01x12 - A Soldier's Best Friend

Episode transcripts for the TV show "The Warfighters". Aired: November 11, 2016 to present.
"The Warfighters" features first-person accounts chronicling recent U.S. Special Operations Forces missions in the global w*r on terror giving an inside and candid look at the realities of w*r.
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01x12 - A Soldier's Best Friend

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Benno was a dog that
was percent warrior

and was all business

when it came to
conducting major missions.


He was always the platoon mascot,

and he had apprehensions.

- He was very legendary.
- Find 'em.

MAN: Having that dog there

is an extra line
and measure of security.

He can save your life.

Rangers are a direct-action raid unit.

They're meant to go in and find
the bag guy and eliminate them.

And the dog's working with them

with that same purpose.

MAN: When you cut a dog loose

inside of a bad guy's house,

the bad guys are
more focused on the dog

and not all the barrel-chested
freedom fighters

coming in there
to do justice to this guy.

MAN: I've seen dogs and what
they're capable of doing

and doing in combat,

and that is a humbling thing,

just the physical prowess of a dog.

TRENT: Military working dogs,

they've been around since World w*r I.

They used them a lot in trench warfare.

They would put a note on a dog

and they would send a dog
across the b*ttlefield.

Then they started using the dog

to carry things like a*mo,

so they could resupply the guys.

CHAD: Now military working dogs

are trained in b*mb
detection, w*apon detection,

they can be trained in drug detection,

and to chase down combatants
that are fleeing.

NEWSCASTER: To do their job in w*r,

they have to be highly aggressive.

NEWSCASTER ♪ : There are nearly
, military working dogs,

and are serving in warzones.

They eat, sleep, and fight
alongside their handlers - .

As a dog handler,

I was always around the action.

If somebody ran from the building,

I was there.

I was the person that they called on.

I'd get to be up there at the breach.

I'd get to be right up there
with the main as*ault.

I'd get to do all the fun stuff.

I was heavily, heavily utilized,

and I wouldn't have had it
any other way.

I'm Julian Trent McDonald,
years old.

I did eight combat deployments
in a matter of six years

throughout my military career...

three to Iraq and five to Afghanistan.

I was born in Clovis, New Mexico,

at Cannon Air Force Base.

My father was in the military.

He had years in the Air Force.

After my parents split up,

probably when I was about years old,

that's when I moved
to northwest Arkansas

with my mother.

We had a big farm, lots of cattle,

lots of horses, goats,
chickens, you name it.

It was one of those
you didn't eat in the morning

until your animals ate.

I would wake up at : in the morning,

feed the animals,

and that would give me enough time

to get to school by , :

to do football practice.

My mom taught me
how to saddle break colts.

That was a hard task,

especially for a hundred-pound kid.

I wasn't a big... I wasn't very
very big in high school.

I left eleventh grade
weighing pounds

soaking wet with
two bricks in my pocket.

I was just a little guy
and there horses were just...

they would manhandle me
and throw me off.

You have to take a whole lot of caution

when approaching something like that.

And if for one second
you disrespect that animal,

you're going to know it, because
the animal has a potential

to hurt you or k*ll you.

That's where my big respect
for animals came from.

My grandfather had a rule

that if you had a dog
and you owned a dog,

you took care of that dog.

Everyday feeding,

everyday maintenance
stuff like that on the animal,

you always took care of it.

What you also took care of
was if the animal decided

it was going to go after farm animals.

I remember I came home
off the school bus

and I look out to the pasture.

I can't find my dog anywhere.

I look out and he's literally

hanging off the side of a cow.

My grandfather comes
and hands me my r*fle.

He says, "Well, this is your problem."

I took the r*fle and I said,
"What do you want me to do?"

He said, "You're going to k*ll him."

I said, "Okay."

Living out on the farm
and living that lifestyle,

it was a lesson that had to be learned.

I learned real quick to train dogs

because I didn't want
to have to k*ll them.

After that, joining the military,

going into basic training,
that was a joke.

That was easy stuff.

I got to eat, I got to sleep,

and all I had to do

was run around and get yelled at.

That was every day on the farm.

Trent McDonald got to Ranger regiment

a few years before I did.

