Understanding the “special” in special needs pets

Jeffrey (active duty Navy) and Gucci

Special needs pets are among the most challenging for shelters and rescue groups to adopt out,  and many never find a loving home. Yet your perfect companion might just have her own pair of wheels to get around, or rely on visual commands instead of verbal ones.Three legs, one eye and limitless loveIn a survey conducted by Petfinder, it was found that these dogs and cats often wait four times longer than average to be adopted – a long time spent without a family, security and unconditional love, and all due to reasons beyond the animal’s control. These dogs and cats are overlooked because of … [Read more...]

Dark memories haunt, and bind, Vietnam veteran and adopted dog

Jerome and Scruffy

As an Army veteran of the Vietnam War who had worked tirelessly his entire life, Jerome found himself struggling to stay busy during retirement. Work was his only antidote for keeping the dark memories of war at bay and, with his wife Suzanne still working, he became accustomed to spending most of his days alone with her dog Lexi. Yet Jerome wanted to a companion of his own - a loyal friend he could adopt and call “my dog." Fixing helos in NamAfter studying auto mechanics and engine repair at Wolverine Trade School in Detroit, Jerome joined the Army in 1966 at the age of 18. He then spent an … [Read more...]

A pen and a pup: Korean War Navy veteran cures the blues

Ross and Schatz

With the stroke of a pen and the love of one very special pup, an elderly Korean War veteran beat the blues that dogged him after the end of a three-decades long marriage.A self-described "writer, poet, librettist of truth and beauty," Ross served in the Navy during the Korean War and found a four-legged sweetheart to lift him from despair after he and his wife of 35 years divorced. Following nearly 14 years of military service, the former Naval officer worked across the East Coast and now calls Michigan home.All the while Ross harbored a burning desire to write and, upon his retirement, … [Read more...]

Post-9/11 Army veteran adds “awesome” shelter dog to his pack

Jason and Cocoa

Jason served in the shadows of 9/11, joining the Army and, after service, saving the life of an "awesome" little shelter dog named Cocoa. In the early days of August 2001, Jason made the life-altering decision to enlist into the United States Army. He worked in Washington, DC while awaiting his entry date and, on September 11, 2001, could see and smell smoke that he later learned was the Pentagon catastrophe only two miles away. As the national tragedy wore on, Jason found out that some of his family had escaped the World Trade Center destruction.Shaken to his core by these tragic events, … [Read more...]

WWII hero won over by special needs cat

Roy and Hank

A WWII hero coping with loneliness after the death of his wife of 64 years was chosen, and ultimately won over, by a very special, special needs cat.No guts, no gloryIt was 1944 and Roy headed off to school like he did every day. Little did he know this would be no ordinary day, one that would shape the rest of his life. As the teen settled into class, men in military uniforms entered the room and asked if anyone wanted to enlist in the Army before being required to register for the draft upon turning eighteen. “I wasn’t too smart in school. I was having a tough time so I said yes. Two days … [Read more...]

Send in the Marines: Pets for Patriots celebrates 600th honorable adoption

Andrew Briana and Belle adoption

Someone decided to send in the Marines - and the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard - to make possible our 600th honorable adoption of a United States military veteran and a last-chance shelter pet.Although we serve men and women from all United States armed forces and at any stage of their careers, it was an active duty Marine who had the distinction of becoming the 600th pairing of pet and person since Pets for Patriots launched in 2010. The few, the proudAndrew knew early in life that he was destined to lead."I realized after high school and trying a few different career fields that what … [Read more...]

Shelter dog helps disabled Army veteran learn to trust again

Venice and Rico

Rico barely tips the scale at eight pounds, but this once homeless shelter dog is worth his weight in gold for helping a disabled Army veteran regain her trust in others.Army strong and proud to serveVenice served 10 years in the United States Army as a 92Y Supply Sergeant, during which time she was stationed at various posts stateside including Ft. Lewis, Ft. Hood, Ft. Polk and Ft. Benning - in addition to serving overseas in Germany, Bosnia and in Operation Desert Storm. The Army veteran trained troops in Kosovo, as well.Having already taken on a role with vigorous demands, Venice reflected … [Read more...]

Navy sailor throws lifeline to ‘scaredy cat’

Autumn and Fidget

Autumn is a young Navy sailor with an adventurous spirit who never hesitated when given the opportunity to adopt Fidget - a shy, yet loving six year-old 'scaredy cat.'Opposites do attractUpon returning from Kuwait, her first overseas deployment, Autumn received orders to station in Norfolk, Virginia. With the understanding that she would be anchored in one place for the foreseeable future came the desire for the type of friendship that only a pet could offer.“I wanted a furry companion,” Autumn says. “My apartment is too small for a dog, so I went with a cat.” The Navy Reservist started her … [Read more...]

Vietnam veteran helps people and pets find their way

John and Tasha

John is a Vietnam veteran who wonders if he has a story to tell.“I’m one of the lucky ones who came out of combat unscathed, both physically and mentally," he says. “I thank G-d every day for that.”Nevertheless, John does have a tale. He helps people and pets find their way, first as a radar installation supervisor in Vietnam and then as a teacher, author, career development consultant and pet parent. Companion pets have always found their way into his life.Showing the way in wartimeJohn feels deeply for veterans who haven’t been able to fully reconnect with society and who suffer from … [Read more...]

Elderly Army veteran beats the blues with shelter dog

Gerald and Tiger

An Army combat veteran of the Korean War and self-described “last man standing” fought back loneliness with a shelter dog named Tiger. Gerald has distinct memories of Korea, where he served with the 82nd Anti Aircraft Artillery (82nd AAA) based out of the 38th parallel. A lot of life transpired between his time in the Army and where he is today – 81, divorced and largely alone – but life changed radically and for the better when he adopted a companion pet.  “He made up for company I have now compared to being all alone. I’ve got him and he’s got me,” he says. “He’s not human and sometimes … [Read more...]