Globe-trotting Navy corpsman comes home to shelter dog

Globe-trotting Navy corpsman comes home to shelter dog

A Navy corpsman who spent his career helping others continued his caring ways in retirement with his decision to adopt a shelter dog.

More than four decades of caring for others

During his 20 years of military service John traveled the world. At each destination fellow service members and locals benefited from his medical expertise – and his compassion. He was responsible to render medical care to sailors and Marines, as well as to local populations as part of the military’s many humanitarian activities around the globe.

Among John’s various duty stations were National Naval Medical Center, Medical Battalion 2nd FSSG, Okinawa, and Medical Section NMCB-7. Deployments with the SeaBees took the Navy corpsman to Spain, Guam, and Sigonella, Sicily.

The Navy veteran has many memories from his two decades in service. One expedition that sticks in his mind the most is an attachment to the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 7 (NMCB-7). It was commissioned during WWII and became known as the “Magnificent Seven.”

“Most memorable time was my assignment with a SeeBee Civic Action Team as medical support on deployment with NMCB-7 in Guam,” John recalls. “The civic action team was made up of 14 SeaBees and one SeaBee officer. We were deployed to Palau and I was responsible for their medical care and also medical of many of the local population.” Globe-trotting Navy corpsman comes home to shelter dog

John retired from the Navy in 1992 as a Chief Hospital Corpsman after 20 years of dedicated service. He remained in the medical field, working as a civilian surgical technician at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. In 2016, John chose to retire and explore the next chapters in his life.

Right pet, right time

Now retired, John decided that he finally “had time to care for a dog.”

“I chose to adopt because I always had a pet growing up,” he says.

Having known the time that pets require – and deserve – John waited until he was fully retired to welcome a new pet into his home. He learned about our companion pet adoption program for military veterans online or, as he likes to tell it, “by surfing the web.”

The retired Navy corpsman was approved into our program in the final days of 2014, but did not adopt a shelter dog until nearly eight months later. John knew it was important to find the right pet for himself and his family. He knew that pet adoption should never be an impulsive decision.

The Navy corpsman and the “love bug”

In time John came to visit the Prince George’s County Animal Management Division, one of many municipal animal welfare organizations in our national shelter network. Often perceived unfairly by the public as modern day “dog catchers,” most municipal shelters are staffed by compassionate people. Their responsibilities often include not only pet adoption, but cruelty investigations and enforcement of all animal-related laws.

Like most municipal shelters, Prince George’s County Animal Management Division are guardians of the most vulnerable animals in their community. They offer fee-waived adoptions to Pets for Patriots veterans who adopt an eligible dog or cat.

Globe-trotting Navy corpsman comes home to shelter dog

It was there that John met a large, relatively young American Bulldog. Wilson entered the shelter as a stray, so little is known about his prior life and how he came to be homeless. But after months of searching, the Navy corpsman believed he met his match. In August of 2015 John adopted Wilson and promptly renamed him Peanuts.

John describes his newest charge as “a smart boy.” Peanuts “needed a refresher on housebreaking,” which is not uncommon with newly adopted dogs. Despite these minor adjustment issues, John marvels at how well Peanuts gets along with the family’s other dog. He even likes their cats.

Peanuts is proof that shelter animals who are given proper training, patience and love make wonderful companions.

“He is a total love bug,” John says. “He is the best.”


  1. John A. Smaldone

    Great heart warming story, John and Wilson look very happy together and they both look like they are loving retirement!

    God Bless them both,

    John S.

  2. frank klafs

    great shot, The dog has a bigger smile.
    Shelter babies are warmth givers

  3. Joseph F. Passarelli

    Thanks, Doc!

  4. bethz

    How wonderful! We like to think that they’re both lucky. 😉

  5. Mrs Goldblatt

    What a truly heart warming story. I know John and what a caring man he is. “Peanuts” is a very lucky dog.

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