Misunderstood shelter dog brings new life to disabled Navy veteran

Misunderstood shelter dog brings new life to disabled Navy veteran

It took a misunderstood shelter dog to help Chris and his wife cope with the grief of losing their previous family pet. And in doing so the wrinkly-faced pup found people who knew they hit the adoption jackpot.

“…so much love to give”

Chris served in the Navy. While he is proud of his service, like some veterans he prefers not to talk about his military experiences.

“I am a disabled vet,” he shares.

In the fall of 2018 Chris and his wife, Heather, lost their previous dog. Their Beagle led a long, full life and died of old age.

Several weeks later the Navy veteran applied to Pets for Patriots to fill the gaping void left by his departed pet.

“I chose to adopt a pet so soon after my dog’s death because I wanted to rescue a dog in time for Christmas,” he explains. “We have so much love to give.”

How much is that misunderstood shelter dog in the window?

At the time, Russy was a two year-old Pug mix in the care of our partners Virginia Beach SPCA. The shelter offers 25 percent off adoption fees to veterans in our program and access to their low-cost veterinary clinic.

Russy was at the Virginia Beach SPCA’s satellite adoption center, located in a popular retail mall.

Many animal welfare organizations operate off-site adoption centers in high-traffic, retail settings. This helps them reach people who may not be inclined to visit a traditional shelter, but who may be interested to adopt a companion pet.

The shelter staff told Chris about their partnership with us to help adopt the most overlooked dogs and cats into loving military homes.

“I am so grateful for the opportunity to use this program,” he says. “Even though we would [have] paid the full amount for him, the benefits and support has been very helpful.”

Our mission is not only to unite veterans and pets through adoption, but to help make pet guardianship affordable over the life of those pets.

A Pug by any other name

In early December – with plenty of time before Christmas – Chris and Heather welcomed Russy into their home. The Pug mix was aptly renamed Pugsley.

Misunderstood shelter dog brings new life to disabled Navy veteran

Little is known about the life of this misunderstood shelter dog other than that he was surrendered by his owner. But Chris remarks that some information was shared during the adoption process led him to believe that Pugsley’s previous guardian simply did not understand him.

“Our dog is doing wonderful,” he says about Pugsley. “He has adjusted well to my house and wife. Some of the stuff that the previous owner wrote in the paperwork does not seem to be true, and he is doing a great job.”

There are many reasons why people surrender their dogs and cats. Still, it is not uncommon for individuals giving up their pets to blame the animal in order to justify the surrender.

For his part, Pugsley is everything that Chris wanted, and more.

The disabled veteran needed to fill some of the aching void left by the death of his previous dog. Adopting a youthful adult shelter pet injected newfound energy into his daily routines.

“Pugsley has brought new life into our house,” he says. “Our old dog died of old age. It is so nice to have a young pup again, wanting to play.”

Adult dogs and cats are among those eligible for adoption through our nationwide program.

And while Pugsley qualified as an adult, we help many senior pets find loving homes – in addition to those who are disabled or long-term homeless.

The once misunderstood shelter dog is now a welcome breath of fresh air. Chris has given his new first mate all the love and patience he needed to adjust to their new lives together. Pugsley shows his joy by following Heather around the house and snuggling at every possible opportunity.

But Chris sums it up best.

“Pugsley is perfect!”


  1. Mary Eaton

    Patience sometimes makes all the difference. And even tho it make take some time, it is worth it once you realize you and the new four legged friend have turned the corner. Thank you for welcoming Pugsley so soon and during the holiday season (as if that isn’t stress enough with all the festivities)! Grateful for your service.

    Pets for Patriots, thank you for helping to make this adoption possible.

  2. Christine E

    What an adorable dog! So glad you found each other.

  3. Catheryn Adens

    Wow. I need a pup. I’m driving therapist out of this world. I need a pup who will walk me , Love me care for me. I don’t want to alone or lonely anymore. I need a friend. I can only have hypoallergenic dog
    Such as. Poodle Maltese and mix poodle.but I cannot afford what the shelters are asking .

  4. Panda J.

    Thank you for your service, Chris AND Heather. Thanks, also, for taking a chance on Pugsley and giving him the time to truly show you how special he is. God Bless all 3 of you with many, many happy years together.

  5. Brett

    I just adopted my second shelter rescue, three years after my retirement from the Army and the same shelter matching me with my first dog.
    In the case of my first, he rescued me from depression and feeling of uselessness. In this case he and I rescued this little girl from a lifetime shelter residency. Together the three of us are a wonderful family.
    Thanks to the heroes working in all no kill shelters.
    God bless you!
    Retired Army.

  6. Gary Gonzalez

    What a great, uplifting story! I just love it when things come together like this : ). Congratulations and all the best to Pugsley, Chris & Heather!!!

  7. John A. Smaldone

    Great story, great adoption! Chris, I am happy you and your wife feel Pugsley is everything you both wanted, and more.

    God Bless Chris and than you for your service,

    John Smaldone
    US Air Force Vet

  8. Crystal Anderson

    I love this story

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