UPDATE 7/21/2021 –
After 14 wonderful years on this planet, Lucca the German Shepherd passed away of old age. She received a full military burial at the Michigan War Dog Memorial. The brave pup deserves this honor after leading 400 patrols and losing her leg on the job. Marine Master Sergeant Chris Willingham carried the canine hero’s ashes to the burial site as many friends and colleagues paid their respects.
During the ceremony, fellow dogs of war walked in a line to honor their lost friend. Before saying their goodbyes, the crowd saluted Lucca one last time. Her gravestone was surrounded by many flags and beautiful flowers too. Lucca would’ve adored this wonderful tribute, and she’s lucky to have lived a long, fulfilling life.
“Lucca saved my life on multiple occasions,” said Sgnt. Willingham.
Rest in peace, Lucca. Thank you for all your hard work and dedication.
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Lucca is a specially trained German Shepherd that served in the Marines for six years, touring Iraq and Afghanistan. She helped saved thousands of lives with her amazing ability to sniff out explosives, leading 400 patrols. Because of her searching skills, no soldiers were injured when she was leading the way.
Upon finding an improvised explosive device in March of 2012, a secondary device detonated. Lucca was injured in the blast and lost her front leg.
But that didn’t hinder this courageous canine’s zest for life. Able to bound around effortlessly on three legs (just watch the video below!), Lucca became an ambassador for the Military Working Dogs Program after retiring. Now, at 12 years old, this sweet girl is still full of energy!
Because of her fierce dedication, Lucca has been awarded the Dickin Medal by the People’s Dispensary of Sick Animals (PDSA).
In a story by Sky News, PDSA member Jan McLoughlin said, “Lucca’s conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty makes her a hugely deserving recipient of the PDSA Dickin Medal.”
“It is very humbling to be part of this entire process. I think more importantly is that Lucca’s accomplishments are going to help bring awareness and recognition to all our military working dogs and their handlers,” said Lucca’s handler, Gunnery Sergeant Christopher Willingham. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for the dog handlers who have served before me and allowed me to do my job today.”
Watch Gunnery Sergeant Christopher Willingham talk about the unstoppable Lucca on the day she was honored with her medal:
Lucca is the 30th dog to receive the PDSA Dickin Medal since it was founded in 1943 to recognize service animals in WWII. It has previously been received by 32 messenger pigeons, three horses, and one cat.
You may remember the story of Treo, the military dog whose handler memorialized his life-saving companion with a beautiful tattoo. Treo had also been a PDSA Dickin Medal recipient.
Way to go, Lucca! Dogs are not only constant companions, but they are also loyal and intrepid heroes.