Iraq War veteran gives overlooked older dog a second chance at life

Brian and Preston

Brian is an Iraq war combat veteran who decided to give an overlooked, older dog the second chance he deserved. Brian and Preston

The Fighting Thirteenth

Currently working as a software developer for a medical billing company, Brian enlisted in the Marines because he “wasn’t yet ready for college.” Trained as an infantry rifleman, he deployed on the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), known as “The Fighting Thirteenth,” as well as the 31st MEU.

The young veteran’s tour of duty included a combat deployment to Iraq. Once home, he thought a dog would help make it easier to go from battlefront to home front.

“I learned of the Pets for Patriots program through a pet rescue’s website,” Brian says. “I decided to adopt through the program because it helped ease the transition from no pet to pet with buying required supplies.”

Pets for Patriots makes pet parenthood affordable for military veterans through discounts offered through adoption and veterinary partners, as well direct contributions towards the costs of welcoming a new pet home. The goals are not only to help the most overlooked homeless animals get adopted and give veterans a new best friend, but to reduce the chances of these pets being returned to shelters due to cost of care.

Send in the Marines

Preston was a seven year-old, gray Weimaraner at the Big Dog Ranch Rescue with few prospects for adoption. Since most people prefer younger or smaller companion pets, he had two strikes against him as a large, senior dog. Preston napping

Fortunately, Brian saw something – and someone – worth saving.

“He’s older,” the Marine veteran says, “but still has a lot of lovable energy.”

Following a “meet and greet” at Big Dog Ranch Rescue Brian arranged to bring Preston home. The rescue offers Pets for Patriots veterans a deeply reduced adoption fee of $50, and through its affiliation with a Florida-based Weimaraner rescue the organization typically has dogs of that particular breed available.

Second chances

Contrary to popular belief, one of the many benefits of older companion pets is their ability to adapt to new situations. For Preston, this included getting acquainted with the family’s other four-legged member: the cat.

“Preston is doing great getting adjusted to his new surroundings,” Brian says. “He is interested in meeting our cat, but is very gentle about it.”

The big dog’s gentlemanly demeanor around the cat should not be mistaken for a lack of vigor. To the contrary, Preston is a “high energy” dog who gets his Marine to take him out at least twice a day for walks. He “listens well – most of the time,” and has a “goofy” personality that Brian finds compatible with his own. Brian and Preston at beach_love

“We feel like we owe him, so we often take him with us if we go to outdoor events, including farmers markets,” says Brian. “We occasionally take him to a dog beach as well.”

Many shelters and rescues will keep companion pets, like Preston, for as long as it takes to find them the right home. Although this spares these animals the grimmest fate, life in the best animal welfare organization still pales in comparison to a loving home of one’s own. By adopting Preston, Brian not only gave the older dog a second chance at life, but gave his own new meaning as well.

“He really is a great dog that needed a second chance,” he says, “and because of his age he was often overlooked. I’m glad we are the ones to give him that chance as he makes a great addition to our family.”

Learn more about the ways companion dogs and cats help military veterans.


  1. Karen Walenga

    I love this story and photos, too, Brian. Wishing you and Krissy may happy years with Preston!

  2. LindaMaria

    I wish us humans could leave our bigotry out when it comes to Age, the Black Dog + Cat (they are almost certain to die in a kill shelter)

    And breed. None of these things has anything to do with their ability ti Love, Learn, and enrich our Lives. As long as we care for their needs, Be a good Pet Guardian, teach them our rules, and walk them outside of our backyards They will give you so much more than you give them.

    I May be helping start up a PTSD Service Dog Program for our Veterans. Is there somewhat at this group that could email me should I have any questions?

    God Bless all Our Veterans.

    People Like this are the heroes of the world. Not Athletes, Actors, etc.

  3. Susan

    I love this story and I LOVE that photo of Preston asleep in the chair. It made me laugh out loud! I think we can say he’s one happy pup if that photo and the others are any indication.

    Thank you for rescuing him Brian and thank you for your service.

  4. Jeff Payne

    Great story! Brian, thanks for making a difference!

  5. Lynn Caldwell

    This is such an awesome story & I am so glad that Brian got the pet that will be his pal & that Preston got his second chance through Brian. A huge “Thank You” to Pets for Patriots for this program. There look very happy together.

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