Companion dog brings new life to disabled Army veteran and three-time cancer survivor

Leonard and Noodles

A disabled Army veteran who fought back cancer and an adopted companion dog are living proof that caring for and loving one another can be the best medicine. On June 6, 1966, Leonard began his military career with the Army. For the next few years he would be stationed in Germany, where he belonged to a special operations group. Yet that was not the service Leonard originally envisioned for himself.  “I volunteered twice to go to Vietnam,” he says. Twice the Army declined Leonard's requests; he was far too valuable as a trainer. He taught other soldiers hand-to-hand combat, demolitions and … [Read more...]

Army veteran finds renewed purpose with “less adoptable” shelter dog

Ryan and Diesel

Following a divorce and separation from his military friends, an Army veteran found renewed purpose and companionship in the company of a shelter dog many would consider less adoptable because of his breed and size.  Ryan joined the military right out of high school. His first Military Occupation Specialty, or MOS, was as a 13B cannon crew member, which satisfied his desire to have a combat arms job yet not be infantry. He was soon stationed in Schweinfurt, Germany, but his longer term goal was to finish his military career in Colorado Springs. Some of his most memorable military experiences, … [Read more...]

PTSD veteran and dog with separation anxiety heal together

George Bobby and Patricia

Coping with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) since the Vietnam War and more recently with the death of a beloved pet, an Army veteran finds mutual healing with a shelter dog beset by separation anxiety. Army strong for nearly 20 years George decided to enlist in the Army when the draft started for the Vietnam War. He was a combat engineer and demolition expert and, after serving three years in Germany, decided to reenlist. Shortly thereafter he began studying computers and completed four tours of duty in Korea as a computer operator. Sadly, George was no stranger to the horrors of … [Read more...]

Three-strike dog makes home run with retired Navy veteran

Gail and Meli

Meli was a shelter dog with three strikes against her who scored a definite home run when she was adopted by a retired Navy veteran in Virginia.  For her entire life Gail always had pets. Growing up in Fayetteville, New York it was "at least two dogs at all times," yet it took four years from the death of her last dog in 2010 for the retired Navy veteran to feel ready to welcome another dog to her family. Deployments and dogs and cats, oh my! During her long career in the Navy, Gail "saw the world." In addition to being stationed across the United States, including Hawaii, she deployed to … [Read more...]

In like a lamb: tale of “the perfect dog”

Michael daughter and Emma

The dictionary defines 'lamb' as one who is gentle and innocent, words that describe the 'perfect dog' honorably adopted by Michael, a career Air Force veteran, as a promise to his young daughter. She wanted to prove that she could be responsible to care for a pet of her own, and even spent her allowance to help pay for the dog's adoption fee. Our thanks to Michael for sharing their story.  Emma, the perfect dog I stood there, holding Emma while I signed the paperwork and reflected on her past five months with us. Back in May, a nine-pound mini Dachshund at the shelter climbed in my … [Read more...]

Instincts bond Purple Heart Vietnam veteran and once-abused dog

Tim and Melanie

Trying to adjust to a civilian lifestyle became a painful challenge for Timothy, a Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient whose only refuge lay with the many dogs and cats that he brought into his life after the war. Even now, he describes those animals as “the only friends I had.” Tragically, this refuge was taken away from Timothy when his wife at the time got rid of his pets against his will.  Years later, Timothy has found solace and comfort again in Melanie, an intensely caring and loyal Great Pyrenees adopted through Pets for Patriots’ partnership with the Humane Society of West … [Read more...]

Veteran with depression takes chance on shelter dog

Charles and Chance selfie

Charles is an Air Force veteran who suffered with a deep and prolonged depression until he took a chance - on a shelter dog named Chance - and regained a sense of purpose in his life. Our thanks to Charles for sharing his tale, and to Big Dog Ranch Rescue for helping us make this story possible. Chance was shipped to Big Dog Ranch Rescue in Wellington, Florida from a high kill shelter in Georgia. He had only been there a few days when we made our trip to meet some potential dogs available for adoption. We knew right away he was the one.  I served in the United States Air Force for six years … [Read more...]

A friendly ghost helps an Army officer manage his PTSD

Pedro and Ghost

It took a four-legged "ghost" with an ever-wagging tail to help an Army officer cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In the process, the shelter dog - coping with stresses of his own - found a new life as a much loved and constant companion. Born to serve Pedro knew from a very young age that he wanted to join the military; watching movies and seeing soldiers on the street made a lasting impression on him. “Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be a soldier,” he recalls. “I wanted to put that uniform on.”  Eventually when Pedro came of age he learned more about serving in the … [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...]

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