Harry is an adorable, curly haired shelter dog whose antics won the heart of a retired Navy veteran even as he tested her patience.
Lifelong animal lover and Navy veteran
Anna served more than 20 years in the Navy and, once retired, decided it was time to expand her family. A native of San Diego, some of her fondest memories are of her visits to nearby San Diego Zoo, but her community offers many opportunities for pet involvement.
“My favorites,” she says with her trademark smile, “are walk-run events with oodles of adorable dogs on leashes, happily meandering along as their owners huff and puff to the finish line.”
Towards the end of her Navy career, Anna had an opportunity to work directly with the military working dogs who were stationed on base.
“At my last duty station I worked directly with police dogs and their handlers,” she says, adding that she was occasionally permitted to “tag along” on military police dog training sessions, where she witnessed an interesting duality in the dogs’ lives.
“It was amazing to see a dog trained to attack on command then enjoy playtime, fetching tennis balls,” she recalls.
“Love at first read” becomes love at first sight
In time, Anna realized that both she and her service dog, Linus, would benefit from the companionship of a new pet friend.
She learned about Pets for Patriots and the many benefits available to qualifying veterans that, together, would help make the addition of a new four-legged family member more affordable.
“It was love at first read,” says the Navy veteran. Shortly after being approved by Pets for Patriots, Anna met Harry.
Harry was a two year-old, underweight Maltese/Poodle mix with a chronic skin condition and flea allergy when Anna found him at the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services, a Pets for Patriots adoption partner with three locations throughout the San Diego area. With his black eyes and nose set against a mane of perfectly white, curly fur, what started as “love at first read” quickly became love at first sight.
Surrendered by his first family, Harry once again had a home of his own.
There’s something about Harry
Adjusting to life with Harry has taken a little bit of work. For one thing, Anna find that she no longer needs an alarm clock.
“I now have a living ‘alarm animal,’” jokes the Navy veteran. “Harry has decided to be in charge of waking us up every morning, sometimes at 4:30 am, by putting his nose in my ear and jumping directly on top of my head and my face.”
Anna stops and smiles, adding, “It works every time.”
Although Anna takes Harry’s early morning antics in stride, she admits that she had thought about returning him to the shelter on a few occasions. When he was adopted he needed a lot of training, but seemed to sense when his new mom was reaching her “maximum frustration level” with him.
“When he has really messed up and I begin to think about re-gifting him back to the shelter,” says Anna, “he’ll turn around and amaze me by doing something to remind me of how exquisite a G-dly creation he is.”
Not that long ago, Harry started barking loudly in the middle of the night and running around the house looking out the windows. Despite pleas from Anna to quiet down and go back to sleep, Harry persisted. Finally, Anna got out of bed to find out why her rambunctious little dog was causing such a ruckus.
“I saw two fire trucks and an ambulance with lights still going,” she recalls. “Turns out my neighbor was having a medical emergency, and I would not have known but for Harry’s vigilance.”
Anna knows that one of the reasons pets make such wonderful companions is that they accept their humans, completely and without judgment. The Navy veteran has learned to do the same with her beloved Harry, and he has even started to relax a little.
To other veterans who might be thinking about adopting a pet through Pets for Patriots, the Navy veteran is clear:
“Prepare to be amazed.”
What are your pet’s most endearing qualities?