I always called him "Mac."

He's the wild one on deployment.

He's the crazy one.

CHAD: He's a loud guy.

He's full of energy.

But he was honest, and you knew exactly

where he stood on
everything at all times.

I think Mac struggled
early on in the Rangers

keeping himself out of trouble

because I think he has
a lot of play to him.

But he really did find his calling

with the dog section,

because when he went there,

he didn't have any trouble at all

focusing on task at hand.

TRENT: In spring of , I
went to the dog section.

When I got there, I found out

that I was getting this dog Benno.

I had a big problem
with Benno at the time.

CHAD: He had a reputation of not being

the most stellar dog.

Benno is a steely-eyed idiot

with four legs, really.

He got kicked out of Afghanistan,

came to Iraq... the dog did.

Bit a bunch of as*ault out in Iraq

and they didn't know
what to do with this dog.

So now they give this new guy this dog

and I almost looked at it

as if it was too much too soon.

Almost like, "Wait a minute."

I don't even know how to handle a dog.

"Why are you giving me this thing?"

CHAD: When McDonald had him,

it was initially a power struggle.

Benno tested McDonald's limits.

McDonald trying to be
the handler to Benno.

TRENT: It was a big
love-hate relationship

right from the get-go.

On my first mission with him,

I popped his muzzle
off of him real quick,

and then when I went to go release him,

I released him right into the back

of a team leader's calf.

Yeah, that wasn't a very good day.

There was a lot of learning
curves that deployment.

We were going out on a mission

to find a known
enemy combatant's compound.

- [g*n]

We did a call-out
trying to get these guys

to put down their w*apon and come out.

- They still didn't.
- Seven, this Tango.

Prepping K for as*ault.

TRENT: I got the go ahead

to go ahead and release Benno.

You ready? You ready?

That's when a good burst
of machine g*n

came through the breach.

I grabbed him, I dragged him back,

and what happened is
I overcorrected him

by putting too much pressure on him

and I ended up paying the price for it.


He bit me so hard I started puking.


The guy next to me, he said,
"I really want to help you,

but you have to get
your dog off you first."

I remember thinking
to myself, "Are you serious?"

I have to get this dog off me, too?"

He actually didn't eat his food

for two or three days after he bit me.

He just refused to eat his food.

It was almost like he knew
that he did something wrong.

I had to train that dog to standard,

because you don't
want a dog on the ground

that all your boys behind you rely on,

and when you cut him loose

all they're worried about is
"Is he gonna eat me?"

Seven, this is Tango. Dog muzzled.

We had to go through a lot of scenarios

and we had to go through
a lot of things

for me to openly trust Benno
and be like,

"All right, this dog knows
what he's doing."

Not only that, but then to have
the platoon I was working with

have that same trust that I had,

it was just as important.

I will probably say the biggest
thing I learned from Benno

is that he demanded
a certain amount of respect.

I think me bringing him
around the platoon

and around the boys as much as I did

really helped him to be like,

"Oh, these guys are part
of my team, too.

These guys aren't just people
out there that I can bite."

You'd see other platoons
and they wouldn't have

that interaction with their dog,

or dog handler, for that matter.

Growing up, I wasn't
necessarily a dog person,

so I made it a point
to go see the dog every day,

have the dog smell me...

more for my own personal protection.

But it actually turned
into a friendship

with McDonald and Benno.

My name's Chad Clough,
I'm years old,

and I serve in the United States Army.

As I child, I was always into sports

and getting into trouble,

trying to make people laugh.

I did karate.

I always wanted to compete,

so I after I earned my black belt,

I really focused on competing

and I earned several world titles

at a pretty young age.

I fought in Venezuela

and I went to Canada multiple times,

went to Vegas and Atlanta.

It was cool as a child,
getting to travel,

getting to do something you love to do.

From a very early age,

it was always in the back of my mind

that I wanted to join the military.

All the research I had done

was that the Rangers were the
premiere direct-action force.

And if you're gonna do a mission,

I figured direct-action
would be the best mission

to be a part of.

My first deployment was in ,

and it was McDonald's first
deployment as a dog handler.

He lived right across the little
hall from me that we were in.

