An abandoned shepherd dodging traffic owes her life to an Air Force veteran who stopped to save her and ultimately add her to his family.
Earning his wings
In 2007 Jonathan enlisted in the Air Force. Like many young enlistees he saw the military as a viable career path and as a way to experience the world.
To this day, Jonathan recalls his time overseas as the most memorable of his long career.
“I know that’s a broad scope, but experiencing different cultures and ways of life has had a massive effect on how I view my own life and my place in this world,” he shares. “From Afghanistan to Sicily, the time I spent overseas will always be some of my fondest memories.”
Jonathan traveled the globe over the course of two deployments and numerous overseas assignments. And during a six-year tour in the United Kingdom he met the woman who would become his wife.
In 2021 Jonathan received Permanent Change of Station orders and returned stateside with his new bride. The following year the couple celebrated the birth of their first child, Theodore.
The storied Grey Geese
Jonathan is now stationed at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, DC.
“I’m currently the non-commissioned officer in charge of logistics and readiness at the 11th security forces squadron,” he shares.
Logistics and readiness officers play a vital role in force preparedness.
These professionals are tasked with ensuring that all personnel and equipment are ready to deploy on a moment’s notice and get to where ever they are needed.
History of the 11th squadron dates to 1915 and the formation of the First Aero Company, a precursor to today’s Air National Guard.
When not at work, Jonathan and his growing young family are always on the move.
“We like to stay as active as possible with walking, running, biking,” he says, “while balancing raising our son.”
In time that balancing act would become more of a challenge when the Air Force veteran crossed paths with an abandoned shepherd dog.
A night unlike all others
It was the middle of May 2023 and just like any other day when Jonathan left base for the night.
“I was driving home from work on a wind[ing] back road and there was a German Shepherd darting through traffic,” he recalls. “I was sure she was about to be hit, so I stopped to try and convince her to get into my truck.”
Approaching a frightened animal is fraught with risk. Even the most even-tempered dogs can lash out from abject fear.
The Air Force veteran did not stop long enough to consider what might have happened. He just knew he needed to save this abandoned shepherd’s life.
“I was sure she wouldn’t trust me or at worst was going to attack me,” he shares.
“After a few moments I was shocked that she just walked up to me and allowed me to pick her up and put her in my truck. I had no idea what to do then.”
The big dog with improbably big ears was filthy and muddied the child car seat in the rear of the truck.
Jonathan was concerned that his wife would be displeased with their unexpected guest. However, he was quickly proven wrong.
“Surprising, my wife wasn’t too upset about the dirty car seat,” he recalls, “or the random dog I showed up with.”
“I couldn’t let her go”
The couple did not intend to keep this bedraggled, abandoned shepherd. They brought her to their local shelter where she was named Mystery, owing to her uncertain roots.
Prince George’s County Animal Services Division has worked with us since 2013. Over the years we have made 160 adoptions through this partnership, with the shelter waiving adoption fees for veterans in our program.
Staff told the couple that they would get in touch if the dog’s family did not claim her. Nevertheless, each night Jonathan and his wife checked the shelter website to see if she was still listed as lost.
Jonathan remained interested in the wayward dog’s welfare despite not actively looking to add a pet to his household.
The Air Force veteran’s attachment to the abandoned shepherd only grew while he waited to see if a family would claim her. He felt a kinship with this dog who – in fear and despair – surrendered her life to him without hesitation.
“I just felt such a strong connection to her ever since she trusted me, there on the side of that road, that I couldn’t let her go.”
Then came the call – and the catch.
“She has [sic] picked up a disease from being bitten by a tick and would require extensive medical care,” Jonathan says. “Somehow even with a cat and a baby at home, my wife allowed me to bring this strange, diseased, German Shepherd into our home and give her a chance.”
Sweet mystery of life
It was the end of May when Jonathan welcomed Mystery home, having been newly approved into our companion pet adoption program for military veterans.
Mystery – estimated to be about three years old at the time – was renamed Luna.
The prospect of large veterinary bills associated with nursing Luna back to health loomed large. Jonathan appreciates the support and benefits we provide, in addition to Prince George’s County waiving Luna’s adoption fee.
“I just wanted to say thank you so much for your support and assistance in adopting Luna,” he says. “We are loving having her as a new addition to our family.”
And then there were four
Jonathan’s daily life has become even more of a juggling act, with two adults, a baby, a cat – and a big, convalescing dog. But he would not have it any other way.
The Air Force veteran feels a unique connection to Luna. He and his wife are committed to integrating their found dog into their family.
“Bringing Luna into our home has been an amazing experience,” he says.
“We are still learning how to balance her with our child and our daily lives, but she is wonderful. She inspires us to spend more time as a family and make sure that we are getting out every day.”
It is no mystery that our companion pets make us happy. Even an abandoned shepherd who nearly died on a busy road has an innate and irrepressible capacity to love.
“I love that we seem to have a special bond,” Jonathan shares. “She is so affectionate and energetic it’s almost impossible to be in a bad mood around her.”
There is some truth to that Rolling Stones song about not always getting what we want, but sometimes getting what we need.
Before that fateful night on a winding road Jonathan was not looking to adopt a pet. Nor did he know how moved he would be by Luna, a cruelly abandoned dog. Now she is his four-legged north star and keeps him focused on what matters most in life.
“Luna keeps me honest to myself and my family,” he shares. “She inspires me to continue to improve myself.”