Healing at both ends of the leash for combat veteran and shelter dog

Vaughan Annie and Max

Companion pet adoption can offer much-needed healing, at both ends of the leash, for veterans coping with the invisible wounds of combat as well as for the pets they save. This is the story of a dog twice surrendered to a Colorado shelter who found his forever family, and a purpose: helping an Army combat veteran adjust to the challenges of coming home from war. High anxiety after return from combat After being together with his high school sweetheart for more than a decade, Vaughan married and, around the same time, joined the Army. In 2011, just a year into their marriage, he was deployed … [Read more...]

Long after WWII and Korea, Bronze Star veteran still saving lives

James and Mandy 1

For one Bronze Star veteran of both WWII and the Korean War, the lure to save homeless pets has meant a house always full of whiskers and wet noses. James, a retired Army veteran, served in both World World II and the Korean War. He worked his way up the ranks of the Army’s Officer Candidate School (OCS) and graduated from Fort Benning as a Second Lieutenant. He calls himself one of the “90-day wonders” – a term describing junior officers during World War II and, when numerous officers were moved quickly through OCS, often during other times of war. Although trained as a ball turret or … [Read more...]

Rescued dog fills void of Navy sailor’s deployment

Bethany Maysie and son

A rescued dog stands guard for one Navy family when their sailor dad, Carl, leaves on deployment. Thanks to our partnership with the Norfolk Animal Care & Adoption Center for making this honorable adoption possible, and to Carl's wife, Bethany, for sharing their story. About ten months ago we were honorably adopted by Maysie, an Australian shepherd.  My husband had just left on deployment at the time, but as soon as I sent him her picture at the shelter, we all knew she had to come home with us. She has since blossomed in the household and since his return in December, has completely … [Read more...]

Vietnam veteran gives blind dog the gift of sight: another dog

Lady Gaga Sam Kenneth and Roxy on couch

Most of us know about guide dogs for blind people, but one Vietnam veteran adopted a companion pet to give the gift of sight to his blind dog. Funny-looking dog with a serious purpose Kenneth is a Vietnam War combat veteran who feels that he was selfish when he adopted a shelter dog named Sam I Am, a Jack Russell terrier mix “with a Mohawk.” In truth, Kenneth was the very opposite of selfish: he rescued Sam to help his partially blind Golden Retriever-Akita mix, Roxy, navigate her life. When Roxy’s two other canine companions died, Kenneth knew she needed another helper and friend. Sam is … [Read more...]

Afghanistan veteran who loses dog while deployed gives another a second chance

Chad Stephanie and Lilly

A National Guardsman whose dog died while he was deployed to Afghanistan fills the void by giving another animal a second chance at life. Two years ago and prior his overseas deployment, Chad and his family adopted their beloved dog Major. A rescue dog, Major was “very challenging” due to his prior experiences, but he was also an “extremely loving and wonderful dog.” Chad’s family felt so blessed to have him in their lives. Major developed a serious health issue while Chad was deployed to Afghanistan. “Unfortunately, Major had to be put to sleep in order to be free from pain," he recalls. … [Read more...]

“Thank you for helping me get my husband back”

Charles Sam and Molly

This is a letter from the wife of a member patriot in reply to our first post-adoption follow up. Her husband, Charles, is an 80% disabled Army veteran. The letter is addressed to Ted, a Marine Corps veteran, Pets for Patriots adopter and our most excellent volunteer coordinator for veteran outreach.   +++   Dear Ted:   Thank you for your email and checking up on my husband and Jimmies, who is now called Molly. She never answered to Jimmies, but we took a few days and tried alot of names with her, and her best response was to Molly.   I would like to thank your organization for the … [Read more...]

Second chances for Purple Heart veteran and shelter cat

Katrina and Rumer 1

A Purple Heart veteran survives two Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks and pays it forward by saving an adult shelter cat named Rumer. Katrina was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, where she trained as an Army Motor Transport Operator (88M). Twice deployed - once to Iraq for a year and again to Afghanistan for 15 months - the Army veteran miraculously survived not one, but two IED attacks. Four-and-a-half years later, Katrina left the military with a Purple Heart. Survival and second chances Life after the military was challenging. Katrina enrolled in college and is receiving her … [Read more...]

Pint-sized Captain steers veteran through PTSD recovery

Larry and Captain poolside

Depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, were no match for one little dog who gave his adopted veteran a new leash on life – and a fresh start decades after the Vietnam war. Oh Captain, my Captain! Life has an interesting way of bringing joy into our lives when we least expect it. Some might call it serendipity, a type of happy accident, such as seeing a old dear friend you haven’t seen in years at the grocery store.  Take, for instance, the story of an Ohio man and a foster dog. While visiting his cousin, Larry – an Army veteran from the Vietnam War – was introduced to … [Read more...]

Cancer-stricken veteran finds ‘best bud’ in scrappy shelter dog

Johnny Charlotte Stanley 1

An Army veteran living with stage four cancer, Johnny needed something to help get his mind off the idea of living with disease. A scrappy little shelter dog the veteran and his wife, Charlotte, call their “Godsend,” turned out to be the right prescription. “That’s not my dog” When the couple first brought home Stanley, a mini-Schnauzer, they weren’t convinced that he was, in fact, a mini-Schnauzer as advertised at the shelter.  Stanley’s previous owner had passed away and the papers proving his pedigree status got lost. His grooming fell by the wayside, giving the three year-old shelter … [Read more...]

Rescued dog helps Army veteran combat PTSD

Hunter smiling

It took a rescued dog named Hunter to help one Army veteran cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and reclaim some normalcy in his life. Dan joined the Army just out of high school in 1986 and served until 2007. He’s proud of his military service and his ability to help those in need, like the time he helped build a school in a small Honduran village. Another high point he recalls with great excitement was providing security for the 2002 Winter Olympics, where he met many of the athletes. “I served two years in Afghanistan as a combat engineer and I’m very proud I had the chance to … [Read more...]