Chad Clough, just another guy
with a huge personality,

awesome sense of humor.

Chad and Dillon took a big...

they really liked the dog.

They really liked
the capabilities of the dog.

MAN: Bite 'em!

I would have them help me
every once in awhile.

Oh, yeah, Misha!

I would do classes
where they would come in

and they would see training.

"Hey, this is what a dog looks like"

when he finds an expl*sive.

"This is what a change
in behavior looks like."

You couldn't watch Mac
and not understand

that this guy is passionate

about training and caring for dogs.

CHAD: I always used to joke

with my friends in the platoon

that McDonald was such
a good dog handler

because he was an animal himself

and he could just...

he was on the same level as Benno.

He's an animal, Benno was an animal,

and they enjoyed the same things.

DILLON: You couldn't have matched
up their personalities better...

really aggressive on target,

want to find and k*ll some bad guys.

And then off target?

"I just want to create havoc,

mess something up,
and have a good time."

CHAD: The whole platoon
got to know Benno,

and Benno went from being this...

almost like an outcast dog

when he came to the platoon
with McDonald

to being the platoon's mascot.

He would come into the platoon area

and we loved Benno and Benno loved us.

There was just this jerk running around

eating your boots, jumping on you,

smashing things over.

You couldn't get in the team room

and be prepping your stuff
without the dog

running in there
and just crashing stuff.

Walked into the TOC one day,

and these guys had two basketballs,

and Benno is attacking one basketball.

He pops that basketball.

Goes after the other
basketball, pops that,

and everybody's looking at me
like I'm the bad guy.

And I'm like, "You guys are the ones"

teasing him with a ball."

The thing we jabbed Mac for

was having a love affair with this dog.

He would go somewhere,

the dog was going to be there.

I'm pretty sure I saw the dog

coming out of the showers
with him, too.

Benno has a lot of names in battalion.

He would pick up a nickname
here, a nickname there.

Some were descriptive,

some were inappropriate.

Rock Eater, Rock Muncher,

Zombie Dog, Fur m*ssile.

Hellhound was one of them.

CHAD: Benno has lost a lot of teeth

due to bites in training,
bites in combat.

So we joked that we had the best dog...

military working dog there ever was

and he had two teeth.

Benno would have been surprised

to see himself in the mirror.

I don't think Benno
thought of himself as a dog.

Or maybe he just thought dogs

walked around on two legs
and had r*fles.

TRENT: He was a character,

and he brought a lot of home

to a place that wasn't so homey.

He was able to bridge a gap
of being there,

but still kind of having
the feeling of being home.

There's this bond that's hard
to really put into words.

He's part of the team.

It didn't take long
for Benno and McDonald

to really gel together
and be a cohesive force.

TRENT: After my first deployment,
my second, my third,

and my fourth deployment with him,

we were a well... well-oiled machine.


DILLON: You really bond with a dog well

when the dog is executing
the same tasks that you are.

CHAD: There was one incident
where there was a tunnel

that led to an underground room.

We were stacked, waiting to go in,

and we opted to send the dog in first.

Benno got excited
to do stuff like that.

All of the sudden you hear
a man screaming for his life.

When we got down there,

the enemy combatant
was holding a burlap sack

that Benno was biting.

Benno had scared this guy so much

that he was in fear for his life

and was screaming
like he was about to die.

So Benno detained the guy
without ever biting him

just from... he scared the guy
into submission pretty much.

That's the type of dog Benno was.

He was... he was...

he could be very scary.

Benno was a dog that
was percent warrior

and was all business

when it came to conducting
Ranger missions.


We're going after some dudes
who are pretty radicalized,

and when those guys flee
and run for their lives

and they run into
some thick opium fields,

those dudes are real thr*at.

But when you have a dog like Benno

that you could release
into a field like that,

then everybody's like,
"Whew, all right.

He's going to find them."

DILLON: This dog is going to go after

with a high sense of prejudice

towards the enemy and eliminate him.

I first met Benno in in Kandahar.

I kinda showed up
and it's my first deployment.

The only thing I know about warfare

is what I'd seen in the movies

and played on video games.

Then I see this dog.

Benno has several deployments
more than me.

