PASADENA ( — Military dogs that have served alongside soldiers on the battlefield are getting a special tribute at the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day.

The four-legged heroes will be honored through a festive, floral float titled “Canines with Courage”, which showcases the exact replica of the United States Military Working Dog Teams National Monument in Texas.

“It’s just amazing to see that they’re actually going to have a monument to recognize their service and everything they’ve done and all the lives that they’ve saved,” said Gunnery Sgt. Chris Willingham of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Lucca, a German Shepherd mix, will be one of the stars of the float, sponsored by Natural Balance Pet Foods.

“She served in the Marine Corps for six years, which included two deployments to Iraq and one deployment to Afghanistan. She’s trained to search all fleets looking for explosives. She led over 400 patrols, which resulted in zero injuries,” said Willingham.

However, the now-retired specialized search dog—trained to work off a leash to sniff out explosives—lost a leg during one of her missions after setting off an improvised explosive device.

Lucca was rescued, taken to rehab at Camp Pendleton, and eventually adopted by Willingham.

He said Lucca still has her spunky spirit and brave character despite her life-altering injury.

“She’s a very special dog. She’s saved a lot of lives,” said Willingham.


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