The moving story of a soldier who adopted the brave military dog who saved his life is told in “A Heartwarming Journey.”

Julian viewed Layka as nothing less than a superhero, and he was determined to repay her by rescuing her from any impending danger.

Staff Sergeant Julian McDonald had no idea that sending Layka, a military dog, to clear a building in Afghanistan before he and his team entered it would have such an impact on his future. McDonald was responsible for the well-being of the Belgian Malinois during their time in the country as their handler.

In 2013, the sergeant dispatched a dog to scout the structure before leading his troops inside. The sound of gunfire gave them reason to believe that the facility was dangerous.

A group of armed individuals present in the building fired four shots at Layka from close range. Following this, they aimed their weapons at the soldiers stationed outside. Layka was able to neutralize one of her attackers and save the lives of the soldiers despite suffering injuries.



The skilled veterinarians were able to save the dog from certain death following a grueling seven-hour operation. The procedure, however, required the amputation of one of her legs, leaving her with only three. However, the most crucial factor 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 difficulty when she sustained a second injury to 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 only one leg, but her remaining limb was now also at risk.

When the Switzers first met Layka, they were struck by both her physical limitations and the emotional trauma she had endured during her deployment. The soldiers donated generously to a fund established to heal Layka’s broken paw after being moved by heroism that saved numerous lives. Thankfully, her trainer labored tirelessly to adopt her into a loving family.

McDonald was determined to adopt Layka as a pet, despite the fact that her history and behavior during training initially caused concern among his family. Thankfully, he was able to accomplish this, and Layka transformed from an aggressive military dog into the perfect companion. Layka surprised everyone by immediately lying down and allowing McDonald’s one-year-old child to play on her back upon her return home.

Sergeant McDonald thanked the dog for saving his life, and he intends to provide a peaceful and happy retirement for the retiring dog. He stated that he owes everything to the dog and intends to spend every moment with his family to express his gratitude. A National Geographic video highlighting Layka’s seamless integration with her handler’s family can be freely shared with loved ones.


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