Soldier adopts badly injured military dog that saved his life

When handler Staff Sgt. Julian McDonald sent the trained military dog, Layka, to clear a building in Afghanistan before he and the troopers headed in, he had no idea that from that moment on, his life would change forever.

That day back in 2013, the sergeant sent the dog to clear the building, then he and other soldiers would follow. However, the building was not safe, and soon the soldiers heard gunfire.


Armed men were inside and they shot Layka four times from point blank before targeting the troopers. Thankfully, although badly injured, Layka managed to subdue her shooter and saved the soldiers’ lives.

The brave dog underwent a seven-hour-long surgery in order for vets to save her life, and she ended up with one amputated leg. Still, she was alive and that was all that mattered.

The dog had to go through physiotherapy in order to be able to walk and move independently again, and, once she had completed therapy, she was even able to attack again.

But that was until she had a second accident that put her remaining front leg in jeopardy.

“It’s a big injury because she only has one leg,” she said at the time. “She struggled along with one leg and now her other leg is in jeopardy.”

The Switzers, who started a fundraiser for Layka when they first met her and then returned with raising more funds when she needed help again, explained that it wasn’t only about the dog’s physical struggles, but also the trauma that deployment left on her.

Many soldiers whose lives Layka saved raised money so that the dog could have her paw treated. But the best thing of all is that her handler did everything in his power in order to adopt her.

Although he was discouraged by friends and family, being told that Layka’s training and trauma would make her too aggressive to be a family dog, McDonald was determined to take her home.

Indeed, he managed to officially adopt her and the once aggressive military dog became the perfect family pet in an instant.

You see, once McDonald brought her home, the dog immediately lay down and let the soldier’s then one-year-old son crawl on her back and play. Who would have ever expected that?

Sgt McDonald is forever grateful to the dog that saved his life and he wants to give the retired pup the calm and happy life she deserves after deployment.


“I owe this dog every moment that I have from here on with […] my family. I owe her everything,” McDonald told National Geographic.

See how Layka has integrated with her handler’s family life in the video below!

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