It's been said time and time again and it never stops being true—we simply don't deserve the goodness dogs give us.
And one dog in particular has people on the internet welling up with genuine tears after her swan song as a service dog.
Kaya—a German Shepherd trained to help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD—recently reached the end of her distinguished career because she was diagnosed with incurable cancer.
This past Christmas, her handler Cole Lyle noticed a lump on Kaya's elbow which lead to the discovery cancer had metastasized throughout her body. Doctors shared the heartbreaking news that even with treatment, Kaya had only a few very painful months to live.
"Especially at the end, it just became apparent that she was in a lot of pain—she couldn’t walk."
“So I ultimately had to make that horrible decision."
So Lyle—a Marine Corps Veteran—flew Kaya home on a Southwest Airlines flight to live out her final days and say goodbye to the people who loved her when she attended Texas A&M with Lyle.
Southwest Airlines employees met Lyle and Kaya at Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia on February 2, 2023 and transported Kaya to the plane in a blanket-lined cart.
The pilot of the flight decided to honor Kaya with a speech given over the plane's intercom. The video of the moment left people all over the internet deeply emotional.
See the video below.
Over the intercom, the pilot told passengers Kaya worked with Lyle as a service dog since 2014.
She was the inspiration for the Paws Act, federal legislation that helps pay to place service dogs with veterans with PTSD. Prior to the Paws Act signing in 2021, the Veterans Administration wouldn't pay for anything towards PTSD service dogs.
Kaya's training and initial veterinary care cost Lyle—with help from his family—$10,000.
Over the course of joining Lyle to lobby Congress for the legislation and help veterans over the years, the pilot reported Kaya flew on Southwest Airlines more than 250 times.
He then broke the sad news to the passengers, telling them:
“Sadly, Kaya was recently diagnosed with an untreatable cancer so we have the solemn honor of taking her on what will be her last flight as she goes home to rest where she was born and first met Cole.”
The pilot thanked Kaya and Lyle on behalf of Southwest Airlines and the two veterans in the cockpit for their work on behalf of veterans.
In their Instagram caption, Southwest airlines said they were "honored to fly our loyal friend and hero [Kaya] home to rest after a lifetime of hard work."
The heartfelt tribute left many online profoundly moved.
An announcement also went out at the Dallas airport.
Southwest employees again met Kaya and Lyle at the plane and loaded her onto a blanket covered cart.
So when Lyle and Kaya arrived at the terminal, thousands of people crowded around to applaud and welcome her home to Texas.
At College Station, Texas A&M officials arranged for the pair to be driven around campus and to have a farewell event with people who knew her.
On Saturday February 4, Kaya enjoyed a final breakfast of pancakes, eggs, ham and bacon at her hotel. Then Lyle took Kaya to the university’s school of government where they had spent hours while he was enrolled there.
“[We] just let her lay down and be comfortable for her last few hours on earth before we took her and let her go.”
The Marine Corps Times reported Kaya passed on Saturday, February 4, 2023.