Laura might as well have walked into a Tennessee animal shelter and said, “Make mine a double.” The career Air Force veteran, now serving in the Air National Guard, adopted a bonded pair of dogs found running the streets as strays.
Decades of dedication
You could say that military service runs deep in Laura’s veins.
Now living in Tennessee, the Air Force veteran served for more than seven years active duty as a missile systems technician, and since 1989 has been serving full-time in the Air National Guard as an avionics technician on the KC135R aircraft. Collectively, Laura has more than 20 years of faithful service to our country.
Laura’s daughter served for six years in the Tennessee National Guard, and Laura mentors a nine year-old boy through her work with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program of East Tennessee.
“We were matched because he loves all things military,” she explains.
Due to the nature of her work, Laura has logged a lot of miles throughout her long career. The veteran’s many travels include Iraq, where her base went as a team for six weeks during active combat.
“I have traveled extensively with my job,” she says, “48 states, 27 countries.”
These days Laura is content to serve closer to home. In addition to her membership with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, she hikes regularly with the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club of East Tennessee.
Of loss and love
The Air Force veteran has always had a soft spot for dogs in need. Most recently she adopted a senior dog named Dylan, who died just three years after Laura saved him.
“He was such a good dog – good for the whole family,” she shares. “My daughter has suffered with PTSD. Dylan really helped her – she has turned everything around now – found treatment through a program for women veterans. I credit that to Dylan.”
Laura was lonely following Dylan’s death, and it wasn’t long til she was scanning profiles of adoptable pets at the Blount County Animal Shelter. A little Chihuahua mix named Kristin caught her eye.
“Adorable,” Laura recalls.
Another veteran who used to work at the same base where Laura is stationed now works at the shelter, and told Laura about their partnership with Pets for Patriots. Working with animal welfare organizations across the country, we help military veterans give hope and a home to the most overlooked dogs and cats. Blount County Animal Shelter waives companion pet adoption fees for veterans in our program who adopt an eligible pet, as an expression of gratitude for their service.
At seven years of age, Kristin – since renamed Petunia – fit the bill, and the little dog soon filled Laura’s heart. But it didn’t end there.
Make mine a double
Petunia was found as a stray. While she was homeless, she was not alone. Another Chihuahua mix, since named Pinky, was similarly down on her luck. The two had become what is known as a bonded pair, and most shelters make every effort to have coupled pets adopted together.
“[I] got the second one,” says Laura, “because they were found running the streets together and were very attached to one another.”
While not much is known about their previous lives, Petunia and Pinky are now living large. They bring Laura and her family a tremendous amount of joy and, while they do not replace Dylan, they occupy a place in Laura’s heart that was empty before their arrival.
“They add lots of company, lots of laughter,” Laura says. “They are two little clowns – always happy.”