Julian saw Layka as his hero, and he intended to save her life just as she had saved his.
Staff Sergeant Julian McDonald had no clue that sending Layka, a trained military dog, inside an Afghan building to clear it before he and the men entered would affect the path of his life for the rest of his life.
McDonald was in charge of Layka, a Belgian Malinois military dog, while in Afghanistan.
The sergeant sent the dog to check the building on that fateful day in 2013, planning to follow behind with the rest of his men once everything was secure. The soldiers suspected the facility was not safe when they heard bullets fired.
Armed men inside the building shot Layka four times at point blank range before turning their sights on the soldiers outside. Layka was able to incapacitate her assailant and rescue the soldiers’ lives despite her injuries.
The veterinarians were successful in saving the dog’s life after a seven-hour operation, but the procedure left her with only one leg. The most crucial element was that she was still alive.
The dog required physiotherapy before it could walk and move freely again; nonetheless, she was eager to attack again following treatment.
But then she suffered another injury that put her remaining front leg in jeopardy.
Rebecca Switzer, an Oklahoma native who met Layka and her caretaker at a later occasion, offered insight on the situation.
“It’s a significant injury since she only has one leg,” she explained at the time. It was bad enough that she was hobbling on one leg; now the other one may be in danger as well.
When the Switzers initially met Layka and then returned with additional donations when she needed aid again, they remarked that it wasn’t only about her physical limitations, but also about the trauma that deployment had left her with.