After traveling the world with the Army an Afghanistan veteran finds her soulmate in an Indianapolis animal shelter: a redheaded canine who needed a home.
A legacy of military service
Sarah grew up in a military family on the northern side of Indianapolis. Her father served in the Army as an infantry officer for 32 years. When he decided to retire, Sarah decided to enlist.
“I realized I did not want to lose that part of my life that was involved with the Army,” she says.
For seven years Sarah served in the Army National Guard, from 2007-2014. During the course of her enlistment she deployed to Afghanistan and worked as an intelligence analyst. Her work involved logistics and supply chain management – moving soldiers and cargo to different areas where and when they were needed.
“There are both positive and negative aspects of deployment,” she says. “It’s difficult to be a female soldier in a mostly male environment, but at the same time it’s a very positive experience to serve your country. I very much enjoyed working with the translators overseas and meeting new people.”
After her separation from military service and re-entry to civilian life, Sarah worked in a variety of positions. She currently works for a school in an administrative capacity. When not at work, the Afghanistan veteran enjoys running and hiking, as well as spending time with her large and close knit family.
“I am one of five children and one of 30 grandchildren. Everyone lives within an hour of each other.”
Fourth time is the charm
Sarah had been eager to get a dog for a long time, but living in an apartment put those plans on hold. Once she bought a house and had the proper space she knew she had to find a four-legged companion.
“I had to talk myself into going to the shelter for the first time,” she confides. “Not because I didn’t want to go, but I just knew I would find a dog on that first visit.”
Sarah believes that “adopting shelter dogs is the only way to go” because there are so many wonderful animals who face a grim future if not adopted.
“I had a dog with my ex-husband and that dog was a rescue as well,” she shares. “It’s important to adopt from shelters, it gives the dog another chance.”
Sarah met Ivy, a then three year-old Dogue de Bordeaux/Mastiff mix, at the Humane Society of Indianapolis. The shelter has partnered with Pets for Patriots since 2010 and offers a 35 percent discount on all pet adoption fees to veterans in our program.
As Sarah predicted, it was love at first sight when she set her eyes upon the fiery-haired canine.
“When I met her I fell in love with how big and dopey she was,” Sarah says. “She’s a redhead like me!”
Lucy the redheaded canine
The Army veteran adopted the big dog and promptly renamed her Lucy after the TV icon, Lucille Ball. Soon thereafter Sarah learned that she was Lucy’s fourth home. The redheaded canine had been surrendered to the shelter by her first owner and returned to the shelter by the second.
“At first I thought I was her third home, but the vet told me she had had a microchip put in and it wasn’t put in by any of her former owners, ” Sarah explains. “I am actually the fourth owner she’s had.”
The humane society staff explained that Lucy was repeatedly surrendered because her previous guardians said that she was not social.
“That ended up being 100% not true,” Sarah says.
Shelters often rely on whatever information is shared with them by the person returning their pet, and often that information turns out to be inaccurate. Sometimes people are reluctant to admit the real reasons they are giving up their dog or cat; other times they simply have not given these pets the chance they deserve to acclimate to their new surroundings.
As it turns out, Lucy is quite the socialite.
“She’s pretty laid back, she’s just a big dope, and she doesn’t realize how big she even is.”
Sarah wonders if all of Lucy’s previous guardians simply lacked the patience to get to know her, or whether they found her youthful energy too much for them to handle.
“I work with special needs children, so I am a patient person in general,” she says. “Maybe that is why we are so right for each other. She does have a lot of energy.”
Sarah and Lucy share similar personalities, in addition to both being redheads.
“I love how she’s a lot like me. She can be both social and reserved. We can have fun together and also give each other space and quiet time when we each need it,” Sarah says, adding that the big dog “loves being around people.”
As it happens Sarah took her cues from her father in more ways than one. The retired Army officer told his daughter that various groups help military veterans with the costs associated with pet adoption and guardianship. With a few keystrokes and a couple of clicks, Sarah found our organization.
“Pets for Patriots came up right away in my search,” she recalls, “and they were very easy to get hold of and very responsive.”
The Afghanistan veteran had a positive experience with our partners at the Humane Society of Indianapolis as well, and now she continually refers other veterans to adopt through this partnership.
“It is such an awesome program.”
Most important, Sarah found her redheaded canine counterpart, and both of their lives are the better for it.
“My life has a little more peace and fun it it.”