IMPACT

Lucca, Military Dog Who Worked In Afghanistan, Tours HuffPost Offices (PHOTOS)

02/08/2013 07:19 pm ET | Updated Feb 10, 2013

Lucca still isn't completely comfortable around other dogs after having served in Afghanistan as a specialized search dog trained to find explosives like IEDs.

It's not that she has post-traumatic stress disorder, her owner says, but she's still getting used to playing with fellow canines.

"She's a very resilient animal," Gunnery Sgt. Chris Willingham said, noting that even blasts at a nearby construction site don't seem to faze her at all.

SCROLL FOR PHOTOS OF LUCCA

In March, Lucca, an 8-year-old German shepherd-Belgian Malinois mix, lost a leg to a homemade explosive device while on patrol in Helmand Province in Afghanistan, Willingham said on Friday when he visited HuffPost's New York offices with his valiant pet.

Now, Lucca is living a happily retired life in Helsinki, Finland, where she loves to play in the snow, Willingham said. Lucca lives with him and his family, including his 3-year-old boy and 5-year-old girl.

The canine sleeps right next to him, Willingham said, and she snores all night long.

Lucca is currently on tour with the U.S. Military Working Dogs National Monument, the first national monument to be erected as tribute to military canines. The granite-and-bronze monument, which is being transported by truck as part of the tour, will be dedicated to every dog that's served in the military since World War II at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, where most of the Army's military dogs are trained.

The retired dog loves being on tour, Willingham said, because "she gets a lot of lovin'."

The U.S. Military Working Dogs Monument tour is sponsored by Petco and Natural Balance Pet Foods, a Los Angeles-based pet food company founded by actor Dick Van Patten. The project was launched in 2001 by the John Burnam Monument Foundation, whose founder, John Burnam, has written books about dogs in combat and previously worked alongside military dogs during the Vietnam War, according to the foundation's website.

The historic Military Working Dogs Monument will be erected this coming October in San Antonio, Texas, after its country-wide tour is completed.

PHOTOS of Lucca:

Lucca The Military Dog's Story
Suggest a correction
367 Comments

CONVERSATIONS