Leo was a large rescue dog looking for love in a Virginia Beach shelter when a young Navy sailor gave them both a new lease on life.
Little is known about the large Beagle mix who, when adopted in early November of 2013, was already a healthy 44 pounds. The rescue dog’s personality and zest for life caught the attention of Sarah, who at the age of 23 had already served four-and-a-half years in the Navy. Originally from North Carolina and now stationed in Virginia, Sarah decided that her transition to shore duty was the perfect time to add a companion pet to her life.
Joining the Navy to see the world
“It was a great experience,” says Sarah. “I joined the military to be independent, see the world, and experience new things. I’ve loved almost every bit of it!”
Among the Navy sailor’s most memorable experiences was a swim call in the Mediterranean sea, describing it as “one of the coolest things.”
“The water was crystal clear, salty, and incredibly blue,” Sarah recalls. “It was nothing like visiting the ocean here in the United States.”
Currently stationed at Joint Expeditionary Base (JEB) Little Creek – the major operating base for the Navy’s Atlantic Fleet Amphibious Forces – Sarah enjoys her new routine and how different it is from life at sea.
“It’s a nice change of pace from ship life.”
Navy sailor finds a first mate
Finally on dry land for a while, Sarah finally had the opportunity to do something else she always wanted to do: adopt a pet.
“I’ve always loved animals, with dogs being my favorite!” she exclaims. “We always had a bunch of animals running around while growing up, and I love their energy and endless love.”
Now on shore command, with a steady home life and a loving Navy veteran boyfriend, Sarah decided this was the perfect time to welcome a pet into their lives.
During a visit to the Virginia Beach SPCA, Sarah found about their partnership with Pets for Patriots and the various benefits of adopting through the nationally operating program. As a member shelter, the Virginia Beach SPCA additionally extends a 10% adoption fee discount and access to their low-cost veterinary clinic for all approved Pets for Patriots veterans who adopt a program eligible pet.
Collectively, the benefits would make adopting a dog more affordable over the life of the pet, not just at the time of adoption. The Navy sailor was sold.
“It sounded like a good opportunity and definitely was!”
Leo the landlubbing lover
Since saving Leo, the adorable hound has brought a certain constancy to Sarah’s life. This is not surprising, since pets provide structure and purpose to one’s daily routine – something that veterans understand well. The Navy sailor thinks that other veterans considering pet adoption should try to adopt through Pets for Patriots.
“Do it!!” she exclaims. “It’s a great opportunity to find your new best friend!”
While the young sailor welcomes the routine associated with having a dog in the family, she appreciates equally the energy and newness that Leo brings to her life. It is as though the big dog is thanking her each day for giving him a second chance.
“He’s always happy to see me and he’s always willing to play,” she says. “He loves to cuddle and can always make me smile with his crazy antics.”
Like many hounds – including Beagles – Leo is a particularly vocal dog. In fact, that’s one of the things that Sarah loves about him most.
“I love that he makes crazy noises at the most random times,” she says. “He’s always got a new one, especially when he gets really excited.”
And while the once homeless hound can entertain his Navy sailor seemingly without end, Sarah loves the more intangible qualities that Leo brings to her world.
“He’s loyal and protective,” says the Navy veteran, “but also a huge sweetheart.”
What do you appreciate most about your pet?