Stormy and Muchacho were adopted in 2013 when the pint-sized pup stole her heart and those of her children. Years later their bond not only endures, but has grown even stronger.
Life after the Army
In August, 2017 Stormy retired from the United States Army after serving our nation for 20 years. During that time she remarried another career Army officer who retired after 22 years of service. Stormy now works as a program manager for a veteran-owned healthcare company.
Life has changed “tremendously” since the Army veteran adopted then two year-old Muchacho. The pint-sized pup is a black Chihuahua who at the time was in a Washington, DC-area animal shelter.
“Easton was only a freshman in high school when Pets for Patriots and Muchacho came into our lives, he is now a freshman at George Mason University,” Stormy says. “Kaitlyn is a freshman in high school and is very busy with lots of activities.” She adds that Muchacho tags along to those events where he is allowed to attend.
When the Army veteran remarried her household grew considerably. Her new husband, Terry, has four adult sons, and brought a “fur brother” for Muchacho. His name is Archie.
The blended family is big, busy and partly scattered across the country.
“Three of our sons are attending college in the Northern Virginia area,” says Stormy. “Our daughter is in high school. Two of our sons live out of state and have pursued careers of their own, and are starting families of their own.”
The couple are soaking in their post-Army life. And their two small dogs are a big part of their world.
“Terry and I enjoy spending our time walking Muchacho and Archie – “the boys” – around the neighborhood, cuddling with them while watching a movie, and taking them on weekend getaways any time we can.”
How a pint-sized pup stole a military family’s heart
Muchacho chose a most unlikely family to adopt him.
At the time, Stormy was a single mother raising two children. While her son Easton had always wanted a dog, daughter Kaitlyn was afraid of animals. For her part, Stormy grew up with dogs and missed having them in her home.
“One day Kaitlyn, out of the blue, declared she wanted a dog and was no longer afraid of them,” Stormy recounts. “So after careful consideration we searched and searched through several shelters to find the right fur baby to add to our family.”
There are many benefits to children growing up with dogs, but it is important not to introduce any pet into a household with kids without first doing research. Fortunately, Stormy did her homework – and her legwork, too.
“After about six visits to different shelters we finally found our fur baby to bring home with us, one that made us all smile,” she says. “His name was Muchacho and he was perfect for our family.”
The veteran and the pint-sized pup were adopted through our partnership with the Washington Animal Rescue League. The shelter has since merged with the Washington Humane Society. Both were Pets for Patriots shelter partners, and the newly merged organization is known as Humane Rescue Alliance.
The shelter’s Oglethorpe and New York Avenue locations have continued the previous partnership with our charity. They offer veterans in our program half-off adoption fees when adopting program-eligible pets.
Looking for an overlooked pet
Stormy had many good reasons to adopt through Pets for Patriots. Chief among them is our exclusive focus on the more overlooked, undervalued dogs and cats.
We champion adult, special needs, and long-term homeless dogs and cats, as well as larger breed dogs. These are the animals that are most likely to die or languish in chronic homelessness if not adopted.
“I wanted an adult dog and wanted to adopt a dog that was in a shelter that we could bring love to and a forever home,” Stormy says.
Lifetime costs of pet guardianship figured into the Army veteran’s calculus as well. First-year costs alone are estimated at a minimum of $1,000 depending upon species, size of the pet, medical conditions, and other factors.
“Adopting a pet can be expensive, and being a single parent at the time I decided to do research on organizations that support veterans adopting animals,” Stormy says. “Because of the cost of adoption fees and being a single parent, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without their partnership with the humane society.”
The Army veteran realized that any companion pet would become part of her pack.
“Pets for Patriots has provided our family with an opportunity to not only adopt an animal, but placed us in a place to add to our family.”
Little dog with big benefits
Muchacho may be a pint-sized pup, but he has an oversized impact on the people who he knows as family. He entertains with his antics, gives comfort to Stormy when her husband is away, and acts as guardian to his human sister.
“Muchacho has provided us with so much laughter, cuddling, protection, and just simply love. He is a fun little guy who loves to give kisses and have his belly rubbed,” Stormy shares. “On the nights when my husband is away for travel, Muchacho – and Archie too – cuddle up next to me and keep me warm. I know that when our daughter is out walking the boys in the neighborhood she is safe as they will protect her at all times.”
The Army veteran knows that their relationship is mutual.
“It’s those basic needs that we need that they provide us,” she explains, “just as we provide it for them.”
More than a dog
Animal shelters and rescues provide refuge for animals who are homeless through no fault of their own. Stormy sees the invaluable role they play in saving lives by giving hard-luck pets the chance to be adopted. She notes that the shelters we partner with “ensure their temporary residents receive love and the care they deserve until they find their forever homes.”
The little black Chihuahua who won over Stormy back in 2013 still holds a special place in her heart.
“He is more than a dog in our home. He is truly our family member and our lives would not be the same without him.”
Stormy had many options for companion pet adoption when she chose to adopt through Pets for Patriots. While the cost-saving benefits were a factor, it was our singular commitment to the most overlooked animals that made the difference.
“It isn’t always about the financial support that was provided for adopting him, but also about the fact their focus is on finding the forever home for animals that are hard to adopt,” she says. “Their program allows for dogs who are older, larger, or have a special need to be the focus of the search. This is what I was looking for all along.”