Adventures of the Navy veteran and land-loving shelter dog

Adventures of the Navy veteran and land-loving shelter dog

Our gratitude to Rebecca, active duty Navy, for sharing her story on finding her unlikely hero. Buster is an adopted Labrador mix who “doesn’t like the waves too much,” but who adores the woman who saved his life. Read on to find out how he is saving hers.

Thanks to our partners at the Virginia Beach SPCA for helping us make this story possible.

It’s a Navy life

The adventures of Buster and I started January 10th, 2017. That was the day I brought him home and he was more than happy to make himself at home.

But my journey to find him started in June of 2016. Several things had happened in my life that caused me to develop minor anxiety and depression.

My whole life I had been surrounded by animals of all kinds from my family’s four dogs to the zoo I volunteered at with my aunt. Animals were always a passion of mine and always brought me comfort and joy.

From June on I longed for a pet, more so a dog (I’m a dog person). But I knew I wasn’t ready to take that on. I had to take care of myself before I could give a dog the life every dog deserves.

Adventures of the Navy veteran and land-loving shelter dog

In November of 2014 my German Shepard passed away while I was deployed.

My mother took care of him while I was away, and I made her promise that if anything happened to him not to tell me until I returned because I couldn’t handle that loss and still complete my mission. When I returned in January 2015 is when the news was broken to me and it was devastating.

Since then I didn’t want to get another dog because I couldn’t handle losing another.

Longing for the love of dog

Fast forward to the rough time I went through, I knew that I needed a companion who would be there for me no matter what – and even in my darkest [days] would still lay next to me. So a day after a snow storm hit our area I had the urge to bring blankets to the local shelter. As I did [that] and of course I couldn’t just not see all the cuties in the back.

I told myself that I wouldn’t get a puppy, that I wanted to get an older dog because usually they don’t get adopted as fast or at all. Adventures of the Navy veteran and land-loving shelter dog

So I looked an came around the corner to the end and there Buster was just an eight month old pup sitting pretty, waiting for someone to give him a chance.

The moment he saw me he couldn’t control his excitement, he was just begging for me to come toward him. The lady working in the back had said he hadn’t gotten that excited for anyone else who has come to look at him.

The adventures of Rebecca and Buster

I asked to bring him into the yard and meet him, and I think he fell in love with me as much as I did him. We instantly had a connection and he wouldn’t leave my side.

I asked the front desk what his story was how this amazing youngster was there. Unfortunately a couple got him and realized they couldn’t take care of him and gave him up.

I don’t know how; he’s absolutely amazing.

That day I signed the paperwork for him, though he had another [adopter] interested in adopting him.

Hours after I left I got a call that they were no longer interested and that If I was still interested I could bring him home that day. Immediately I said ‘yes,’ and stopped at the pet store and got all the basic stuff and got him.

Little did I know that I wasn’t just excited about getting a dog, but the most amazing best friend I could have asked for.

Life as an adventure

He is definitely one happy dude!

Buster and I share adventures together constantly. I don’t think I go anywhere without him really, except when I can’t I think being on deployments would be so much better if I could take him.

We enjoy hiking, going to the beach, [and] he’s a great running partner! He gets in front of me to encourage me to keep going, or he will speed up to tell me to pick up the pace!

He also is very great in the car. We often make trips up to the mountains a few hours away where he has lots of buddies he plays with up there. I don’t think I’ve ever had a dog who enjoys car rides like him. Maybe it’s because we have a Jeep, so he loves when the top is down and his hair flows and ears flap in the wind!

He gives me so much love that I tell myself I could never deserve. I’ve always said that humans do not deserve the love we get from our pets.

Adventures of the Navy veteran and land-loving shelter dog

As much as he is a great partner in adventures,  he is actually in the process of becoming my service dog. He has helped me through several panic attacks and emotional times. He knows when I’m upset he will lay his head on me; it’s amazing the therapy of just petting an animal.

When he is next to me I know I’m okay and [he] calms me down.

Love rescued me, times two

I think my life would be completely different, and not in a good way, if we did not find each other. I can only hope that I have changed his life as much as he has changed mine.

Pets for Patriots was an amazing factor in all of this. Making it happen, really. They made everything so smooth, and not to mention all the support and love they showed to both of us.

I will be returning to him in a few days from being overseas for a couple weeks on a training exercise. I don’t think I can get any more excited to come home to see him.

Everyday is an excitement to come home to him and just instantly be happy, but his happiness to see me.


  1. Mary

    Love these pictures!!!!!! Sometimes you just know it is meant to be. I’ve lived it. More adventures to come! A great story to wake up to read first thing on a Tuesday morn. Thank you for your service and having room in your heart for Buster.

  2. John A. Smaldone

    A great story and a great match for one another! Buster looks a lot like my dog, Hope, Buster is a great looker!

    My prayers go out to Rebeca for adopting Buster! All my best to you both for a long and happy life together.

    My thanks,


  3. Candis Stern

    Animals have a way no humans have of making you happy and complete. I am so happy for you both. When I travel I always miss my animals. Coming home to them is what makes a happy end to my travels. It clearly is that way for you, too!
    P.S. I am sorry about the loss of your beloved shephard.

  4. Christine E

    I’m so glad Rebecca and Buster found each other. They obviously both had a need for one another. Another Pets for Patriots happy story!

  5. Audrey Jones

    I am so happy for them both. What a couple! I LOVE a happy ending in a world that has so much sadness. Good for you Rebecca for adopting! All my best to you both for a long and happy life together.

  6. Jennifer

    Beautiful story. Looks like Rebecca and Buster found their soul mates in each other. Thanks to both for their service and to Pets for Patriots.

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