Veterans and service members who honorably adopt shelter pets through our program often speak about the empathy they have for their last-chance dog or cat. Many feel isolated, lonely and unwanted, and tell us how they can relate to the animals they ultimately save.
Ben and Siren formed a strong bond through the abandonment they each experienced in their lives.
Ben is a Staff Seargent in the Air Force. Stationed at Langley Air Force Base (AFB) for six years, he works the stealth coatings for the F-22. Like many military personnel, Ben serves where the military needs him; throughout his career he’s served temporary duty at Tyndall AFB, Nellis AFB, Hickam AFB, Ft. Hood, Wake Island and Kadena AFB. He cherishes going home each night to his adopted dog, Siren.
“I work long hours and in a stressful environment, and it’s great to come home to Siren after a hard day of work.”
But Ben didn’t always have a loving companion greeting him at the door. When asked why he chose to adopt through Pets for Patriots, his answer is heartbreaking.
“I chose to adopt Siren through the program because I knew that she and I could relate our lives to each other,” he says.
“I got Siren shortly after my wife left me. After I heard that Siren was also abandoned and stuck in the pound for half of her life, I knew that we would be a great match.”
It’s well established that companion pets provide valuable mental and physical health benefits to their guardians: fewer feelings of isolation or depression, improved sense of well-being, lower blood pressure and cholesterol among just a few. Less easily quantified is the profound bond between people and pets who intuitively feel the other’s pain. Some may question whether animals have the capacity for empathy; we’ll leave that for others to argue. What we do know is that they love without judgment or condition.
“Siren has dramatically changed my life,” he says. “When I get off of work and come home to Siren, she is just as excited to play with me as I am with her. The love and gratitude that she shows me proves that she is happy in her new home.”
At Pets for Patriots, we’re honored to have played our part in connecting Ben and Siren, two souls who needed – and continue to need – one another. But Ben says it best:
“I feel that I’m in a much better place in my life now that Siren is in it.”
What life challenge has your pet helped you through?