Lawrence is a man who tends to keep to himself. That all changed when he rescued a giant dog who loves dressing up and going to parties.
The few and the proud
Enlisting in the military was a way for Lawrence to expand his horizons and experience other cultures. During more than a decade in service he got what he had hoped for – and more.
“I joined the Marine Corps to get out of the Midwest, learn some marketable skills, get some education, and see the world,” he shares. “I spent 13 years traveling all over, mostly the Pacific and [the] West coast.”
Like many veterans before him and since, Lawrence cherishes most the bonds he shared with fellow Marines. The friendships born in service are unlike any he would encounter in civilian life.
Beyond the camaraderie were assignments and adventures too numerous to mention. Still, some stood out above the rest.
“I struggle to narrow down my experiences to just one most memorable,” he says. “I’d say the entirety of my first duty station – exploring another country, making lifelong friends.”
After his separation from service Lawrence settled down in San Diego with his wife. However, soon their household would become painfully still following the loss of a beloved pet.
Sounds of silence
Anyone who has ever had a pet knows the deafening silence that accompanies their loss. It permeates even the smallest detail of daily life. For many it provides the impetus to search for another four-legged soul to save.
Lawrence would be no different.
The Marine Corps veteran decided to fill that aching void, one that only a rescue dog could fill. He soon learned about Pets for Patriots and our companion pet adoption program for military veterans.
Our focus on the most overlooked dogs and cats struck a chord.
“I decided to adopt though Pets for Patriots because there were some great perks, discounts on products, and it supported rescuing dogs rather than buying puppies,” he shares.
“This was especially because the focus seemed to be on the types of dogs that have a harder time getting adopted. Bigger dogs, adult dogs, dogs that have been there a lengthy time.”
A giant waits for his hero
It was 2021 and Tucker was in the care of San Diego Humane Society and SPCA. Since 2014 the shelter has offered fee-waived adoptions to veterans in our program through campuses in San Diego, Oceanside, and Escondido.
Tucker was a giant dog in every respect. He tipped the scales at 141 pounds and had a big heart to match his enormous body. But the princely pup – a Cane Corso mix – had an intimidating body that belied his gentle, friendly nature.
Sadly for dogs like Tucker, the vast majority of adopters are not looking for an oversized pet. Nor do most seek special needs animals who have medical conditions requiring lifelong care. Tucker has a chronic eye condition, and knee joint issues that will likely only degrade as he ages.
So the two year-old dog with special needs and a giant heart of gold waited for his hero. Little did he know that fate was about to send in the Marines.
The rescue of a lifetime
In early April 2021 Lawrence was approved into our program; barely two weeks later he and Tucker were adopted. The big dog was soon renamed Grievous, a feared Jedi hunter from the Star Wars movie franchise.
“We got Grievous because the home was too quiet after the loss of our previous pet. No clicking of claws on the floor,” he shares. “But we originally rescued dogs because they need a home, and we had space and time.”
A giant dog like Grievous obviously needs room to move around and stretch out. But he is able to curl himself into an impressively small package when he wants to cuddle with Lawrence on the couch.
Life of the party
However, it is the big dog’s outsized personality that makes the most profound mark on his savior. Lawrence may have the necessary grit of an experienced Marine, but he was not a man who easily comes out of his shell.
Then along came Grievous.
“He makes it easier to go be social, get out of the house, and talk to strangers. I’m more active, and go outside and get some sun and fresh air far more than I used to,” he confides.
Early in their relationship Lawrence learned that the giant dog is something of a party animal.
The pair would visit a nearby park where Grievous was invited to a lot of dog play dates. As his human companion, Lawrence was compelled to become more social as well.
At times, in fact, it almost seems that Grievous believes he is a person.
“He likes to wear clothes. Human clothes,” Lawrence shares.
The gentle giant of a dog is fond of wearing the Marine’s green vest, and enjoys sporting a Thundershirt gifted to him as a benefit of our program.
At the end of 2022 Lawrence relocated to Tampa, Florida to accept a new job. He and his wife are buying a house with a big yard for their very big dog – one who is equally content to stay by his rescuer’s side.
There is definitely something about Grievous. The giant dog who now tips the scales at 150 pounds finds ways to make his needs known, and prompts Lawrence when he needs to get out and about as well.
“He is so smart and learns things very well. He’s pretty chill which suits me well,” Lawrence shares. “He also communicates very well in ways I never expected a dog to do.”
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