Adopted dog helps Marine Corps veteran adjust to post-military life

While many people choose to adopt a dog or cat to make that animal’s life better, one Marine transitioning out of the military learned that it is equally true in reverse. He found a stellar Shepherd mix who “makes every day better” for him as he copes with the realities of his post-military life.

For love of country

In 2009, Ryan joined the Marines. The next five years of his life as an infantryman brought him far from his Wisconsin roots, as he relocated from coast to coast during his time in service. Ryan and Maximus

“I entered the military to serve this country and because it was something that I always wanted to do,” he says.

For the first three years of his military service, Ryan was stationed in Thurmont, Maryland and spent his last two years in Pendleton, California with the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. Of his many experiences the most memorable were the more than two years he served “at Camp David and the guys in 2nd Platoon.”

Now separated from service, the Marine veteran lives with his fiancée in Chicago and is currently pursuing a degree in exercise science.

A man and his dog

Shortly after leaving the military Ryan felt that something was missing. Although he is busy attending school and planning his upcoming wedding, there was nonetheless a sense that his life was not complete.

“I have always wanted to have a dog of my own,” Ryan says, “and even though my family had a dog while I was growing up, it was actually my sister’s dog.”

 Like many people looking to adopt a pet Ryan started his search online, where he came across Pets for Patriots. It was his first introduction to the nationally operating charity that helps military veterans adopt the most overlooked homeless dogs and cats, enhancing – and often saving – two lives in the process.

“I looked into it,” the Marine veteran says, “and saw that they supported in helping vets not only find a pet, but help with initial costs too.”  Ryan fiancee and Maximus

Ryan applied to the program, was approved quickly and almost immediately found Red, a large Shepherd mix with  a rich auburn coat. The big dog was in the care of the the The Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago, one of hundreds of Pets for Patriots partner shelters around the country. The shelter extends a 10% adoption fee discount to veterans in the program, who receive additional benefits through Pets for Patriots – such as help with pet food and veterinary care.

In August, 2014 Ryan adopted Red. The now ex-shelter dog went home to his new life and to a new name: Maximus. 

“He makes everyday better”

In just the first few weeks since his adoption Maximus began to take full advantage of the second chance that Ryan has given him, but he is not the only one who has been changed for the better. By helping his new battle buddy adjust to life in a real and loving home, Ryan is integrating more easily into his new life as a civilian.

The Marine veteran marvels at how Maximus has grown.

“He is finally not afraid of getting into vehicles,” Ryan observes, “and goes through bones as though it is his job!” 

As the months ticked on and Maximus gained confidence that he was truly part of the family, he has shown himself to be at ease with other dogs and new people, too.  One of the things the Marine veteran loves most is watching Maximus play in the snow with total abandon. Ryan and Maximus

“I think he is finally comfortable with everything,” says Ryan, “and [I] can’t wait for what the years bring with Maximus.”

While the big red dog is grateful for a forever, loving home, Ryan appreciates how Pets for Patriots is changing lives – including his own.

“This is a great organization,” he says, “that is truly there to help a veteran with finding the pet that will help change their lives for the better.”

In this way and so many others, Maximus delivers.

“He makes everyday better with the antics that he provides us on a daily basis.” 

Are you or do you know a veteran transitioning to civilian life? Find out how a companion pet can help.


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