Michael served in the Army for six years, including a deployment to Afghanistan. But after his homecoming he was a hero of a different sort when he rescued a dog who turned out to be his family’s missing link.
The bonds of war
In 2011, Michael enlisted in the Army. For nearly a year the young veteran trained in Georgia before being stationed in Camp Stanley, South Korea.
Upon returning stateside Michael was stationed at Fort Drum, New York for the remaining four years of his contract. It was during that time that he deployed to Afghanistan for 10 months.
The young veteran served as a 25S satellite communications systems operator and maintainer. These professionals are responsible for the Army’s tactical support for all satellite communications.
Afghanistan left Michael with the most enduring memories from his time in service. Like many veterans, it is the close relationships with his fellow soldiers that had the most profound impact upon him.
“Being deployed to Afghanistan is probably my most memorable time period while serving,” he says. “While deployed I created some of the closest bonds and friends with my fellow soldiers that I still cherish today. I experienced so much there that I will never forget.”
No place like home
In 2017, Michael separated from service and returned to his hometown in Pennsylvania. In time he joined his girlfriend in Baltimore, Maryland, where the couple eventually bought a house together.
Still, their house was not yet a home. Michael put his finger on what would be the missing link to their lives.
“We bought our home in 2019,” he shares, “and the only thing missing from our large fenced-in yard was a furry four-legged companion.”
The couple knew exactly what to do next because they are firm believers in adopting companion pets.
Adopt not shop
Both Michael and his girlfriend are dog lovers and believe in adopting animals from shelters.
Now that the couple had a home of their own it was only natural to find that missing link – a dog who needed the loving home that they were so eager to provide.
“We are always [dog] sitting for friends,” Michael says, “and our home has a huge fenced in yard perfect for any dog.”
The couple were already familiar with the Baltimore Humane Society, from which they rescued their two cats almost ten years ago.
Since 2013, the shelter has waived adoption fees for veterans in our program who rescue program-eligible dogs and cats. Together we have saved scores of homeless animals.
“When we found out Baltimore Humane Society was also partners with Pets for Patriots, we knew we wanted to continue to support them,” Michael says.
Search for the missing link
The Afghanistan veteran started his search the way most people look for almost everything these days: on the internet. Michael knew that rescuing a pet means making a lifetime commitment, so he and his girlfriend did not rush the process.
“We looked online for a long time before going to the shelter,” he says, “and once we found Jayde, we knew she was the one for our family.”
At the time, Jayde was named Sasha. She was nearly two-and-a-half years old – a rambunctious, black and white, mixed breed dog with floppy ears and big, soulful eyes. She entered the shelter earlier that month with little known about her history.
But Michael knew instinctively that this particular shelter dog was meant to join his household. So just three days after being approved into our program in 2019 the Army veteran welcomed Jayde home. He is thrilled that our partnership with Baltimore Humane Society made it possible to find his family’s missing link.
“Pets for Patriots is such an amazing organization,” he says, “and I can’t imagine where Jayde would be if they didn’t bring us together.”
“She brought our family closer”
Jayde is an outgoing and loving dog. And her youthful antics bring even more energy into Michael’s active home. Studies have shown all the ways that dogs make us happy and improve our overall well-being.
The Afghanistan veteran’s newest family member is no exception.
”Jayde’s personality is the best! She makes faces and she is so clumsy! Jayde can make anyone’s day just by watching her be her,” he says. “Jayde is such a people person. She loves everyone, except the mailman.”
Just as Michael hoped, the rescue dog he rescued turns out to be his family’s missing link.
Jayde even has a unique relationship with each member of the household.
“She’s gentle with my eight year-old daughter, playful with me, and cuddly with my girlfriend,” Michael shares. “She brought our family closer by giving us a reason to go on family walks or explore new places.”
Thanks to a floppy-eared rescue dog, this Afghanistan veteran’s house now feels like a home.