Lucca is a recently retired 12-year-old German Shepard. She’s worked with the United States Marines on over 400 missions and, after losing her leg in Afghanistan four years ago, is finally getting the recognition that she deserves. According to Mashable, the heroic canine received the Dickin Medal at Wellington Barracks in London. This is the highest medal that “any animal in the world can achieve” and Lucca’s still not done inspiring and motivating others.
After retiring from the military due to her injury — Lucca is trained at sniffing out bombs and lost her leg while on patrol in Afghanistan — she’s returned to the United States where she’s living with her former handler, Gunnery Sergeant Chris Willingham, who credits the dog as being “the only reason” that he was able to safely return to his family. With that much gratitude and respect, it’s pretty likely that Lucca’s living out her golden years in luxury, amassing a collection of toys and snacks that any human would be envious of. And with good reason.
Here’s a description of Lucca’s heroics, via The Telegraph:
On the day of her injury, March 23 2012, Lucca successfully discovered a weapons cache hidden under a haystack in a poppy field and alerted troops to a 30lb (14kg) pressure plate IED, which was cleared.
But, after being sent to sniff out a nearby path, another pressure plate bomb detonated underneath Lucca, causing the immediate loss of her front left leg and severe burns to her chest, neck and head.
Miraculously, Lucca was back on her feet less than two weeks later. With this medal, she joins a prestigious group of animals (only 67!) to be awarded the honor.