This is an amazing story of a dog and her bravery, dedication and heroism. On Tuesday, April 5, 2016, Lucca, a 12-year old German Shepherd United States Marine Corps dog, received the honorary award known as the Dickin Medal, the highest honor in the world for service dogs. The ceremony was held in London, England at the Wellington Barracks, presented by the British veterinary charity known as the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals.
Lucca Honored for Her Bravery as a Marine Service Dog
Lucca was honored with the award for protecting allied troops throughout her six years of Middle East service. Throughout those six years, Lucca took part in over 400 missions and no human lives were lost during her time of service and dedication.
Lucca retired from active duty service in March of 2012, after a devastating accident. Om March 23, 2012, while Lucca was in Afghanistan sniffing out IED (Improvised Explosive Devices), Lucca found a 30 pound IED that was immediately cleared. However, there was another IED that went off, causing burns on Lucca’s head, neck and chest areas. Unfortunately, Lucca also lost one of her front legs in the explosion.
— Carl (@AirForce_Carl) April 5, 2016
Her human handler at the time was Cpl. Juan Rodriguez, who immediately scooped her up after the blast, took cover at a nearby shelter, wrapped a tourniquet on her leg and called for assistance. Lucca was taken to Camp Pendleton in California, along with Cpl. Rodriguez who stayed by her side during every step of her recovery process. During an interview with The Telegraph, Cpl. Rodriguez said about Lucca’s recovery period, “Through all of her treatment, and despite the pain she was in, her temperament never changed. Her fighting spirit was plain to see, and I was so proud of how quickly she recovered.”
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) April 5, 2016
The Dickin Medal was established in 1943, and since its inception, it has been awarded to 67 animals, including 31 dogs, 32 World War II messenger pigeons, 3 horses and 1 cat. Lucca is the first United States Marine Corps service dog to have ever received the award, however. Another dog, Diesel, will also be receiving the award this year, posthumously. Diesel was a 17-year-old Belgian shepherd French police dog that died on November 18, 2015, just five days after the horrific terror attacks in Paris, France. Diesel was sent into a building to try and locate any of the suspected terrorists but passed away from multiple gunshot wounds.
We’re really happy for Lucca; she deserves this honor! All service dogs are incredibly brave and loyal. Have you ever worked with a service dog? Tell us your experiences below.