Jose has always had a passion for service. He would deploy that devotion to helping others throughout his military and civilian lives, including the rescue of a Pit Bull in need of a loving home.
Man versus nature
Jose is a Coast Guard veteran and self-described “military brat.” His father served in the Army and the family moved often between the United States and Central America.
When time came to leave the nest, Jose found that college did not offer the clarity of purpose he sought. So the young teen chose to enlist in the Coast Guard in part because he liked the idea of rescuing people. He hoped the experience would inform what he was meant to do with his life, as well.
In 2000 Jose enlisted and started as an athletic trainer for Coast Guard recruits. Subsequently he was stationed in New Jersey and North Carolina, respectively, to train as an avionics electrical technician.
These skilled professionals are responsible for the maintenance, inspection, service, and repair of various navigation, sensor, surveillance, communication, and radar systems.
Over the course of his 20-year military career Jose worked on various types of aircraft. He was dispatched around the world for interdiction, humanitarian, and search and rescue operations. These assignments took him to Europe, South and Central Americas, the Caribbean, and the West coast.
“I got to train the best military members in the United States Coast Guard,” Jose says, “[and] got to hang out with some awesome people.”
Some of Jose’s deployments were in support of counter-narcotics and migrant interdiction operations. However, what he recalls most were the humbling, deadly forces of nature during hurricanes and thunderstorms.
“Whenever you’re over the ocean looking for someone that’s drowning, it’s like you versus nature,” he explains, “and you got a crew of men and women that are working together to keep a plane in the air and trying to find someone else, someone that needs our help.”
Jose found his purpose by serving his country and helping others. This passion for service remained his life’s focus even after separating from the military.
While the man left the Coast Guard, the Coast Guard did not leave the man.
Jose reflects how a Coastie’s core values of honor, respect, and devotion to duty manifest in everyday life.
“You show honor and respect to others,” he says, “but if you don’t honor and respect yourself, and have boundaries, and feel like you’re a value to yourself, you’re not going to be a value to anybody around you.”
Duty is the commitment to doing a job to the best of one’s abilities – like Jose’s commitment to raise his son or support clients through his home inspection business.
A higher purpose
After separating from service Jose spent a year teaching at a local high school. However, he had a strong entrepreneurial spirit and wanted to start a business of his own.
So the retired veteran with a passion for service earned his North Carolina home inspector license to help people through all aspects of home ownership.
“I decided to start my home inspection business because I wanted to help other people,” Jose says. “Most people don’t understand how much work it takes to own a house, to be a homeowner.”
Jose treats all of his clients like family and remains a resource for them throughout their homeownership journeys. He hopes his passion for service is contagious.
“You bring the core values of the military branch that you were in into anything that you do, and you want to share that with others, even if they haven’t been in the service,” he says.
Jose believes that investing in others is a worthy risk. In fact, risk taking is a mentality that he believes most military veterans share. Helping people through all stages of homeownership is a risk he is willing to undertake because it improves peoples’ everyday lives.
“I’m a firm believer that everybody’s purpose on this planet is to help others,” the retired Coast Guard veteran says. “Regardless of whether they [have] two legs or four legs, our job is to help others. If I can’t carry that from my military career ’til the day I die then I’m purposeless, and that’s a really crappy way to live.”
Cow + Pit Bull = love
Growing up, Jose only had a pet in his life once or twice before he enlisted. Although he had a Pit Bull many years prior to the birth of his son, the demands of his military career made it difficult to have a pet.
However, Jose promised his son, Jorrin, that they would adopt a companion pet once he retired and had a house. And for this Coastie a promise made is a promise kept.
In April 2021 Jose and Jorrin visited Virginia Beach SPCA, which is relatively close to their home in North Carolina. Each had their own breed preferences: Jorrin wanted a Cane Corso while Jose loved bully breeds.
Since 2012 Virginia Beach SPCA has partnered with Pets for Patriots to help the most vulnerable dogs and cats find loving homes. In exchange, they offer veterans in our program 25% off adoption fees and access to their low-cost veterinary clinic without proof of income eligibility.
A shelter staff member introduced father and son to Doug, a then two year-old Pit Bull with chronic skill allergies and big, white and brown spots.
Jose was smitten.
“The first thing I noticed when I saw him, ‘Oh my G-d; he looks like a cow. It’s the best thing ever,” he jokes. “He’s like a bundle of a muscular cow.”
“…I needed him as much as he needed me”
The bespeckled Pit Bull’s joyful nature won over Jorrin as well. Father and son renamed him Ajax for the mythical god in Homer’s epic poems the Illiad and the Odyssey.
Jose is a firm believer that those who want a companion pet should adopt, not shop. He shared this life lesson with Jorrin, who was nearly 12 at the time, so that his son would understand how adoption saves lives.
“You can go to a puppy mill all day long and get this thousand-dollar dog, but you can also go to [an] SPCA and help a dog that may not have been loved the right way, but already had humans in their life,” Jose says. “And they need that. I didn’t realize that I needed a dog until I got him, and then when I got him it’s just like I needed him as much as he needed me.”
You’re still the one
It took some time for Ajax to get used to his new home, which is not unusual for rescue animals. The big dog’s previous family left him alone for 12 hours at a time.
Eventually Ajax’s separation anxiety waned as he became accustomed to the schedules of both Jose and his son. However, during the summer there was one less human in the household because Jorrin spent two months at his mother’s home.
At first, Ajax was perplexed.
“When my son left, it was like, ‘Where’s my other boy?'” Jose says.
It was during this time that Ajax came to understand that Jose is the one constant presence in his life.
“You’ve got another life in your hand”
Jose chose to adopt through Pets for Patriots because of our core mission to support military veterans. He especially likes that our team walked him through the process of adopting Ajax each step of the way.
It reminds Jose of the spirit of service that he invests in everything he does in his own life.
“So it’s like, ‘Hey we’re gonna help you with this new responsibility and we’re gonna support you through it.'” he shares. “It’s like a mission. You’ve got another life in your hand. It’s not a human life, but it’s definitely a life and you want that life to flourish in your care.”
The retired Coastie urges other veterans to learn about our companion pet adoption program. And, if adopting a dog, to consider Pit Bull breeds.
Happy tails and happy tales
For his part, the veteran with a passion for service feels validated in his decision to have added Ajax to his family.
“He’s got a good life. When we get home, he’s excited and that’s the best part like, ‘Ah, somebody’s happy to see me.’ My son, he’s 14 and he’s not always happy to see me,” Jose laughs. “But my dog, our little one, he’s always happy to see us.”
Every day Ajax is a spirited reminder of why Jose chose to adopt his new best friend. He is unable to contain his joy whenever Jose comes home.
“When he’s happy, he’s full blown steroid induced,” Jose jokes. “You cannot contain him when he’s happy. His tail will beat the living crap out of you.”
Prior to rescuing Ajax, Jose did not realize how much he needed this always-there, ever joyful companion.
Man and dog are tuned into each other’s emotions. They have even developed sweet routines together, such as Jose planting peanut butter for Ajax to scavenge and the big dog’s insistence on playfully interrupting Jose’s workouts.
But it is through these small, yet special moments that an enduring bond is formed.
“I’m single still with my son – and it’s just companionship and, I guess, what you’d call it unconditional love. That’s the stuff that you don’t get in the military. You got to perform in the military. But in the pet side, if you feed them, that’s how they love,” Jose explains. “He’s my dog and I’m his human.”
We are always told we will receive what we put into the world, but in this story it’s hard to see where the love begins- I I see a big happy circle!
I love this story – great luck to Jose,Jorrin and Ajax