They say if you want a best friend in politics, get a dog. One Navy sailor found the same to be true, with a twist: he saved an adult dog and, in the process, changed both of their lives forever.
A dream and a dog
In March, 2011 Brandon set sail from his original hometown of Marion, Ohio to attend basic training at the U. S. Navy Great Lakes Training Command about 30 miles north of Chicago, Illinois, and then specialty training “A” school in Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida.
After extensive training, in 2012 Brandon transferred to his current home base in Virginia Beach. Being able to live off base afforded Brandon an opportunity to realize a dream. He didn’t mind living alone, but had this feeling that something was missing in his life.
“I was getting lonely,” Brandon recalls. “I’ve always had pets growing up and I’ve wanted a dog of my own since I joined the Navy.”
“When I got my apartment,” he says, “I decided to adopt a pet.”
Saving a harder to adopt adult dog
Brandon considered the opportunity to adopt a puppy. Doing some critical thinking, he understood his commitment to both country and the Navy while considering the best interest of a pet. Any adopted animal will require exercise, feeding, general health care, grooming, love and affection, but in return provides companionship, unconditional love and gratitude for having been saved. After much thought, he chose to accept the responsibility and affection of an often less desirable adult dog, realizing that they have as much to offer as puppies, but are often already trained and are most in need of adoption.
Based on the recommendation of his office mates, Brandon was encouraged to qualify for a companion through Pets for Patriots, a nationally operating charity that helps at-risk shelter animals – adult and special needs dogs and cats, and large dogs – find loving homes with veterans. He paid a visit to Norfolk Animal Care and Adoption Center, a locally participating shelter, to find his new best friend. As an approved Pets for Patriots member, the shelter offered Brandon a reduced adoption fee of $50, and from Pets for Patriots he received a $150 gift card to help with pet food and basics, and ongoing discounted veterinary care through the charity’s local veterinary partners.
Maybe some irony was at play as a very large Shar-Pei mix, aptly named Maximus, was waiting for his perfect human match to find and rescue him.
Brandon finds his oversized lap dog
Although shelters can be a stressful place for animals, Brandon was able to see that Maximus was a big dog with an even bigger heart.
“Max is such a loving dog,” says Brandon. “He’s big, but he still has a lapdog personality, but not like most big dogs. He loves to snuggle and be right beside me as much as he can.”
Fortunately for both man and dog, Maximus isn’t a total couch potato. The big dog loves going for walks and playing fetch.
“He’s made me get out more and become more active,” says Brandon, adding, “I’m so glad I have the chance to make his life better.”
“I was looking for a friend that could both run with me and just relax at home. Since I adopted Maximus, so much has changed,” says the Navy man. “I have such a great friend, and there is nothing I would change.”
Saving an adult dog has proved to be an extremely rewarding experience for Brandon, one that he recommends to other military personnel and veterans who may be considering adding a pet to their families as well. He was “sold” on adopting through Pets for Patriots for reasons both practical and emotional.
“What sold me was the support that Pets for Patriots offers with the gift cards, discount on adoption fees and even just calling to check up on me from time to time,” he says.
Now, like the friends who previously adopted through Pets for Patriots and recommended it to Brandon, he’s doing the same in turn.
“Definitely adopt through Pets for Patriots,” he says. “My life has changed so much since I adopted Max, it’s certainly one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.”
Have you ever adopted an adult or harder-to-place pet after considering a puppy or kitten?