Hero K-9 military dog honored with statue being sculpted by Salt Lake City artist

SALT LAKE City — There is some thing to be reported about an artist who obsesses more than every single small depth.

Lena Toritch has sculpted several pet dogs in her career inside her Salt Lake Town studio, but Layka is about as particular as any she has completed before.

“This statue has to be carried out properly,” Toritch explained. “Layka is a Ranger pet. She is a hero dog. She has saved many life.”

Layka was a military services K-9 in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army Rangers. Throughout a mission in 2013, she went into a household where a person was capturing at U.S. soldiers. Layka took that person down, but not before she was shot four times. Her injuries value Layka her front leg.

“The wound was so poor they had to reduce it off,” Toritch explained.

Layka survived and was awarded the Purple Coronary heart. She also grew to become the to start with canine due to the fact World War II to be awarded the Medal of Heroism.

Layka is also credited with currently being the inspiration guiding the 2022 movie “Dog” starring Channing Tatum. It is why Toritch feels the accountability of obtaining every single characteristic just suitable.

“This specific statue will be dependent on the iconic image of the National Geographic challenge,” Toritch reported. “Everybody understands Nationwide Geographic. Even for people people today who in no way saw the military puppy, they know this photo.”

Layka was on the deal with of Nationwide Geographic for a 2014 story about Hero Canines. That image, and various others, is what Toritch is likely off to mould the clay into form and then carve great strains.

It also will help Toritch to converse to the statue.

“Well, that’s my solution. And they chat back again,” she explained with a laugh.

The statue will eventually sit at the 1st Ranger Battalion Heritage Centre at Hunter Military Air Discipline in Savannah, Georgia.

The strategy powering the project arrived from Teri Whitney, who lives in Texas, and is supporting the Sua Sponte Basis raise dollars for Ranger initiatives.

Whitney has labored with the U.S. Military Ranger neighborhood for the earlier 10 decades and assisted to increase about a quarter-million bucks for numerous Ranger strategies. When she read about Layka’s tale, she begun increasing funds for her statue.

“I have numerous loved ones and mates in the navy, and this is my way to give again,” Whitney mentioned.

When it was time to decide on an artist for Layka’s statue, Whitney realized of Toritch’s work from a different war canine they labored on alongside one another.

“Her do the job is seriously amazing,” Whitney said. “From the images I have found, she has completed a good task honoring Layka.”

Toritch has been working on the statue considering the fact that September.

She reported she is operating more quickly than she commonly does on a piece for the reason that Layka, who was adopted by her Ranger handler, is 11 yrs old now and could be at the unveiling if all the things works out.

“I want to meet up with her in man or woman. She is my inspiration,” Toritch mentioned.

The statue will support convey to Layka’s story for generations.

“That’s the reward,” Toritch explained. “Many yrs from now, specifically young children will come and start off touching and hunting at reading the title.”