Christopher was grief-stricken when he and his wife lost their beloved Boxer Kronk after nearly 12 years. Yet following in their pet’s paw steps would be not one, but two senior dogs who would find love and solace in this Navy veteran’s home.
From San Diego, with love
For 22 years Christopher served in the United States Navy until his retirement in 2017. The former Navy chief now works for a defense contractor in the same city where he served for the duration of his military career: San Diego.
The sprawling city is dotted with several Marine and Naval bases, and is a far cry from Christopher’s mid-Western, Ohio roots. Yet San Diego is where he raised a family – “father of two young ladies” – and now lives with his wife, Jamie.
Christopher served as an interior communications electrician. This vital role is responsible for the maintenance, repair, and installation of various communications systems for Naval ships and facilities. These systems control activities such as navigation, warnings, aircraft landings, and other critical military activities.
One memory forged over Christopher’s more than two decades of service stands out among the rest.
“My most memorable experience was when I was selected for Chief Petty Officer in 2011,” he shares.
From life on the streets to easy street
People cope with losing a pet in different ways. Some seek a new companion right away, while others – like Christopher – need more time. Eventually the hole in his heart left by Kronk’s absence was too great to bear.
“When we were ready,” the Navy veteran says, “we decided to visit our local animal shelter and found Murphy. He is a seven year-old Boxer and [we] wanted to give him a home to spend his senior dog years.”
That shelter is the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services. Since 2011, the organization has partnered with Pets for Patriots to help the most overlooked dogs and cats in its care find loving military homes.
The shelter maintains facilities in Bonita, Carlsbad, and San Diego, and offers our veterans deeply discounted adoption fees.
Murphy – named Oakley at the time – was found as a stray. He had been limping, and was face down and listless on the sidewalk when he was rescued by a county animal control officer. No one knows how he became homeless, how long he lived on the streets, or what he endured.
Clearly life had been unkind to the aging dog. That all changed when Christopher and Jamie brought him home.
Senior dogs times two
Saving a senior pet is a uniquely rewarding experience. While all companion pets are blessings, more mature animals seem to sense when they have been given a second – or third or fourth – chance at life.
And the experience is transformative for people as well. It is extremely gratifying to give refuge to a dog or cat who may be past his prime, and whose seniority is not valued by most adopters.
Christopher and his wife returned to the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services to save another soul.
“About four months later we adopted Rocky. He, too, was a Boxer,” he says. “He is 10 years old and also deaf. We also wanted to provide him with a loving and safe environment to spend his senior years.”
The Navy veteran did not know initially that Rocky could not hear until he noticed that he was unresponsive to voice commands. After a few days of having him home it was clear that Rocky was deaf; but it did not matter.
Christopher and his wife were overcome with the joy of giving two senior dogs the loving home they deserved.
Double the love
“I found out about Pets for Patriots through our local shelter,” Christopher recalls. “It is an amazing program, and [I] wanted to help rescue an older dog and ended up getting two!”
Kronk will always have a special place in Christopher’s heart. But the additions of Murphy and Rocky have been life-saving not just for these two senior dogs, but for the Navy veteran as well.
“These two have brought so much joy to our home,” Christopher says. “All they want to do is please us and show how much they appreciate being adopted. They show us lots of love and are constantly making us laugh. They really helped us with the loss of Kronk.”
Senior dogs and cats are often more spirited than many people expect. Starting life anew in a loving home can help animals who may be aloof in a shelter come out of their shells.
Christopher enjoys how much his two senior dogs get along with each other – and with other members of their human family.
“We love how they interact with each other,” he shares. “I also love how excited they get when we go to grandma’s and grandpa’s. They are always ready to greet you when you arrive home with butt wags and slobbers!”
The retired veteran is not only an advocate for companion pet adoption; he sets an example for others. Christopher believes that people should visit their local shelters for a new pet friend.
“There are so many animals just waiting to be adopted,” he says. “Every animal deserves the chance to fill your home with joy.”