Abandoned dog now a Navy veteran’s football watching friend

Abandoned dog now a Navy veteran's football watching friend

Eric has spent his life in the company of dogs. So when an abandoned dog showed up at his local shelter he felt compelled to give the wayward hound a loving and forever home.

Above and beyond

For more than a decade Eric devoted his life to country by serving in the Navy. Over the course of his military career he was assigned to the USS Barney DDG-6 guided missile destroyer, USS Frank Cable AS-40 submarine tender, USS Doyle FFG-39 guided missile frigate, and USS Haleakala AE-25 Nitro-class ammunition ship.

However, it was while Eric was stationed at Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville that he recalls one of the most memorable experiences of his service.

“While stationed at NAS Jacksonville I rescued a kid and his overturned sailboat during a rainstorm,” he shares. “Two weeks later I was called to the air wing commander’s office to receive a commendation letter for acting above and beyond duty.”

Saving a life is never ordinary. However, this particular incident had some military star power associated with it.

“It turns out the kid was the grandson of a retired captain that lives on the river.”

Life with dogs

Eric is long since separated from service, and many of the ships he served aboard have since been decommissioned. He is retired from his civilian career as an electrical systems designer and now calls Atlanta, Georgia his home.

But it was a crushing loss that shattered Eric’s tranquil life, and compelled the Navy veteran to welcome an abandoned dog into his heart and home.

“I’ve always had a dog since the age of four,” he shares, “even during shore duty in Jacksonville, Florida.”

In 2023 Eric bid farewell to a previous dog who passed away after 16 years. The loss was crushing and palpable. So the Navy veteran visited his local animal shelter to start the process of finding a new best friend.Abandoned dog now a Navy veteran's football watching friend

“[The] local shelter promoted adoption,” he says. “After researching adoption, I found [out] Pets for Patriots was free.”

Eric refers to Lifeline at Dekalb County Animal Services. It is one of a trio of Atlanta-area Lifeline shelters that offer fee-waived adoptions to veterans in our program.

As a retiree, Eric appreciates the many benefits we offer that make pet guardianship more affordable.

It was just a matter of days after applying to and being approved into our program that Eric met his match. Braigon had been abandoned. He was estimated to be about three years old at the time.

The wayward dog has all the markings of a hound mix. Sadly, it is not uncommon for callous individuals to use these dogs for hunting and discard them when they are no longer needed.

No one knows if that was Braigon’s fate, but in the early days of November his hard luck story was about to start a new and more hopeful chapter.

Football and squirrels, please

Eric quickly renamed his new four-legged friend, as many adopters do. Braigon would now be known as Burt.

The once abandoned dog wasted no time refilling the void left by the passing of Eric’s previous pup. He adapted quickly to his new home life and even enjoys the company of other animals.Abandoned dog now a Navy veteran's football watching friend

And once again, Eric is awash in the joy of a pet’s companionship.

Ask people what they love most about their pets and you will get a wide range of answers. However, most cherish the simple things, the tender moments, the purity of an animal’s spirit.

For Eric, it is a shared love of sport that endears Burt to him most, as well as the dog’s moments of abandon in their yard.

“Burt enjoys sitting on the couch next to me while watching football,” he says. “Any other time he wants to go outside to chase the squirrels.”

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