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Veteran’s loyal service dog gets a special send-off on her final flight home

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Service dogs are a blessing for many, especially for veterans. They offer a therapeutic form of companionship that can help treat conditions like PTSD. For veterans like Marine Corps veteran Cole Lyle, these dogs can become their closest confidants and best friends.

Cole, from North Texas, returned from a six-year tour in Afghanistan with PTSD. He tried therapy and medication but found little relief. However, a fellow veteran suggested he try getting a service dog, and that’s when he found Kaya, a German Shepherd. Despite having to spend $10,000 of his own money to have her trained, Kaya became a lifesaver for Cole. She was trained to awaken him from nightmares and stop anxiety attacks, and Cole credits her with saving his life.

Kaya not only impacted Cole’s life but also made a difference for veterans nationwide. After Cole became a US Senate advisor on veterans’ policies, the duo advocated for the PAWS Act, which provides canine training for veterans with PTSD. The act was enacted into law in August 2021 with bipartisan support.

Kaya had a remarkable life, meeting many politicians, celebrities, and accompanying Cole on countless flights. Unfortunately, Kaya was diagnosed with a tumor in January, and Cole didn’t want her to suffer. He took her on her final flight from Virginia to Texas, where Southwest Airlines paid a touching tribute to the duo. The pilot made a special announcement on the intercom, introducing Kaya and explaining her work as a service dog. The passengers erupted in applause, and after the flight, Southwest Airlines even provided a cart to help with Kaya’s mobility.

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A few days later, Cole announced that Kaya had passed away. Despite her loss, Kaya will always be remembered as a best friend, a lifesaver, and an incredible dog that made a significant impact on the world. Rest in peace, Kaya. 💔

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