Billy is a Navy veteran and animal lover who decided it was time to open his heart and home to a companion pet. His search for a furry friend lead him quickly to Dylan – a chatty tabby cat who is giving the old saying “dog is man’s best friend” a run for its money.
Proud to be an American
Billy grew up in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains in eastern Tennessee and served in the Navy from 1988 through 1992. He was assigned to F-14 Fighter Squadron 142 at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia, where he worked as a radar and weapons systems technician.
The Navy veteran completed two deployments in the early 1990s while aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Eisenhower. One was in support of Operation Desert Shield and the other Operation Desert Storm.
Despite the challenges and fears that accompany wartime deployments, the most inspiring experience of Billy’s military career was set aboard the Eisenhower as the ship returned to the states.
“Our battle group was the first to sail back to Norfolk, Virginia, after Desert Storm had begun. From the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay until we docked, there were hundreds of boats welcoming us back,” he says. “Lots of cheering, flags waving, fireworks, and celebration. As we pulled in the dock, ‘G-d Bless the USA’ played ship-wide. Very few dry eyes aboard the Eisenhower at that time.”
Billy returned to his roots once his Naval tour of duty came to an end. He settled in his hometown of Alcoa, just south of Knoxville, and works in healthcare.
“I currently live about a half mile from where I grew up,” he says. “I have a beautiful wife and two beautiful daughters.”
Chatty tabby cat ‘talks’ his way to a new home
The Navy veteran and his family have a lot of experience having cats as part of their pack.
In July 2016, Billy, his wife and daughters began their quest for a new furry member of the household. They had wanted a cat for a while and knew adopting from the local shelter was the best option. Above all, they were committed to giving their new adoptee a home for life.
“We all love animals and wanted one in our home because they bring so much joy to your life,” Billy explains.
It was at this shelter that Billy and his family spotted an adorable orange tabby cat, named Apollo at the time. They were smitten instantly by his sweet personality and talkative nature.
Soon after bringing him home it became clear to Billy that then two-year-old Apollo – now Dylan – was a perfect fit for his family.
“We renamed Apollo our first day having him. My daughter wanted to call him Dylan, which he seems to be fine with,” Billy says. “He has slowly, but surely, adjusted to our family. He plays a little more each day and seems more at ease with us as he becomes accustomed to our schedules. He has been well-behaved and not been any trouble with chewing or scratching stuff other than his toys.”
Pets and veterans: better together
Billy first heard about Pets for Patriots and how our program works from the staff at Blount County Animal Center. It was an easy decision for the Navy veteran to join our program after he learned more about our mission.
“I adopted through this organization because I think it’s a wonderful mission they have to help veterans and service members find pets,” he explains. “I would definitely [recommend] any veteran or service member to use Pets for Patriots for pet adoptions. Everyone in the organization is friendly, prompt, and genuinely wants to help with adoptions. They follow up with you and assist you in anything they can.”
Talk to me
Dylan broke the stereotype of the aloof cat. He has proven to be an affectionate companion who is always present, always up for a cuddle, and always ready to let you know when he is hungry.
“He loves to be right beside someone at all times,” Billy says. “He is there to greet us first thing in the morning and when we get home in the evenings. He loves to be petted. He is very loving and likes to ‘talk’ to us with his unique meows. He is also very vocal when it comes to chow time!”
Thanks to Billy, Dylan now has a home and four devoted humans to shower him with love. And thanks to Dylan, Billy and his family have a loyal friend for life who has already changed their world for the better. Studies have documented emotional and physical benefits of having cats in the household, including improvements to mental health.
Billy did not need science to tell him that Dylan has changed his home life for the better.
“He has brought so much happiness to me and my family,” the Navy veteran says. “If I am having a bad day, he will crawl up in my lap and make the bad day better.”
The chatty tabby cat even inspires the family to do more things together. Of course those things revolve around Dylan.
“Playing games with him in the evenings is a family thing – we all get involved,” Billy says. “We just love him like a family member.”