This dog's roaming around

as a grizzled veteran with four legs,

and I'm thinking... again,
it's my first deployment.

I'm thinking, "Now, wait a second."

People are acting like this dog

is deserving more respect than me.

"What's going on here?"

I'm Dillon Ford, I'm years old,

and I served in the Army
with the US Rangers.

Growing up, I would say
I had a drug problem.

I was drugged to church on Sunday,

drugged to church on Wednesday,

and drugged to church
on Saturday night, too.

That was really formative
for me growing up,

and I also had this fascination
with the military,

specifically with the Rangers.

As John : would say,

"And this is how we know love,"

that Christ laid down his life for us,

and so we ought to be willing

"to lay down our lives
for our brothers."

That sounds like
what a call to arms is.

I wanted to be on
the very tip of the spear.

I wanted direct-action.

TRENT: Oh, yeah, buddy?

You ready? Huh?

You ready, buddy? Oh, yeah.

DILLON: Benno, he was the
only dog I'd worked with.

He'd been on more
deployments than I had.

This dog very excitedly
and very willingly

ran into danger time and time again.

At one point, me and my team

were maneuvering around
to get a squirter.

A squirter is any time
you've got an isolated target

that you're going after
and you've got someone

who breaks out of the perimeter.

You don't want them to get away,

so you're going to chase them around.

You have a grasp
that as you squeeze in,

something squirts out.

We're in a swampy area.

Everyone's kind of looking around.


Benno is just running
around like an idiot.

He keeps going off into the swamp.

This dog is splashing
around in the water.

"You're going to
give away our position."

He gets on this other guy in the marsh.


I didn't even catch

that we had another squirter

off to the right.


At that point, he becomes
this highly efficient

and highly effective tool of warfare.

Good boy!

You look at things like that

and say the dog has saved your life.

This dog's going to get me home

after this deployment.




TRENT: It was my birthday,
and I was hoping that

we were going to get
a lot of squirters.

We haven't had anybody squirt

from any target compound,

it seemed like the whole deployment.

Benno was so experienced

you could tell he knew
what was going down

every time he got onto a helicopter.

He was the type of dog
that I could put down...

I could put his vest down

and he walk into it and stand there.

We would load the aircraft

and the boys would come up around

and they would get
come loving off Benno.

That specific night, I was on the
same bird as McDonald and Benno.

I was tasked with going on
a squirter chase.

At three minutes, the whole aircraft

would get up and take a knee.

That's instantly when the dog knew,

"Hey, it's go-time."

We got off the helicopter
and we got a call

that the squirters had starbursted,

which means... when we hear that,

that means that there's guys who fled

in every direction.

The first squirter I went and got,

I released Benno on him

and he ran right up there and bit him.

Textbook. Perfect.

The guy brought the dog to me

begging me pretty much
to get the dog off him.

CHAD: We followed another guy

that fled the target compound

into a wood line.

That's pretty thick vegetation

with both underbrush and actual trees.

We used an interpreter to call him out,

tell him that we had him,

just come out, surrender.

He didn't respond and play along.

At that time we made the call

to use the dog.


Dog got a bite. Dog got a bite.

Seven, this is Tango. Dog got a bite.


Benno was biting him,
but it seemed like

the guy was looking like

he was trying to reach for something

or grab for something.


- [g*n]

I didn't even see the p*stol.

I remember I walked up.

I remember it happened
and it was like...

in my head I was thinking,

"Oh, my God. We can fix this."

I remember I rolled him over

and I felt a lot of blood.

I looked, and I was like,

"Oh, no. He's done."

I saw McDonald carrying
Benno in his arms.

I knew something was wrong

because Benno was not
one to be carried.

McDonald laid Benno down and was like,

"There's nothing
you could do. He's d*ad."

Thanks, buddy. Thank you.

It sucked. It hurt.

I just lost my best friend.

And it was...

it hurt so much,

but it was something that I couldn't...

I couldn't process it right there.

There were still two more
guys that had to be got,

and I wanted to make sure

that they paid for my dog's death.

And they did.

CHAD: It drastically changed the mood.

because it spread around real fast

that Benno didn't make it.

