Karen has devoted her life and career to helping others. The hospital corpsman recently discovered that love is blind when a severely malnourished, older dog came into her local animal shelter.
Uplifting the downtrodden
In 2015, Karen enlisted in the Navy. She went to boot camp in Great Lakes prior to being stationed in San Antonio, Texas to get essential hospital corpsman skills.
Karen’s first duty station was Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. This assignment pleased her not only because her husband is from Maryland, but because the work was extremely gratifying.
“While working there, I was a facility dog handler,” she explains, “which entailed visiting patients of the hospital, improving morale of hospital employees, and hosting special events.”
This assignment has been Karen’s most memorable of her Navy career because it allowed her to uplift wounded warriors, active duty personnel, and their families.
Yet even when she is not working Karen still gives to others.
The Navy corpsman volunteers at the SPCA of Anne Arundel County where she meets hundreds of dogs each year, introduces them to potential adopters, and helps them find homes.
Hershey was an exception.
Love is blind
Karen fell in love with animal rescue when she adopted her blind dog, Chase, through the SPCA of Anne Arundel County. Since 2016 the shelter has adopted dozens of dogs and cats to veterans through our partnership and waives their adoption fees.
When Karen first met Chase he was wearing the “cone of shame” because he had his eyes surgically removed. The cone protected his face and allowed him to recover.
While it took a little time for the blind dog to learn his way around Karen’s home, it did not take long for Chase to win her heart.
As a result, the Navy veteran became inspired to help other homeless animals. Later that same year she started volunteering at the SPCA of Anne Arundel County.
One day in April 2018, Karen went to the shelter for her volunteer shift. The manager told her about a very sick dog named Hershey who had been transferred in from another shelter and needed immediate surgery.
“She had two fist-sized calcium stones removed, her ribs stuck out of her sides from starvation, and she also needed one of her eyes removed. She was completely blind,” Karen. “She was in rough shape.”
Hershey would need to go into foster care due to her fragile health. Animal welfare organizations rely on foster homes to help animals with extensive medical needs, as well as those who are too young, too old, or who would not be otherwise suitable to be kenneled in a shelter.
Karen volunteered to foster the then eight year-old dog the moment she saw her. Deep down she knew that Hershey would never go back to the shelter.
And as the saying goes, love is blind.
A few days later and once she was stabilized, Hershey went home with Karen to continue her recovery.
Adopting sweet Hershey
So for some time Hershey convalesced in Karen’s home. The Navy corpsman wanted to adopt Hershey, but decided to wait until the senior dog had expensive eye surgery.
“After fostering her for a few months,” she says, “I feel in love with her and she fell in love with us, too. She is everything I want in a dog and best friend!”
One December day following her volunteer shift at the shelter Karen inquired about adopting Hershey for Christmas. The staff encouraged her to apply to Pets for Patriots.
If approved, Hershey’s adoption fee would be waived and Karen would receive other benefits to reduce the overall costs of adopting a companion pet.
Karen and Hershey did celebrate Christmas together, but still as part of a foster agreement. On the very last day of 2018, however, Karen was approved into our program and adopted the senior dog.
The Navy corpsman reflects on how much Hershey has changed since she left the shelter.
“When I brought her home, she was quiet. She slowly bumped into walls, finding her way,” Karen recalls. “Now Hershey is a loud, happy, and well-adjusted girl. Her favorite things are throwing her toys up in the air, cuddling with her brother, and doing handshakes.”
And even though Hershey is old and cannot see, Karen knows that love is blind – and unconditional.
“Life with her is perfect. I’m so glad she found our family.”