Afghanistan veteran who loses dog while deployed gives another a second chance

Chad Stephanie and Lilly

A National Guardsman whose dog died while he was deployed to Afghanistan fills the void by giving another animal a second chance at life.

Two years ago and prior his overseas deployment, Chad and his family adopted their beloved dog Major. A rescue dog, Major was “very challenging” due to his prior experiences, but he was also an “extremely loving and wonderful dog.” Chad’s family felt so blessed to have him in their lives.

Major developed a serious health issue while Chad was deployed to Afghanistan.

“Unfortunately, Major had to be put to sleep in order to be free from pain,” he recalls. “It was a difficult process for my wife to go through.”

A history of service and second chances

Chad works in law enforcement in his current hometown of Cincinnati. He decided to join the Naval Reserve in 2003, “after feeling a need to do more to be a part of our nation’s defense.” The opportunity to serve on a part-time basis while maintaining his active family life was appealing.

Seven months into his commitment, Chad transferred to the Ohio Army National Guard – the “OHARNG” – where he continues to serve to this day.

In 2005, he was deployed to New Orleans to assist in the Katrina relief effort, in 2008 to Kuwait and Iraq, and in 2011 to Afghanistan, a tour that ended in September 2012.

It was during this final deployment that Chad and his family lost their beloved dog, Major.

Empty home, empty hearts

Chad, his wife and their two young children felt the stinging void left by Major’s absence. Upon deciding to open their hearts and homes to another rescue dog, they started their search on their local animal shelter’s website, the Animal Friends Humane Society. There Chad saw the Pets For Patriots logo for the first time.

“I navigated to the Pets for Patriots website to see what the organization was all about,” the National Guardsman says. “The more I read about what they did, the more I was impressed with the organization and program.”

The veteran appreciated the connection to a shelter in his community, as well. Chad Stephanie and Lilly

“Knowing that I could adopt through them and that our local shelter participated made it an easy choice.”

Second chances for dog and all

Once his application was approved by Pets for Patriots, Chad took his family to the Animal Friends Humane Society where they met a beautiful dog named Lily, a then nearly six year-old Great Pyrenees. As both an older dog and a very large breed, Lily more than qualified in the Pets for Patriots program, which advocates for the adoption of the most overlooked shelter animals. She is eligible to receive an ongoing 10% discount for her care from another Pets for Patriots partner, Liberty Veterinary Hospital.

Lily isn’t the only one getting a second chance, however; the war veteran and his family have a renewed spirit helping them to overcome the loss of their beloved Major.

“Lily has helped to fill the void that was missing when we had to say goodbye to Major,” says Chad. “She has reminded us just how loving and enjoyable having a dog around can be, and has brought new life to the house as well as our entire family.”

People seem to take notice of the big dog wherever she goes.

“She also manages to get a lot of attention whenever we take her somewhere,” Chad remarks, “as she is an incredibly friendly and loving dog!”

Because of his experiences, Chad wants other veterans to know about the national charity that helped him find his new best friend.

“Pets for Patriots is a fantastic organization,” he says, “and is filling a much-needed void by encouraging second chance pet adoption.”

Chad has always been a big advocate of saving homeless pets.

“Some of the best dogs, in my opinion, are shelter or rescue dogs, especially since many appreciate the second chance at life they are offered.”

“Happiness on a daily basis”

These days, Lily is a bonafide member of the family. Chad loves so many things about her, but perhaps most of all her incredibly loving nature, “how she offers unconditional love all the time.”

One of Lily’s favorite things is to snuggle at every opportunity, an interesting experience with such a large dog.

“She really enjoys sitting or laying close, sometimes right on top of us, every chance she gets,” Chad says. He wants other military personnel to find their best friend with the help of Pets for Patriots.

“I hope that any veteran or service member considering adoption finds a Pets For Patriots member shelter,” says the veteran, “and pays a visit to see what kind of wonderful friends are available for adoption.”

As for Lily, Chad has no second thoughts about giving her a second chance at life.

“She has been a great addition,” he says, “and continues to bring us happiness on a daily basis.”

How has your adopted pet given you a second chance at happiness?

1 Comment

  1. Laura Jean Weis

    My husband and I looked into Pets for Patiots and because we didn’t live near one of their chosen vets, my husband was turned dow. I use the Canyon County Animal Shelter’s clinic. What’s wrong with that? So, my husband is cheated? I can drive to where thier vet is anyhow!

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