We had to walk a few kilometers

to where we were
going to get picked up,

and we all took turns carrying Benno.

As the walk went on,

you could tell it was
sinking in for McDonald.

He walked next to me
for a good portion of it,

and you could tell it was sinking in.


TRENT: After we had
gathered up his remains

and we had brought him
back to the base,

I saw a lot of emotions

come from a lot of guys

who I have a lot of respect for.

All the guys in the as*ault force,

they just showed so much love for him.

I mean, not only as a dog,
but as a Ranger.

Those guys, they all respected him.

They all loved him.

CHAD: Benno was our mascot,

and our mascot just got k*lled.

We held a platoon memorial for Benno.

We had a picture
from the deployment before

of Benno behind a g*n
in a helicopter.

Everyone gathered and a few people

said some words about Benno

and that was it.

A lot of people loved that dog.

You memorialize him to remember him

and to thank him
for the work he's done,

and half of that is appreciating

every time he went out there
and saved you.

CHAD: Benno loved what he did,

and he was the best
military working dog

a platoon could ask for.

He was warrior through and through,

and I don't think Benno

would have enjoyed life after that,

and I know he was
getting ready to retire

as a military working dog.

And if Benno could have
chose a way to go out,

I believe he would have chose
to go out on the b*ttlefield.

But I felt worse for McDonald's loss,

because McDonald lost his best friend.

Basically, one half of Mac is gone.

I think to be a dog handler,
it takes a very special,

very certain kind of bond
with those dogs.

And so losing that,
that's a real hard deal.

CHAD: Benno died on
McDonald's birthday,

which compounded the loss, I feel.

That's the worst birthday present

a dog handler could get, I think,

is having your dog die
on your birthday.

I was still in a whole lot of shock,

so I was still really
pretty much emotionless.

I remember that when I went to go

pick him up from the morgue,
the regular Army,

he did something that was
really, really touching.

In the morgue, they all
came out of the morgue,

and they were shoulder to shoulder.

And they did something... they put

Benno's remains were draped
in an American flag,

and his toe tag said
"Staff Sergeant Benno, Hero."

And here are these
regular Army guys that...

they've never messed with this dog.

They've never pet this dog.

They've never seen this dog.

They don't have any...

any connection with
this animal whatsoever,

but yet they're treating him
as if he is...

a soldier,

not just a dog, but a soldier.

They brought tears to my eyes.

After Benno got k*lled,
Mac needed another dog.

Operations roll on,

and we're going to need
a working dog with him.

TRENT: When I got to Kandahar,

it was like, "Hey,
here's Benno's remains."

Gave a quick brief to the vet.

The vet was real emotional.

And I got to pick between two dogs.

One dog was a male dog named Rico.

Rico had already
been on two deployments

and hadn't done anything spectacular.

And then I saw Layka.

She this f*re in her eyes.

She would get really, really excited

really quickly over some small
things, and I like that,

because that's something
that I can use.

Another selfish reason
why I picked Layka

is because was really
stubborn like Benno...

had a lot of the same qualities

and a lot of the same characteristics

as good old Beans did.

CHAD: When McDonald
came back with Layka,

we were so accustomed

to the McDonald-Benno relationship

that was seamless,

that it was very foreign to the platoon

to watch the struggle

between a dog and dog handler.

DILLON: Layka's demeanor
was not like Benno's.

And... I was about to say
you got big boots to fill,

but I guess in this case
you got big paws to fill.

TRENT: She didn't like
to go into dark rooms,

which is a problem for me,

because that's what we do.

We go into dark places
and we go into dark rooms.

So it took a lot of...

It took a lot of remedial training.

CHAD: McDonald one time asked me

if I'd do bite suit training with him.

"Sure, I'll do bite suit training,"

because I used to not really
let on to the fact

that part of these dogs terrified me.

I'm asking all these in-depth questions

trying to prepare myself.

Yeah, yeah.

It's a little tough to get that.

I remember him telling me

that when the dog bites the sleeve,

you need to yell
like it's really biting you,

so it doesn't try to really bite you.

If I was scared before,

I was even a little more scared then.


Hey! Hey!

I remember waiting for it.

