Crystal and her husband, Alex, are active duty Army medics currently deployed overseas. While they are proud to serve our nation, they are equally excited to return home to the adopted dog who gives their lives new purpose.
Life and love as active duty Army medics
For Crystal, serving in the military is a family affair.
“My husband and I have both been in for about six years now serving at multiple duty stations. We are both medics in the Army,” she says. “I had enlisted to experience new destinations and serve my country like my grandfather had.”
Crystal has fully embraced Army life, even though it means extended periods away from home. The Army medic met her husband, Alex, during training.
While meeting Alex has been an obvious career highlight, Crystal cherishes another memory of her military service for entirely different reasons.
“The best experience that I would say is the opportunity to place flags on gravestones at the Arlington Cemetery for Memorial Day,” she shares. “It is an early day, but the chance to thank those who have served before us makes the whole day worth it.”
Four strikes, you’re in
Nearly two years prior to their current assignment the active duty Army medics adopted a hard-luck dog. At the time, Carrie was a then three year-old black Shepherd mix with behavioral issues.
The dog has since blossomed into a loving and beloved family member. But prior to her adoption Carrie had many strikes against her.
First, Carrie is a black dog. For various reasons, many dark-furred dogs and cats take longer to find a home. Carrie is a fairly large dog, too, and was no longer the puppy that adopters often prefer.
In addition, Carrie needed some work on her behavior before she could be a well-mannered member of a household.
“My husband and I had wanted to get a dog for quite some time after we got married. When a friend recommended Pets for Patriots to us we decided it was the right time to adopt a dog.”
The pair learned about Carrie through our partners, Animal Welfare League of Arlington. The Virginia shelter has worked with us since 2011 to place their more overlooked dogs and cats with veterans in our program.
Crystal was in foster care “for quite some time” before she met her Army parents.
Many shelters use foster homes for pets who need additional socialization, training, or medical care, or who are too young, too old, or too sick to endure shelter life.
As Army medics, Crystal and Alex are no strangers to a challenge. Medics are primarily responsible and best known for providing emergency medical care to battlefield casualties.
“The animal shelter wanted to make sure they found the perfect match for her because she needed some extra behavioral attention,” Crystal explains. “Then we came, and we were the perfect match to adopt Carrie and give her a loving home.”
For the love of dog and country
It is now two years since Crystal and Alex adopted their once wayward shelter dog. And the active duty Army medics are separated from their beloved pup.
“My husband, Alex, is currently serving overseas with me,” Crystal shares. “Carrie is our only fur baby who is being well looked after by our family while [we are] serving our country.”
Love knows no boundaries or distance, however. Like any proud parent, Crystal is eager to talk about her beloved four-legged child.
“Carrie is such an amazing pet,” Crystal says. “I think one of my favorite things is the progress she has made from when we first got her. Carrie has learned to love and understand us that we will be there and has been able to make such progress. Carrie also loves to celebrate the holidays with bandanas – Halloween, Christmas and even St. Patrick’s Day!”
Give love, get love
We are grateful to have devoted adopters like Carrier and Alex, active duty Army medics that have committed to Carrie for life.
“We decided to adopt through Pets for Patriots because we had a friend who used the program and had nothing but rave reviews for the service provided. He was so thankful for the chance to adopt a furry friend that also needed a new home.”
Crystal appreciates the sense of belonging she has in being part of our extended pack. It has given her additional perspective for the reasons some veterans choose to adopt a companion pet.
“Having adopted through this program gives you another community where you can continue to see the happiness that pets can bring to all,” she says, “especially those who are having a rough time.”
Military life is challenging on many fronts. Being away from loved ones – two- and four-legged – is among them.
And while Carrie was an overlooked dog who needed a loving home, she has given something special to her Army guardians in return.
“Carrie has brought such joy and laughter to our lives. At the end of the long work day we know she will be there ready to give us kisses and play fetch,” Crystal says. “Carrie has opened a new piece of life for me and my husband.”