Dog’s love gives Coast Guard veteran renewed sense of purpose

Dog's love gives Coast Guard veteran renewed sense of purpose

Life has been difficult for Shane since he separated from military service. But the Coast Guard veteran soon learned how a shelter dog’s unconditional love would turn his world around for the better.

Serving in wartime

Shane lives in Maryland with his young family. He tries hard to adjust to post-military life as well as the effects of devastating head injuries from his youth.

“I am a veteran living with post concussive syndrome from high school and college sports,” he shares. “I can’t work now, but my family and pets are my world.”

Shane’s military service coincided with one of the most tragic events in our nation’s history: September 11 (9/11).

Serving stateside with the Coast Guard did not diminish the value he provided to our nation nor the stresses of the job. To the contrary, the attacks inspired renewed focus to protect our homeland through enhanced port security. The mobilization of Coast Guard Auxiliarists and Reservists in the wake of 9/11 were the largest of their kind since WWII.

“I served in the Coast Guard during 9/11 and the Iraq and Afghan wars,” Shane says.

It was 9/11 that gave Shane the most memorable experiences of his Coast Guard career.

“I had just come off a 24-hour post and was called back to base. We had days on a boat guarding the Norfolk military installations.”

During wartime, it is critical to not only defend seaports and bases, but to ensure the safety of all maritime navigation. Shane was proud to play his part.

A man in search of his dog

Adopting a companion pet was not Shane’s idea; for this he credits his wife.

“She wanted me to have a dog that would keep me active,” he explains, adding that she encouraged her husband to explore their options.

Dog's love gives Coast Guard veteran renewed sense of purpose

As it happens, one of Shane’s friends adopted through Pets for Patriots and recommended our program to him. We focus solely on the most overlooked companion pets: dogs and cats who are adult, special needs, or long-term homeless, and large breed dogs.

Our commitment to these more forgotten animals and the simplicity of our process had Shane sold.

“The program is great! It was easy to do,” he says, “and you rescue a pet that is sitting in a shelter.”

The Coast Guard veteran was accepted into our program and started his search in earnest. Shane took his time because he knew how important it was to find a dog who would fit into his young family.

The magic of a dog’s unconditional love

Shane met his match more than a month after he was approved into our program.

Egypt was a stunning, large Labrador Retriever mix in the care of our partners Prince George’s County Animal Management Division. Since 2013, the shelter has made possible dozens of adoptions through our partnership, and waives adoption fees for our veterans.

The Coast Guard veteran wasted no time giving his new dog not just a new life, but a new name: Saige.

Dog's love gives Coast Guard veteran renewed sense of purpose

“Saige was scared and shaking when we met her. She was so shy,” he says. “But now that she is home she loves her daddy. She is with me all the time. She plays with our other dog and makes us laugh. She is such a ball of energy.”

It turns out that Shane’s wife had the right idea – and Saige is not the only one who has changed for the better. The young dog forces Shane to get out more than he had been and lead a more active lifestyle. She loves her siblings, too, both human and canine.

In many ways the former shelter dog found her purpose in giving the same to her savior.

For Shane, it is the simple things about Saige that he loves most. And it is those very same things that make their bond so special.

“She smiles,” he says. “That dog snarly nose smile. She always wants love.”



  1. Lori Hill

    Rescue dogs know they’ve been rescued and are so appreciative day in and day out. We don’t just rescue them. They rescue us.

  2. Brandy

    Thank you. Saige truly has given Shane a purpose. She is Daddy’s girl. He spends a lot of his day talking to her. The are always snuggling. You guys really did save him with this dog.

  3. Frank Klafs

    Beautiful story

  4. Melody Macaluso

    This is a great testimony to the good done by your program. Congrats on a job well done!!!

    • bethz

      Thanks for the kind words, Melody!

  5. John A. Smaldone

    A beautiful story and a beautiful Dog! Way to go Pets for Patriots!


    • bethz

      Thanks, John! Always appreciate your thoughtful comments on our stories.

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