Her eyes lit up

and she latched on to the bite sleeve.

I was thoroughly impressed
with how strong

a -pound dog could possibly be.

- Get her!

How you doing, man?
You doing all right? Okay.

TRENT: The whole platoon got involved,

and that was something
that really motivated me,

because never once
has the whole platoon

ever gathered around and been like,

"Hey, let's do some K training."

MAN: Sit.

I had a dog that
I had to train to standard

and I had to get to a certain point

to where the boys could trust her.

I needed that trust
more than I needed a mascot.





TRENT: When I lost Benno
and we got a new dog,

there was a sense of urgency.

"Hey, we need this dog

to as close as we can
get her to Benno."

CHAD: They would do training,
and you could tell

that she would purposely not do things.

From the outside looking in,
it was comical.

But I'm sure from his point
of view it wasn't as funny

working with a brand new dog

that liked to push his buttons.

With Layka, no one had a story
about her saving their lives,

because the first few missions

didn't make her look like an all-star.

We'd get back to base

and the standard response from Mac was,

"I know, guys.
I'm going to work with her."

TRENT: After doing a lot
of remedial training,

getting Layka to go into dark rooms,

it really paid off.

CHAD: The platoon accepted
Layka really fast

as a trustworthy dog

because McDonald said she was.


- We trusted him.

This specific night,

we had followed several fighters.

We knew that they were heavily armed.

TRENT: We landed.

We rapidly contained
the target compound.

It was textbook.


When we started proceeding
with our call-outs...


We called in a Hellfire
strike on the compound.

It collapsed the wall
and part of the roof.

TRENT: The compound was
really dilapidated.

At that point in time, I looked at it,

"and I was like," Yeah,
everybody's d*ad in there.

I feel comfortable. Let's send Layka."

The squad leader, he said,

"I'm going to show her this
thermal barrier grenade."

It looked like a ball.

Layka, watch it.

Me and him are sitting there counting,

" , , ."


DILLON: She lunges in there,

and I don't know what
they're stepping into.

with me pulling security outside.

Dog on bite. Dog on bite.

- Hey, Seven...

Hey, I got one EKIA. Give me a second.

Let me get the dog off of him.

TRENT: She's bitten
this... what I thought

was an enemy k*lled in action.

And as I reached down,

that's when the guy comes back to life.


And I thought, "Oh, God, I'm d*ad."

I'm d*ad."

Literally, that's what I thought.

I thought I was done for.

I fell back, and that's
when another team leader,

he took the shots
to go ahead and end him.

MAN: Layka. Hey, come here.

Here! Here! Come on girl!

Layka. Here! Here!

So I started recalling Layka.

When she came to me, she had
her left arm in her mouth.

It was in her mouth

and it was only held on by tendons.

I grabbed her, and I remember

the only thing I thought
to do was just run.

It's okay. I got you.

CHAD: The dog was back
to a safe distance.

You see the medic start
working on her leg.

Everyone started to re-engage

the best they could.

TRENT: We got her relaxed.

That's when we started
to do work on her

and figure out the extent of
the damage that was done.

You have to dig through fur
and clumps of hair.

I'm doing blood sweeps on her,

and I come to her arm

and we see the path
that the round had taken

had hit her in top of the shoulder

and hit her in that bone socket,

completely decimating that joint.

I remember there was
a split second there...

I remember that's when it all hit me,

and I was like, "Here I am"

in this situation again."

It hasn't even been a month.

DILLON: The rest of the mission,
you've got this working dog

that you pull out of there and
you're trying to give aid to,

but you still have to continue
conducting operations.

We go ahead and achieve the objective,

but Layka gets sh*t.

She went in there and sacrificed

to keep me and the other guys safe.

She probably saved
three lives that night.

CHAD: Everyone understood the magnitude

of what could have happened
if she hadn't been there.

We got word that she was still alive

and we were all hoping
that she'd pull through,

but it was out of our hands
at that point in time.


From the time she got sh*t

to the time the mission was over,

it was probably about two...

I'd say two and half hours.

We had her on plenty of narcotics

and she was comfortable,

so we were just going to ride it out

and get her home with the rest of us.

We returned from that thinking,

"Man, I hope she makes it."

