Texas service dog with 250+ Southwest flights honored as she takes her final trip home

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Kaya, a Texas service dog with years of service benefitting veterans with mental health issues, and who served as the inspiration for the PAWS Act, was honored this past week as a special guest on the Dallas based Southwest Airlines.

The PAWS Act created and funded a program to provide canine training for veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.

According to the airlines, on February 2, the German shepherd traveled with her handler, Cole Lyle on a Love Field-bound plane for her final flight home. The dog had been a passenger on Southwest with Cole, a Marine Corps veteran, more than 250 times.

Tragically, Kaya, 8, had been recently diagnosed with an untreatable cancer, and the airline pilot honored the dog with a heartfelt announcement:

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.

Southwest pilot Instagram

After the pilot’s announcement, the passengers on the plane clapped in honor of Kaya – who picked up her head from her blanket. At arrival in Dallas, Cole carried Kaya off the plane, and a cart padded with blankets, helped her leave the airport.

Just two days later, Kaya died:

My heart is broken and I’m numb without. But it’s gladdened because you’re no longer in pain. Thank you for epitomizing ‘Semper Fidelis'”

Twitter Cole T, Lyle

And knowing how we all are crying now, knowing that Kaya is no longer with us, this writer is hoping that knowing Kaya’s last few days were filled with love from friends and family saying their goodbyes will ease a bit of the heartache. In addition, Cole took Kaya to revisit all the places at College Station where they used to go together. They stayed in a suite overlooking Kyle Field and ate bacon and eggs together the next morning.

The two spent hours together holding each other and when it was time, the Small Animal Teaching Hospital quietly helped Kaya cross over to the Rainbow Bridge.

Rest in peace beautiful Kaya. You left us too soon, but what an inspiration you were in such a short time.

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