Edward always wanted a dog. But the Marine Corps rifleman waited for the right time to welcome the right pup into his home.
Among the few and the proud
Edward served two tours of duty as a Marine Corps infantry rifleman. Rifleman are the heartbeat of the Marine infantry and can serve in a variety of roles, including as part of assault and reconnaissance units.
Edward was assigned a variety of duties during his eight years of service and gained enormous satisfaction from his responsibilities.
“I did every billet in the rifle squad from SAW gunner to squad leader,” he says.
However, the young veteran was most gratified when he earned the opportunity to lead other Marines. These are among the most memorable experiences of his service that he will carry with him for the rest of his life.
“Serving as a fire team leader and squad leader was the best experience from my service. Being able to mentor, train and grow Marines into both men and warfighters is extremely rewarding,” he says.
“The only other role that tops those is being a dad and husband.”
The skills that Edward acquired during his military career proved invaluable during the next chapter of his life. He worked overseas for three-and-a-half years as a private security contractor before leaving at the end of 2019 to spend more time with his young family.
Marine Corps rifleman to the rescue
Edward has since settled into a quiet life near Knoxville, Tennessee, where he works in residential solar power sales. He enjoys spending his free time with his wife, Kawana and their three year-old son, Henry.
The couple dreamed of adopting a dog for a long time. But they decided to wait until Edward was no longer subject to deployments or overseas work assignments.
Bringing a dog into their household was something the couple wanted to do – together.
“My family had wanted a dog since we moved to Tennessee, but I wasn’t home enough to help in raising it,” Edward says. “In addition, we were renting and didn’t want to pay the pet fees.”
In time, Edward and Kawana bought a house. Only then did the Marine Corps rifleman ask his wife if she was ready to adopt a dog. Needless to say, she said ‘yes.’
The couple started their search online and discovered Blount County Animal Shelter. Since 2014, the shelter has waived adoption fees for veterans in our program and together we have made more than 125 adoptions possible.
Staff at Blount County Animal Shelter told the Marine Corps rifleman about our program and the various benefits we offer to make pet guardianship more affordable. It was just what Edward needed to help him welcome home a three year-old dog named Levi.
“My family is tight on money after the tumultuous year of 2020, so having Pets for Patriots help us adopt Levi was a blessing to us,” he says. “Pets for Patriots is an outstanding resource for adoption, and will go above and beyond to help you adopt a new member of your family.”
A little boy and his dog
As it happens the Marine Corps rifleman could not have asked for a better companion dog for his household. It felt like the adult pup had lived with Edward and his family for his entire life.
“Levi has been a blessing for the family,” he shares. “He brings joy to everyone he meets. He is so gentle and mild mannered that he is perfect for our family situation. He has settled in comfortably and didn’t need to be house trained!”
Adoption changed Levi’s life immediately and immeasurably. In an instant, he had two loving adult guardians and a little human brother, too. He came into a household that was ready to accept the responsibilities of adopting a pet for life.
It is often said that rescued animals repay their saviors many times over. This is no less true for Levi, whose mere presence has had a remarkable impact on the family’s littlest member.
“My son, Henry, was having trouble talking even at three years old until we brought Levi home. After that he has shown exponential progress in stringing together sentences, and has a dog friend to keep him company while mom and dad are busy around the house,” Edward shares. “Levi also helps to keep the house clean whenever food is dropped on the floor.”
Adopt, never shop
Edward and Kawana are among those who believe that it is better to adopt a pet than shop for one. It is a philosophy that we wish more people would embrace as millions of animals enter shelters each year, through no faults of their own.
Some people are simply misinformed about the kinds of pets available at shelters, or whether adult animals can adapt to their new homes. However, Levi is but one example of a pet unwanted by one family becoming a blessing to another.
“Levi is a gentle and loving dog,” Edward says.
“He is great around kids, and everyone who meets him compliments him on how beautiful he is. Since he is an Australian Shepherd we need to keep him active so that gives the family all the reason we need to take frequent trips to the park.”
Edward’s days as a Marine Corp rifleman and security contractor are behind him. He can now enjoy all of the fruits of his sacrifices over the course of those many years – chief among them a beautiful, loving family.
And that family will always include Levi.
“We are going to love him and care for him until the day he passes,” he says. “Thank you all for what you do and enabling us to adopt this wonderful dog.”