She obviously...

she had to go out of country.

She had several surgeries.

She ended up losing a leg.

TRENT: They took out
the whole shoulder.

And there was another
pretty serious injury

that happened to her.

It was on the right tricep.

Surgeons made the assessment

that they did not have the equipment

and the tools needed,

so they made the request

to put her on a medevac bird

and send her to Germany.

And they performed

another seven-hour surgery

once they got her there.

I waited for about two to three days

to figure out, "Is she gonna make it?"

Is she going to heal up

and is she going to make it

"to be able to live a full life?"

Layka no longer fighting in a w*r zone,

but she's fighting for her recovery.

As you see here,
she's learning to walk again

with that remaining front leg.

This is at the University of Tennessee.

CHAD: Everyone was excited

that she was going to pull through.

Then we found out
that she had lost a leg.

We were so happy that she lived,

that the jokes started
flowing pretty fast...

nicknames for her...

Tripod and whatever it may be.

DILLON: We were sitting there thinking,

"This is a big victory

that this dog even survived."

And Mac's thought was already

on the process of,

"She's going to survive,"

but what are we going to do

"to support her after she survives?"

TRENT: When I got back
home from that deployment,

probably one of the first
phone calls I made

was to Lackland Air Force Base.

They weren't really ready
to release her to me,

because they thought
she was too aggressive.

DILLON: There was a lot of resistance

to him adopting this dog,
the thought being

it's wounded animal,

it's a dog that's specifically bred

and trained as an att*ck dog.

And you want to bring that
into a domestic setting?

You're going to have it around people?

You have a military-grade
w*apon with legs,

and it's injured.

But Mac was unswayed by that logic.

They didn't want to give her to me

because I had a year and a half-old boy

who was just a toddler.

So they were afraid that she
was going to get ahold of him

and something bad could happen,

and they didn't want
any of that falling on them.

"And I said," Let me try
to give her a sh*t

at having a full life."

And they did.

I went to San Antonio, picked her up,

and now she's been part of
my family ever since.

This is Layka.

This is Big Booty Judy.

Her and my son are like
two peas in a pod.

He's always doing stuff
and blaming it on her.

She had every reason
to come out of this

and be completely neurotic

and be completely crazy

for what's happened to her.

But she came out, and she is so social,

and she's so "lovey,"
and she's so sweet.

And when I see her transition like that

to normal life, to regular life,

she inspires me.

"Man, if she can do it, I can do it."

If she can be that social,

then I can be that social.

DILLON: I'm really excited
about the opportunity

that Mac's created for himself,

and, really, opportunities
that Layka's helped provide.

CHAD: McDonald continued
to be a great dog handler

after I left the service.

Maybe it is because
he is an animal himself,

but I think he found
his calling in life

when he became a dog handler.

He really excelled at it.

TRENT: I have my own kennel.
I have nine dogs.

And what I do out there is I do exactly

what I did when I was in the Army.

I train them how to find b*mb

and I train them to apprehend bad guys.

As far as what Layka's doing,

I think she's just basking in her glory

and lording over her position.

TRENT: She gets to watch
"Grey's Anatomy."

She's like a diva.

She's her own person.

She does what she wants.

She looks at my kennel dogs

like they're common dogs.

I wouldn't be in the position
that I'm in right now

if it wasn't for her.

And Benno, I think about him every
time I turn on my computer.

He's my screen-saver.

He's my buddy.

When you walk into my kennel,

I have massive banners of Benno, Layka,

my brothers that I've lost in combat,

and they're all sitting up there.

So every time I go into work,

I see him, I think of him.

CHAD: Being on those deployments

and seeing what dogs can do

really opens your eyes.

They're capable of so much more

than what people give them credit for

or respect them for.

TRENT: Come here.

Good girl.

ANNOUNCER: Fans, please
direct your attention

to the north end zone,
as we welcome Layka,

a five-year-old Belgian Malinois,

to Neyland Stadium.

Layka is a decorated w*r dog
that saved the lives

of American troops in Afghanistan.


Let's give a big orange
round of applause

for the caregivers from the
college of veterinary medicine

and service dog and hero Layka!
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