The much-maligned pit bull is pure myth for one veteran whose broken heart was made whole after the death of his beloved pet dog.
Dale is a Vietnam veteran who enlisted in the US Army and served as a combat engineer in Germany from 1969 to 1972. Other than the time he spent in the Army, Dale had never lived without the faithful companionship of a dog. In June 2012, Dale and his wife, Sue, had to put to sleep their beloved 13-year old Doberman, Destiny, who had succumbed to old age.
Dale was devastated by this loss.
A house without a dog is not a home
After Destiny passed away, Dale’s wife “insisted on being free from the responsibility of pet ownership for a few years, so that we could do a little traveling and not be tied down,” recalls Dale. Shortly after losing Destiny, he and Sue enjoyed a trip to the Black Hills in South Dakota. When they returned, however, Dale’s home felt sadly empty to him.
“I found myself always expecting to be greeted by a dog whenever I entered my house, only to remember each time that we no longer had any dogs.”
For two months, the Army veteran felt melancholy living in a dog-less home.
“I found myself to be very dog lonely,” describes Dale.
Fortunately, Dale’s wife noticed his sadness and “evidently took pity on me,” he says.
During an internet search, Sue discovered the Huron Valley Humane Society (HVHS), a nearby Pets for Patriots adoption and veterinary partner. Listed on HVHS’ website was a then six year-old pit bull named Maximus; his prior family surrendered him because they had fallen on hard times and could not afford medical treatment for his dermatitis.
A man and his dog
Sue thought Maximus might make a good companion for her husband and suggested they visit the dog at the shelter. When the Vietnam veteran arrived, he found that Maximus “indeed was a terrific dog that had been well treated” by his prior owners. Dale honorably adopted Maximus and took him home the same day.
Since his adoption, “Maximus has brought me more joy than I can express,” says Dale. At first, Maximus suffered from separation anxiety whenever he was left alone, “but he soon realized that he had a permanent home and is quite happy.”
Even though Maximus is now seven years old, the veteran describes him as “still playful like a puppy. He has the run of the house and is very affectionate.”
Dale believes his life has been enriched by the companionship of this dog who needed Dale as much as the Vietnam veteran needed him.
“I’m lucky to have gotten him. I was pretty despondent over the loss of our last dog until he came along and filled the void.”
Having learned about Pets for Patriots from a volunteer at HVHS, Dale is grateful for the discounted adoption and veterinary services fees and ongoing support it offers. The shelter extends a generous 50% adoption fee discount to any Pets for Patriots member, like Dale, who adopts a program eligible pet, as well as an ongoing 10% discount at its veterinary clinic.
“After I have been out of the Army for 40 years, it has suddenly become popular to thank veterans for their service and give discounts at movie theaters, restaurants, and so on. I get a good feeling from this turn of events,” remarks Dale.
To other veterans or service members considering adopting a pet through Pets for Patriots, Dale advises, “If you are able to commit to giving a pet a home for the rest of its life, by all means, do so!!”
Has there ever been a time when you’ve felt pet-lonely?