Carly is not one to shrink from doing hard things.
So when the Air Force Reservist moved to a new state where she had no friends or family she created her own. That is when a shelter dog with a fear of new people – and a zest for life – came into her world.
A passion for service
In 2013 Carly enlisted in the Air Force Reserve and still considers it “the best decision” of her life. She joined for reasons that are familiar to other men and women who volunteer to serve our nation.
“I enlisted because I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself,” she shares. “I have been to college and came to realize that it is not for everyone, especially me. I was 27 and working a dead end job. So a friend of mine, a Marine, suggested I enlist with the Air Force Reserve and the rest was history.”
Carly started her military career at Wright Patterson Air Force Base (AFB) in Ohio. Two of her four years there were in the role of Air Force Technician (ART), a full-time civilian job matched with a military position. ARTs are full-time Reservists.
After her first tour of duty Carly found an ART opening in Joint Base (JB) Charleston in South Carolina. She applied, despite not knowing anyone in the state, much less on base, and got the job.
“I came to South Carolina with no family or friends, and I wouldn’t change anything,” she says.
Carly has a lot of memories as a full-time Air Force Reservist. However it is basic military training (BMT) that she recalls most fondly.
“I am probably one of the weird ones, but I absolutely loved BMT,” she shares. “I met some of the best people, I learned a lot about myself and what I am capable of, and I got the discipline I needed. I would go back to BMT in heartbeat if they let me.”
From lonely to loved
Carly’s instincts to move to South Carolina were well rewarded. She met her husband Thomas – a firefighter who works 24-hour shifts at a time – shortly after relocating. But Carly was often alone and lonely, so she convinced her new husband to get her a dog.
Two years ago Thomas surprised his wife with Brutus, a little Pug with a big personality. Carly was delighted.
“I have always been a huge dog lover.”
However, once the couple bought their first home they realized that Brutus needed a full-time friend.
Carly always wanted to adopt a pet who needed a home. She ended up seeing a dog on Facebook who caught her eye and contacted the shelter caring for her to inquire.
On the wings of an Air Force Reservist
In September 2020 Dorchester Paws joined our free shelter partner program.
The organization offers veterans in our program half-priced adoption fees and a small bag of pet food.
Carly had no idea that she would be the shelter’s first adoption through our program. She set up two meet and greets with Florentine, a then three year-old Husky mix.
“We knew right away she belonged with us,” she shares.
The staff at Dorchester Paws reached out to Carly during the meeting process to let her know about Pets for Patriots.
“They told me that it was a new partnership and they thought we would be a great fit for the program,” she recalls. “I went on the website and read the information, read the real stories from other veterans, and decided to apply. I am a huge believer that veterans deserve all the respect and recognition that they have earned and deserve, and I saw this program a way for me to help raise awareness for veterans and animal adopting.”
Carly finalized Florentine’s adoption after a couple of meet and greets with Brutus.
The pair became the first adoption through our partnership with Dorchester Paws, after which Florentine was renamed Fiona.
Et tu, Brutus
The young Husky mix wasted no time making herself at home. Fiona bonded quickly with brother Brutus, despite their different personalities.
“He absolutely hates the mornings and getting him out of bed is like pulling teeth,” Carly explains, “while Fiona is a happy morning dog! She wakes up with her tail wagging and excited to start the day.”
Fiona and Brutus do have some common passions. Both enjoy running in the yard, taking turns eating each other’s food, and curling up on the couch for naps.
Unlike her dog brother, however, Fiona is frightened meeting new people. Carly found ways to work around Fiona’s anxiety, including changes to how people enter their home and when they visit friends.
“We make sure to let them know she is scared and will bark at them,” Carly explains, “but we also have her favorite hot dogs on hand to have our friends throw to her.”
“…the happiest dog”
Although Fiona is a work in progress, Carly proves that she is up to the challenge. She accepts her hesitant Husky mix for who she is and finds ways to ease or work around her fears.
No one will never know what happened in Fiona’s prior life that makes her nervous around new people. While Carly makes adjustments to allay her new pup’s anxiety, Brutus has stepped up to defend his canine sibling as well.
Fiona has tried to expand Brutus’ horizons, in turn.
“She still barks at new people, but Brutus has taken on the role as her protector and has shown her that some people won’t hurt her,” Carly shares. “She had also taken the role as Brutus’ protector and has taught him that squirrels are the mortal enemy!!”
Fiona embraces life with zeal, in spite of her anxieties. Her tail is always wagging and Carly notes that she often appears to be smiling. The rescued pup’s attitude is contagious and has filled Carly’s new home with joy.
“Fiona is probably the happiest dog I have ever met!” Carly exclaims. “She loves to annoy Brutus by booping him on the head in the morning to wake him up and just loves being around him.”
The perfect fit
Carly was pleasantly surprised to learn about our companion pet adoption program for military veterans. It would be icing on the cake that she was our first adoption through our partners Dorchester Paws. The entire experience has made her an advocate not only for veterans adopting pets, but doing so through Pets for Patriots.
“I would definitely recommend veterans to adopt through Pets for Patriots!” she says. “Every animal deserves a warm, loving home and I know veterans are the most selfless people who deserve to have someone that loves them more than they love themselves – and someone to actually take care of them for a change.”
Pets for Patriots is open to veterans from WWII to active duty, from all armed forces. Veterans do not have to have served in combat, have mental health issues, or be disabled in any way to apply to our program.
Carly was thrilled to discover that as a non-combat Air Force Reservist she is eligible to adopt.
“I am so excited that Fiona can be the first dog to be a part of Pets for Patriots through Dorchester Paws,” she says. “Even though that I am still serving in the Air Force and have not experienced combat, she has brought so much joy and fun to our family that I can’t even imagine life without her!”