Air Force veteran saves pet as he grieves loss of another

An Air Force veteran saves a pet in need to cope with the loss of another: a dog he and his wife loved for 16 years. In so doing, he found renewed life with a second-chance dog named Ace.

The ace up Lee’s sleeve

In 1982, Lee joined the Air Force as a surgical assistant with the hopes of using his military training for an eventual civilian career. After five years of service during which time he earned the rank of Sergeant, Lee joined the Air Force reserves as an aeromedical specialist. During these years he completed his bachelors degree and received a commission as a Medical Service Corps officer in the Ohio Army National Guard, from which he retired in 2004.

Lee served in many capacities, including platoon leader and company executive officer, until finally serving as the Operations and Training Officer for the State Medical Detachment and retiring as a Major.

Lee and his wife now live in his Ohio hometown, and he has nothing but fond memories of his years in the military.

“There are so many memories. I loved the military. It was good to me and my family.”

Of love, marriage and dogs

Soon after they were married, Lee and his wife adopted two Chow puppies, a boy and a girl, the latter who lived til she was 16 and had to be euthanized humanely due to her ailing health. 

“We just loved them. It was very hard for us, to have our old girl put down, but we knew it was time.”

Without any dogs and their two grown children out of the house, their home felt empty. Lee knew that he and his wife didn’t have what was needed to raise a puppy again and decided to save a hard-to-adopt pet. 

“We thought that it was time for us to give back a little by adopting a dog from a rescue organization and giving him, or her, a second chance.”

Saving a pet in need

The Air Force veteran and his wife visited Paws and Prayers, a pet rescue organization and Pets for Patriots adoption partner, where they met an energetic mutt named Ace and his foster mother, Lisa.

“I have a great admiration for the work that the foster families are doing for all the abandoned dogs,” says Lee.

Ace decided to honorably adopt Lee and his wife, but not until after he took a good look at them to make sure they were a perfect fit. Knowing that Lee was a veteran, Lisa told him about Pets For Patriots and the benefits for veterans who adopt eligible pets.

“It has been a win-win for us. We were going to adopt a dog and Pets for Patriots really made it much easier and definitely more affordable,” says Lee.

Ace flies high with his Air Force family

“Ace is quirky!” exclaims Lee. “Every couple of days he has this wild man episode where he has to just run like crazy. He starts by chasing his tail and giving us this funny look. We let him out in the back yard and he just runs around the trees and jumps off the deck. When he’s done he just plops on his belly.”

More than his antics, it’s Ace’s loving nature that Lee appreciates most.

“He loves everyone he comes in contact with, people and dogs. And he’s very gentle with kids.”

When asked what he would tell other veterans considering pet adoption, Lee adds, “Don’t hesitate.”

Ace is now one very happy dog and part of a loving Air Force family. He gets three-to-five mile walks every day, great exercise for Lee and his wife as well.

Lee adopted an adult dog from a rescue organization with the intent of giving him a second chance, to give back a little. But Ace has given to Lee as much love as he has received, maybe more. 

How have you coped with the loss of a beloved family pet?


  1. a tissue teary story, may you be blessed to continue your wonderful work. words can not truely convey what a pet does for us.


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