Scott enjoyed a fulfilling Navy career and home life until a series of events left him drowning in loneliness. His lifeline came in the form of an abused rescue dog who navigated them both to calmer waters.
Life at sea
For the better part of two decades the Navy has been Scott’s world. He retires in January, 2018 and is preparing for the transition from military to civilian life. In anticipation of this major change he reflects upon his long and fulfilling Navy career as an aviation boatswain’s mate, chief petty officer.
“I have been in Chicago, Florida, Maryland, Virginia,” he says, “and have made seven deployments. I work on the flight deck of air capable ships in the Navy.”
Scott believes his most important – and memorable – experiences are those formed through the camaraderie with his fellow sailors.
“What sticks in my mind is being able to help mentor someone with wide eyes and little knowledge of life, and see and get to watch them grow into men and women,” he shares. “I give them all my phone number and I get calls all the time asking for help with something, and it makes me smile.”
Although Scott’s Navy career has been gratifying, his personal life was another matter. In a very short period of time his world turned upside down; he lost everyone close to him.
“In a span of a month got separated and had two dogs die. The Basset Hound of eight years got cancer and passed away, and the Irish setter of 14 years died eight days later,” Scott says. “I had a three-story house and it was beyond lonely in it after all of this.”
The Navy veteran had gone from a full house to a painfully empty one in a matter of weeks. Like many people facing such abject loneliness he decided to adopt a companion pet. Yet little did he know that his salvation would come in the form of an abused rescue dog who was in a world of hurt as well.
“I was in a bad spot in life and needed someone to come home to,” he explains.
Although Scott could have adopted a pet on his own, he chose to do so through Pets for Patriots.
Our organization is dedicated towards military veterans from WWII to active duty personnel. We often work with people who are experiencing emotional hardship and who find renewed purpose with a rescued dog or cat.
“Who better than Pets for Patriots to sort of understand what I might be going through as a military member,” Scott says.
Abused rescue dog to the rescue
The Navy veteran’s search started online – and ended almost as soon as it began.
“I knew I needed to do something,” Scott says, “so I got on a website and the first dog I saw was Zoey.”
At the time Zoey was a two year-old English Mastiff who was saved from a horrible existence. She met our adoption criteria and, more important, filled the void that had suddenly taken over Scott’s life.
Yet due to her rough beginnings, Zoey had never learned good canine manners. Scott sent her to an obedience school to learn basic commands, as well as on- and off-leash walking.
The big dog has had an even bigger impact on her veteran’s life and well-being.
“What hasn’t she changed,” Scott asks aloud. “[We] found each other in bad spots of our lives. She had been abused and relinquished to a rescue. Once she learned that I wasn’t going anywhere she warmed up and we started living life together.”
Scott sums up the impact that Zoey has had in his life with three simple words: trust, dedication and devotion. And he recommends other veterans adopt through Pets for Patriots as well.
“Do it!! I did and have no regrets,” he says, “and I will do it again in the future.”
New dog, new life, new wife
It would be fair to say that both the big, abused rescue dog and her Navy veteran are works in progress.
As Zoey becomes more confident and balanced, she helps Scott feel more grounded. And her progress is possible only because of the time, love and passion he devotes to her recovery.
“She taught me patience, and the joy of watching and working with her to see her grow and trust. I taught her trust, how to swim,” he says, “how to ride on a boat. Barking and running around the boat after the dolphins is her favorite thing.”
Scott and his four-legged battle buddy share nearly every adventure – together. Despite her size, it seems that there are few activities that do not involve Zoey.
“She loves sitting in the seat in the back of the truck with her head out the window,” Scott says.
Zoey has even weighed in on Scott’s love life. The big dog lets him know when someone he is seeing does not meet with her approval. Scott would take Zoey’s opinions to heart.
“When I would let someone I was dating meeting her she was standoffish and would bark and not come near them,” he says.
Luckily, Scott was not destined for eternal bachelorhood. One day Zoey met the woman whom she thought deserving of her savior.
“I met Tracy – now my wife – and said, ‘Well let’s see what Zoey says about her.’ She was the first woman I introduced her to that she didn’t bark at, she instead ran over to her and sat down and wagged her tail.”
The Navy veteran got the message.
“I said, ‘Okay, okay Zoey, I got it, I got it,'” he shares. “Now I have a dog and wife who are totally inseparable.”