Homeless hound joins Devil Dog family

Homeless hound joins Devil Dog family

Dolly was a fully grown, homeless hound looking for love in a Connecticut shelter when a Devil Dog crossed her path and made her family.

The other day that will live in infamy

It was September 11, 2001, a day that Brad recalls vividly as his most memorable day in military service.

“[I was] sitting in an ambush site in Kosovo when we got the call on the radio that terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.”

Later that same year the Marine Corps veteran sustained a serious injury while on deployment, ending a military career that started in 1999. Now in his final year of law school, Brad interns with the United States Attorney’s Office and works part-time as a real estate agent. He shares a home with his girlfriend, Shannon, and her teenage son and younger daughter.

“It was fate”

Brad was like many pet guardians who mourn the loss of their beloved four-legged friends: missing a four-legged companion, yet conflicted about adopting another pet.

Homeless hound joins Devil Dog family

“I had lost both of my dogs last year to illnesses associated with old age,” he says. “Having a dog-less house was strange and felt empty. I knew I wanted to get another dog, but felt as though I would be dishonoring the memory of my dogs.”

To cope with his grief and still show support for local animal shelters, the Marine Corps veteran decided to run a 5k race in support of the Danbury Animal Welfare Society. Unknown to Brad at the time, the shelter had joined Pets for Patriots several months earlier and offers discounts to veterans in our program who adopt an eligible dog or cat.

As Brad crossed the finish line he saw something – or rather, someone – he did not expect, and who would forever change his life and that of his young family.

“At the end of the race there were refreshments and some of the shelter dogs were milling about. Then along came this dog who strutted in to the gymnasium.”

That dog was a homeless hound named Dolly.

“I went over to check her out and it hit me instantly that we needed her and she needed us,” he recalls. “It was fate.”

Once homeless hound makes a house a home

Brad did not adopt the then six year-old Redbone Coonhound on the spot, but was determined to find out more about this dog who stole his heart. It was upon his return visit to the Danbury Animal Welfare Society that the Marine Corps veteran learned about Pets for Patriots, and about the many benefits of adopting through our partnership with the shelter.

“It was certainly helpful to have the benefit of this program,” he said, adding, “it made the process very easy, and helped with the transition for Dolly.”

Homeless hound joins Devil Dog family

Once Brad adopted Dolly it was clear that she was the perfect choice for his family.

“We have a complete home again,” he says. “She settled in very quickly and has been a huge part of our lives in such a short time.”

To say she settled in quickly might be an understatement. Within an hour of going to her new home Dolly managed to “claim her spot on the couch.”

Devil Dog is heaven sent

Dolly may be the family dog, but that does not make her any less part of the family. She gets rather vocal if she feels slighted from any plans that Brad, his girlfriend and the kids might make that do not involve her. Homeless hound joins Devil Dog family

“She is so sweet and just wants love,” he says. “She loves to ride in the car, and she howls at us if we don’t take her with us. She thinks she is very funny!”

The big hound gets in on more vigorous family plans as well, including “a few hikes and a 5-mile run.” Brad concludes that “she has been amazing” and is with his family “for life.”

Since Brad had dogs in his life before Dolly he was well-prepared to welcome the big hound home. It is critical for all potential adopters to make sure that their home – and their family members – are ready for companion pet adoption. Brad believes that people who are looking for a pet should look no further than their local shelter, rescue or municipal animal control.

“If you have the time for a pet and have the space, then please go save a shelter dog,” he says. “It will change your life in the best way. You think you are saving them, but really, they are saving you.”


  1. Phil Ernst

    Semper Fi from an old Devil Dog! GREAT story, best of luck to the “entire family”!! I tried to use “Pets for Patriots” but unfortunately there was no participating veterinary close enough after losing my 14 yr. old Lab. I was so blessed to find another Lab. that was free and the rest of the story is the same as yours. She is now the boss! Wouldn’t have it any other way. She had been on a logging chain at the edge of a woods w/10 others for 2 yrs. She earned the title of BOSS!!

    • bethz

      Phil we’re so delighted that you found another Lab – even if not through our program – and one so worthy of being saved. And you’re right: she’s definitely earned the title of boss! Thank you for your service and for giving this girl the life she deserves.

  2. VAe LLC

    Great story! Thanks for all that you guys do for our veterans and their future pets!

  3. mary

    I have to chuckle because years ago we too had a redbone coonhound. His name was Red! Be sure to watch the dining room table when you are serving dinner, especially roast beef, in other words, don’t look the other way if Dolly is close. Hoping you live in the country or else have a large yard and no close neighbors as when she gets to baying you might need ear plugs. tee hee. For those of us who have lost dogs (or cats) due to age related illnesses, a heart will mend.
    Thank you for your service.

    • bethz

      Aw, thank you! It’s our honor.

  4. Steve

    Devil Dog and Hound Dawg and Beautiful family. Sounds like a match made in heaven. Wishing a wonderful life for you all.

  5. Jerry

    I myself know firsthand what Brad went threw. You see I’m a Vietnam vet. I had two dogs that I lost the same day dew too old age and I said to myself never again. That was helping at are local human shelter and this little Yorkie name bell just fell in love with me every time I came in she would jump up on my lap and I new she was coming home with me my wife fell in love with her at first site and the best is yet to come! Hats off to pets for patriots

  6. jOSEPH f passarelli

    Thank you for your service and for finding and accepting Dolly into your home. Semper Fi!

  7. Bethryn

    So happy for Dolly, Brad and family. I was fortunate to spend some time with her at daws. She is a wonderful girl and deserves that great family she got. Kudos to daws, fabulous caring people and amazing organization. Love always to Dolly:)

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