Adopted senior dog helps Army combat veteran overcome his grief

Adopted senior dog helps Army combat veteran overcome his grief

Joseph is an Army veteran who adopted a lovable senior dog after losing a longtime family canine companion.

The ties that bind

Joseph was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina as an infantryman, known as the backbone of the Army. He would serve two combat deployments, one each in Iraq and Afghanistan, during his three-year military career.

Joseph’s service included time as an airborne soldier as well, which required additional and rigorous training.

Looking back, Joseph is the fond of all the friendships he made. The depth of these relationships is what makes them so cherished and valuable.

“The relationships were built on trust and were real.”

Continuing a life of service

Now a civilian, Joseph lives with his family in Baltimore and works for the local Veterans Affairs hospital. When not at work, he spends time with his wife, Kelly, and two children, Madalynn and Maximus.

Adopted senior dog helps Army combat veteran overcome his grief

At one point the family included a longtime canine companion who, at an advanced age, became seriously ill.

Saying goodbye to the family dog was extremely difficult on the combat veteran and everyone in the household. They came to realize how much they missed the love and vitality that a companion pet can bring.

“We missed having a family pet,” Joseph says.

In time, the Army veteran started to look at available pets at the Baltimore Humane Society. Since 2013 the shelter has waived at adoption fees for veterans in our program to help the most overlooked dogs and cats in their care find loving homes.

It was through the shelter that Joseph learned about our partnership and all of the benefits available to him.

“I wasn’t aware of your program until I went to the shelter and saw a sign posted up,” he says. “I read up on it and realized this was for me.”

A senior dog with more years and more love to give

On New Year’s Eve day in the waning hours of 2016, Joseph and his family met the dog of their dreams.

They decided to adopt Milan despite having recently lost their previous dog to the ravages of old age. The terrier-Italian Greyhound mix was more than eight years old at the time, but still has lots of energy and spirit.

Potential adopters often do not realize that mature pets make wonderful family members. Older pets remain among the most overlooked at shelters across the country.

It did not take long for Joseph to realize that he made the right decision in adopting Milan. Age was nothing more than a number.

“She’s so gentle and sweet,” he says. “She’s a great friend to have. So loyal.”

Adopted senior dog helps Army combat veteran overcome his grief

Joseph and Milan have even created their own special bond. For many veterans, the love shared with a companion pet is reminiscent of the camaraderie they enjoyed during their military careers.

And it does not hurt that the Army veteran and his little charge share a favorite pastime.

“She’s an old timer who likes to sleep. I like to take naps, so that helps.”

An “amazing dog”

Joseph is so happy with how Milan’s adoption turned out that he recommends other veterans who are considering pet adoption do so through Pets for Patriots.

“I would recommend it,” the Army veteran says. “It saved me money. The program allowed me to choose the dog I wanted.”

Every pet is special and it is impossible to replace them when they die. But we can honor their memories by saving another four-legged soul.

Joseph and his family did just that. Not only did they save a shelter animal, they gave hope and a home to a senior dog who needed it most. For her part, Milan did not disappoint.

“She’s just great,” Joseph says. “Such an amazing dog.”



  1. Alyson

    Thank you for your service – and for seeing past Milan’s age. What a wonderful addition to your beautiful family!

  2. Panda J

    First and foremost, thank you for your service, Joseph. I am also a pet parent to a senior dog, Phoebe, who is the light of my life. Thank you for being willing to adopt an overlooked dog that might not have been given the chance at a forever home if not for you and your family. God Bless you all, and I pray for many happy years for all of you together.

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