Rest in peace, Kaya
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Okay, after watching this video that Southwest Airlines shared on Tuesday, we’re all in tears.
On February 2, a special guest boarded a flight from Dallas to Love Field: Kaya, a German Shepherd service dog who was traveling on her last voyage.
The flight’s pilot informed passengers that Kaya, who was flying with her handler Cole Lyle, had recently been diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer.
The pilot said that Kaya had received training to assist veterans with their mental health. Even more significantly, she served as the model for the PAWS Act, which established a program to train dogs for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Cole, a veteran of the Marine Corps, and she frequented Southwest’s aircraft more than 250 times together.
As she returns home to rest where she was born and where she first met Cole, the pilot observed, “We have the melancholy honor of taking her on what will be her last flight.”
The flight applauded after the pilot’s announcement, and Kaya stood up from her blanket.
Cole helped Kaya get off the plane when they landed in Dallas, and Southwest offered a wheelchair to help with her mobility concerns in the terminal.
Kaya passed unexpectedly a few days later, according to Cole, who tweeted about it.
Cole wrote, “My heart is devastated and I’m numb without. “But now that you’re pain-free, it’s happy. I appreciate how you personify “Semper Fidelis.””
Cole explained how Kaya saved his life in an interview with WFAA.
Cole served in the Marine Corps for six years, including a deployment in Afghanistan. He then returned to North Texas with PTSD.
“I tried medication and therapy. The medications had the opposite effect. I went downhill and was on the verge of becoming a veteran suicide statistic,” Cole said.
When he encountered a fellow veteran with a service dog, he was searching for anything that might be of use.
The runt of a litter of purebred German Shepard puppies born between Denton and Fort Worth, he discovered Kaya.
He explained that she had received special training to assist him in waking him up from dreams, stopping anxiety attacks, and other similar things.
Cole claims that Kaya prevented his suicide.
He stated that a dog “may be a tremendous thing to keep you around.” If you reach that moment, you will likely say, “Well, I can’t leave the dog,” as you stare down at the animal. I would be missed by the dog.
Kaya assisted Cole in obtaining his A&M degree and graduated alongside him.
Cole learned about the influence of a four-legged lobbyist when he was appointed as an advisor to the US Senate on veterans’ legislation.
Together, they persuaded Democrats and Republicans in Congress to approve the PAWS Act.
In the nation’s capital, Kaya was leading a charmed and influential life. She was well-known and adored by politicians, visited the White House and the U.S. Capitol, and made friends with famous people and athletes.
But a cancer diagnosis ended that charmed life far too soon.
She was unable to eat due to a tumor behind her tongue, and she was unable to walk or play because of balance concerns.
Cole remarked through tears, “I didn’t want her to remain in pain and suffer after all the grief and suffering that she stopped.
She is a Texas native, and he declared, “I didn’t want her to die in Virginia.”
Cole and Kaya took that last journey on Southwest Airlines for that reason.
Kaya’s family, friends, and fellow soldiers said him farewell when he touched down in Dallas.
Cole then took her to College Station, where they went to all the same spots they used to.
Cole held her for a few hours at a pond close to the Bush School of Government and Public Service.
The Small Animal Teaching Hospital then gently assisted Kaya in entering an unending sleep.
“Waking up for the first time without her was incredibly difficult, but she had a big impact and a tremendous legacy, “Added Cole. “If there is any comfort in her narrative, it is that so many people are connecting with it and, perhaps, benefiting so many veterans.