John is a retired Navy veteran who was coping with the “unbearable” loss of his senior dog, Chad, until he and his wife saved a sweet, spirited shelter dog named Hunter. Thanks to our partnership with the Virginia Beach SPCA for making their story possible, as told by John.
A true blue military man
Though I was fully retired from the Navy in 1995, I continued to work in the same occupational field as when on duty. Even today I work as a civilian employee for the United States Army at Fort Eustis, Newport News Virginia.
I was a Navy Corpsman. I spent duty and training in Navy clinics and hospitals, from the East Coast to the West Coast. I sadly retired after twenty long years at a tiny base on an island in Washington State called Whidbey NAS (Naval Air Station).
Six months before Desert Storm, an earthquake shattered normal life and damaged buildings on base. Six months after Desert Shield, a volcano erupted sixty kilometers from our base, nearly making a wasteland of the same base. The damage forced the US Air Force to give back the US Clark Airbase and the US Navy to pull all forces out of Subic Bay and Cubi Point. Shoveling sand from rooftops for ninety days was not something any of us were accustomed to do in the medical field, but then we didn’t have to live in tents and eat MREs under enemy fire either.
Missing the “I love you eyes” of a departed family dog
The kids are grown and out of the house, but my wife and I are still active though not athletic as when we were younger. We aged just like our first family dog.
In the early fall of 2013, our family pet (an SPCA dog) of 16 years died and it took a hard toll on our family emotionally. Coming home to a silent house where no patter of feet or a dog rubbing our legs was sickening. Our loss was nearly unbearable.
Chad was badly missed, even if he rode in a basket behind my bike because age would not allow whim to run alongside. My wife and I were sad, and though we had each other we missed those “I love you eyes” our first dog gave us even when he had misbehaved. We needed something.
I must admit I did not want to pay for another dog, but I knew it would help my wife who missed Chad the most and who talked me into it. The Virginia Beach SPCA told us since I was a veteran I could adopt, and Pets for Patriots had benefits. I was unable to argue.
Shelter dog gets second chance to be needed
When Hunter came home with us the first day he was excited. He had twenty times more energy than we were used to from our older dog. Hunter was only twelve months old.
Chad and Hunter are different in many ways, but similar in others. Hunter’s first day he wanted to jump on the sofa and snuggle his seventy pounds against my lap. We would never have let Chad do that, but Hunter gave us that look with his eyes and we felt grateful he liked us.
Hunter is definitely a help with my physical activity because I feel guilty if he doesn’t get to go for lengthy walks. He has made sure I stay in shape even after a long day at work. Hunter doesn’t like my sitting and typing on the computer. He either nibbles my leg or arm when I try and type. Hunter doesn’t mind watching Discovery or History Channel or the Pet Channel, but he does so laying with his head in my lap or on my feet.
Hunter doesn’t care if it is raining or sunny; he wants to go outside on the leash. He actually communicates with me, telling me he knows I have had a good or bad day, but I am home with him and let’s have fun!
An organization dedicated to veterans and shelter pets
I highly recommend other veterans adopt through Pets for Patriots.
Most service members have a special desire to be needed, and a pet can provide that. They will listen to your endless compliments and complaints, and never tell anyone gossip. A pet will look into your eyes and know when you have had a trying day. They will show you their love because they know you as the link who helped take them away from a difficult life. Think about it, they need you more than you need them. They can’t open the door for food or to go outside. They like schedules, up with light and sleep with night, aren’t you used to that?
Like you, they are seeking a chance to be needed. They will learn to communicate with you, in that silent language called eye contact.
Make sure you know what a pet needs though. Young pets need rigidity and regularity discipline, and then understanding if they mess up. Older pets need understanding and tolerance, because they only know what they’ve been taught. It’s your job to learn their habits and help them learn your habits.
Adopt, and you will see – Pets for Patriots is a VERY beneficial program.