during her deployment. Moved by the heroic acts that saved many soldiers’ lives, troops donated generously to a fund established to heal Layka’s broken paw. Thankfully, her trainer worked tirelessly to find her a loving home for adoption.
Although Layka’s background and behavior during training initially raised concerns among family members, McDonald was determined to adopt her as a pet. Fortunately, he was able to do so and Layka transformed from an aggressive military dog to an ideal companion. Upon arriving home, Layka surprised everyone by immediately lying down and allowing McDonald’s one-year-old child to play on her back.
Sergeant McDonald expressed his gratitude towards the dog who saved his life and intends to provide a peaceful and happy retirement for the retiring pup. He stated that he owes everything to the dog and plans to spend every moment with his family as a way of showing his appreciation. National Geographic featured a video showcasing how well Layka blends in with her handler’s family, which can be shared with loved ones without hesitation.