An adult dog reminds one Marine of his boyhood, and a family tradition is reborn with the help of Pets for Patriots.
“I always had a dog growing up,” says Wesley, a Marine Reservist living in upstate New York. “When I returned home from deployment and got married, I decided it was time to restart that tradition.” He and his wife, Paige, hope to have kids one day. Wesley believes it’s important for his children to have the same experience that he had growing up by having pets around the house.
Wesley served six years with the U.S. Marine Corps. Stationed in Syracuse, New York, he was deployed for seven months in 2009 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom (now New Dawn). One of the highlights of his career was the opportunity to lead his company on a training exercise in Washington State.
“The C.O. [Commanding Officer] didn’t know I was the vehicle commander at the time and just told me to take the lead. Thankfully, I managed to get us to the target area without getting lost.”
Now Wesley lives in Rochester with Paige and Sass, a four year-old black Pug/Beagle mix, and is pursuing a nursing degree at the College of Brockport State University of New York. He puts in long hours between his studies and his job at the school as a chemistry tutor, but now has another reason to go home – besides his new bride.
A child by any other name
“Sass is our reason to hurry home at night,” Wesley says. Since both he and Paige are college students and keep odd hours, their four-legged “child” is a great motivator to establish a routine and spend quality time together – as a family.
“She’s so ugly that she’s cute,” says Wesley, noting that Sass “rules the roost” in their household. “The only two things she cannot do are sleep in bed with us and eat people food. Otherwise, it’s pretty much her reign.”
Don’t say it, spell it
Ugly or not, Sass is one smart pooch.
“She loves the outdoors and her walks,” Wesley says. “Paige and I had to start spelling out the word ‘walk,’ otherwise, Sass is at the door waiting to have her harness put on.”
Lucky for their beloved rescue dog, the couple’s city apartment is in close proximity to a park – though who walks whom is still up for debate.
An organization with a sweet mission
Wesley found Sass at Lollypop Farm Humane Society of Greater Rochester, a Pets for Patriots’ adoption partner in upstate New York. The shelter offers the charity’s members a 50% adoption fee discount, which, in addition to other program benefits, helped Wesley and Paige bring Sass into their new family. Sass qualified for the program because she’s an adult pet, but her dark fur gave her an additional challenge in finding a forever home since many people are reluctant to adopt black pets.
The couple discovered Pets for Patriots by pure chance while Paige was surfing the internet one day – and Wesley couldn’t be happier that she did. The pure joy Sass brings to both their lives is daily proof of that.
“Pets for Patriots is an awesome program,” says Wesley.
“For us, it was a really great deal. Pets for Patriots is an especially awesome program if you’re a veteran on a budget. They helped us restart my boyhood tradition of having a pet to love.”
In what ways do you think adopting pets first helps a family prepare for having children?