Belgian Malinois Layka

Photo of Layka, a Belgian Malinois, who received recent military honors. ThePostGame.com

With so many branches of the military right in our backyard, we here in San Diego have a special appreciation for the men and women who serve our country in uniform. At Fon Jon, we also have extra gratitude for the canines that serve. Though few in number, these specially trained dogs are able to help our troops at home and overseas.

Recently, a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois named Layka became the first canine to receive an honor from the 341st Training Squadron. This Air Force Squadron is responsible for training military dogs, and Layka is the first to receive an honor from the unit.

Layka served with a U.S. Special Forces unit in Afghanistan. Dispatched to inspect a building for explosives and enemy combatant, the Belgian Shepherd was ambushed by an enemy attacker. The dog took multiple gunshot wounds in her abdomen and right front leg, and yet despite these injuries, she successfully attacked and subdued the assailant. That’s a tremendous amount of dedication to protecting her team.

Layka was treated by her handler and a physician’s assistant on site, then had to be flown out of the area for what was the first of several surgeries. Unfortunately, doctors were unable to save her right front leg, which had been shot during the attack. Upon returning to the U.S., Layka started rehabilitation at San Antonio’s Daniel Holland Military Working Dog Hospital.

Now retired and no longer on active duty, Layka lives in Georgia with her handler who adopted her. She was awarded a medal of heroism from the parent organization of the 341st Training Squadron, the 37th Training Group. Major Jason Harris, commander of the 341st TRS, presented the honor. Major Harris noted that while “the medal is unofficial because no decoration exists for military working dogs, … we felt Layka deserved recognition. What these dogs do, day in and day out, is phenomenal. They do save lives.”

We agree, and offer our thanks to Layka, her fellow service canines, and all of our troops serving around the world. To see pictures of Layka, check out this story on The Post Game.