Jim has cared for others his entire life. So it seems just that the former flight medic rescued a dog who comforts him in return.
Standby and stand down
In 1962 Jim enlisted in the Army. He was just a year out of college at the time.
The young soldier completed basic training at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas and jump school at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Jim’s first assignment was with the storied 101st Airborne – known as the Screaming Eagles – at Fort Campbell. It was there that he experienced his first taste of what it means to be a soldier.
“Shortly after joining the 101st we were placed on standby readiness during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Spent my 21st birthday preparing to jump into Cuba!” he recalls. “Thankfully, the Soviets backed down and we were stood down.”
Soon Jim would be reassigned to Fort Sam Houston in Texas, where he trained as a special forces medic. He would serve stateside as an Army flight medic with the 45th medical company, or air ambulance, out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
These professionals are tasked with providing critical medical care to troops in transport, often from a conflict zone to a military hospital or other facility.
In March, 1966 Jim separated from the Army with an honorable discharge. But his instinct to care for and give comfort to others never left him.
Flight medic with a caring heart
While Jim’s tour of duty is many decades behind him, he continues to guard the welfare of others.
“I’m retired and living in east Tennessee near the mountains,” he says. “Currently a full-time caregiver for my wife of 52 years, Joanne.”
Jim likes to fish in his free time. He and Joanne are proud to have two daughters, including one who shares their home, and four grandchildren. And until 2018 a Fox Terrier named Kita was part of the family until she passed away.
Joanne has wanted a lap dog to love ever since losing Kita.
“I went looking for a replacement pet for my wife who would provide us with a similar function,” Jim explains. “Little did I know what a change Madison would make in our household.”
From one gentleman to the next
In 2019 Madison found herself homeless. The Schnauzer mix was five years old at the time and, like many pets eligible in our program, she was harder to place due to her age.
Jim learned about Pets for Patriots on the internet and from information provided by his veterinarian.
“I decided to search for an adoptable older pet qualified under the Pets for Patriots program,” he recalls.
Many adopters prefer more mature dogs and cats because what you see is usually what you get. Typically these are pets who lived previously in at least one home, know basic commands, and are familiar with the ebbs and flows of home life.
At the time, Madison was in the care of Blount County Animal Center.
Since 2014, the shelter waives adoption fees for veterans in our program and has made possible more than 125 Pets for Patriots adoptions.
The former Army flight medic learned how Madison became homeless and was touched by the little dog’s plight.
“When I adopted Madison I discovered that she had been given up by an older gentleman who had to go into a nursing home. Turned out that she was decidedly a man’s dog and spends most of her time up on my recliner chair next to me!” he exclaims, adding, “She does give occasional lap time to my wife.”
So while Jim sought to adopt a companion pet primarily for Joanne, Madison sensed that perhaps the Army veteran needed her more.
“…my constant companion”
Jim and Madison were adopted just two weeks after the Army flight medic was approved into our program. He has no regrets about adopting an adult dog – and adds that the benefits of our program help with everyday costs.
For her part, Madison adapted well despite the sad circumstances of her surrender. She is an affable and easygoing friend to everyone in the household – two- and four-legged.
“Madison is a trusting companion to both my wife and I, and gets along with our cats,” Jim shares. “She comes when you call her name. She rolls over and plays dead when you point your finger at her, and loves belly rubs.”
Like all pets – and people, for that matter – Madison has her eccentricities. Jim observes that she does not like to be on leash, but nonetheless will walk right beside him. And the former Army flight medic has a new road trip buddy, even if it is just to run errands.
“I also discovered that she loves to ride in the car, although she prefers to be on the driver’s lap!” he says.
Jim is the consummate caregiver, from his service as an Army medic to the loving care he gives to his wife Joanne. It is in his DNA to want to help and heal others.
While Madison gives comfort to Joanne and loves her dearly, it seems just that she is Jim’s four-legged nurturer.
“Madison has become my constant companion,” he says. “Has settled right in and is a superb watchdog – when she’s not napping!”