Affectionate shelter dog teaches naval officer important life lessons

Affectionate shelter dog teaches Naval officer important life lessons

Jennifer serves in the Navy Medical Service Corps and knows a few things about caring for others. Still, it would be an affectionate shelter dog who would school the young officer about other meaningful lessons in life.

A tradition of service

Patriotism and a family history of military service inspired Jennifer to enlist in the Navy.

“I joined to give back to my country,” she shares, “and to follow in my grandfather’s footsteps.”

Jennifer’s caring heart and desire to help others led her to the Navy Medical Service Corps (MSC). It boasts thousands of officers serving across more than 30 diverse health care specialties, such as aerospace physiology, physical therapy, and radiation health.

For the past two years Jennifer has been stationed at a naval hospital clinic. However, not all of her military career has been served onshore. She recounts fond memories of serving aboard an aircraft carrier.

“One memorable experience was getting to hit the button to catapult a plane off the flight deck while out to sea,” she recalls. “It was an awesome way to see how important all of our jobs are to carry out the mission. It also was really fascinating to see all the math and technology that is behind launching and catching aircraft.”

When she is not at work Jennifer enjoys exploring the Hampton Roads community with her fiancé. These adventures now include the latest addition to their family: an affectionate shelter dog adopted through Pets for Patriots.

And then there were two

In early 2022 Jennifer had an astute realization that the couple’s senior dog might benefit from a canine companion. And the naval officer makes no bones about her passion for adopting pets, not shopping for them.

“I’ve always loved animals, especially shelter animals,” she says.

“My first dog, Izzie, is 11 years old now and still very sprightly. However, I thought it would be a good idea to adopt a second dog to give her company, give another dog a home, and further bond our family together.”

So in April, Jennifer and her fiancé visited Norfolk SPCA.

Since 2015 the shelter waives adoption fees for veterans in our program who adopt eligible dogs and cats.

Together we have made dozens of adoptions through our partnership. And it was there that Jennifer discovered Pets for Patriots and the benefits we offer to make lifetime pet guardianship more affordable.

“I found out about the program at a shelter, where I saw the flyer,” she recalls. “It seemed like a great way to make adopting a dog more affordable while offering more support than traditional means.”

Jennifer applied to our program and was approved. The Navy officer appreciated how every step of our process was easy and moved her closer to adoption.

“I would definitely recommend your program!” she says. “You provide so many resources I never imagined I would have access to. I think working with you has been an incredibly smooth process.”

However, it would be nearly two more months til Jennifer would meet an affectionate shelter dog to join her growing pack.

Rescue me

Introducing a new dog to your resident dog properly is essential to nurture a harmonious relationship. Jennifer was wise to take her time to find the right dog not only for herself and her fiancé, but for their senior dog Izzy, as well.

Myla was a then three year-old Pug and Cattle Dog mix in the care of our partners Norfolk SPCA. She was homeless through no fault of her own just like millions of dogs and cats who enter animal shelters every year. Still, her kind, playful demeanor shined through despite the typical stressors of shelter life.

In the end, the affectionate shelter dog made an impression on Jennifer. In June the pair were adopted, nearly two months after the naval officer was accepted into our program.

Myla’s new chance at life deserved a new name. From that day forward she would be known as Ginger.

“She has taught me patience”

Sometimes people with senior pets are concerned about bringing a younger animal into their home. They are concerned that differences in age, agility, and energy level will lead to conflict. However, these differences often uplift the more mature pet, who in turn tutors the new animal in the rules of the roost.

Izzie and Ginger have found their way after a brief and occasionally rocky introduction. And Ginger’s loving manner has endeared her to her new human guardians. She is an equally able cuddle and exercise partner.

“She’s very affectionate, which is adorable,” Jennifer shares. “She believes she is a lapdog and is not shy about it. She’s very good at catching toys in the air, which is a great party trick. We enjoy playing and running together.”

Still, life is not all fun and games – even for an affectionate shelter dog who hit the adoption jackpot. Jennifer credits her rescue pup with imparting some important life lessons.

“She has taught me patience! She has increased my ability to understand how to take care of others, especially a very youthful dog. She is a very lovable dog and I’m excited to continue getting to know her and her personality.”

Jennifer has a full and busy life and did even before rescuing Ginger. Naval officer, loving partner, senior dog mom – just a few of the roles and responsibilities that comprise her day. But she still found room in her heart and home for a dog who needed both. And in return, Ginger has invested her new family with a breath of fresh air that they did not even know they needed.

“Ginger really seemed to hit that mark,” Jennifer says. “She’s a very sweet dog who loves company, and has certainly given our family an infusion of energy.”


  1. Jacquelyn

    I would also like to thank you for your service. It’s so good another pet has found a loving home. May you have many happy years and memories together!

  2. Panda J.

    Thank you for your service, Jennifer. Ginger is adorable, and I know that she will return your faith in her many times over. I truly believe that a rescued pet knows that they were saved by their human, and spends the rest of their life thanking them for their love. God Bless you and your family.

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