Older dog anchors Navy veteran living with depression

older dog anchors Navy veteran from depression

At six years of age Cossack was an older dog waiting for his hero in a Virginia shelter. Little could he know that he would save a Navy veteran from a depression that threatened to derail her post-military life.

Around the world with the United States Navy

Molly enlisted in the Navy in 2007 and served until 2012. During her service she was stationed out of Norfolk, Virginia on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower CVN 69, where her job was launching aircraft as an Aviation Boatswain mate – Equipment.

Serving in the Navy was exciting for the young sailor, as her obligations took her around the globe. older dog anchors Navy veteran from depression

“Having the opportunity to travel the world was the best experience of my life,” she shares. “Seeing different parts of the world and learning to appreciate the smaller, finer things in life.”

In 2012 Molly separated from the Navy with an Honorable discharge and attended college, where she received a degree as a certified surgical technician.

Life seemed to be going well for the Navy veteran, who was unaware that a storm was on the horizon.

Navy veteran looks for love in all the right places

By all accounts Molly had it made; the world was her oyster. In time, however, she became aware of changes that were as unsettling as they were unwelcome.

“When I got out of the service I was living by myself and slowly noticed I wasn’t the same person,” Molly says. “My friends were still serving and had just left for deployment.”

Compounding her isolation, Molly had no family in Virginia; they were all in Indiana. The Navy veteran needed an always-there friend – an anchor to ground her to a new and more positive reality. She visited the Virginia Beach SPCA, a Pets for Patriots adoption and veterinary partner that offers discounts for both pet adoption and pet medical care.

older dog anchors Navy veteran from depression

“I went to go look for a companion,” she said, “and fell in love with Cossack!”

Cossack was a six year-old red Pit Bull mix with little hope for adoption. He was older, he was a large dog, and he was a breed type that suffers countless cruelties because they are misunderstood. Most military bases ban Pit Bulls, as do many cities and municipalities.

Molly did not see a dog deserving of contempt, fear or discrimination; she saw an opportunity to love and be loved.

“It made me realize that not only did I need someone to save me, but I needed to rescue Cossack from living in a shelter for the rest of his life, since he was already six years old,” she says. “Older pets and pets with disabilities get looked over, and I truly believe we saved each other!”

An anchor in the storm

As of this writing it has been more than three years since Molly and Cossack were adopted. The pair moved to Indiana to be closer to Molly’s family, where together they live with Molly’s boyfriend.

At nine years of age Cossack is a senior dog. Yet even at the time of adoption he was a mature pup which, for Molly, was a distinct benefit. She appreciates that older pets are among those eligible for adoption through Pets for Patriots and our national network of shelter and rescue partners.

“Adopting through this program truly helps pets that are older and with disabilities have a chance of a new life,” she says, adding that the temperament of older pets is often more suitable to veterans who are looking for a reassuring presence in their lives.

older dog anchors Navy veteran from depression

In this and so many ways, Cossack does not disappoint.

“I love his personality. He truly has a sense of humor and is super smart,” Molly says. “Cuddling is my favorite after a long day of work.”

Giggles and cuddles aside, the Navy veteran credits her older companion dog with saving her life and unmooring her from the grips of a deepening depression.

“I adopted Cossack in 2013 and he completely changed my life for the better. Cossack made me get out of the house rather than falling into depression even further,” the Navy veteran shares. “He has made me get back into shape and just truly saved my life.”


  1. Micheal Webster

    Congratulations on rescuing your forever human. You found a special one. She is broken and needs special attention. And I am sure you are up for the task. Sometimes she may not always be the best human so you will have to be forgiving. But regardless of anything life throws at the two of you Molly will rest assuredly be there for you though thick and thin. So again Cossack thank you for rescuing this veteran.


  2. Gigi Young

    Molly, Thank you for your service to our country and thank you, in particular, for adopting Cossack. As someone who has volunteered at Virginia Beach SPCA for a number of years and as a lover of “Pitties” (especially the more mature ones) it makes me so happy that you looked beyond the myth and found love. They really are some of the best cuddlers and “kissers” around. Because my Pit bull, Roxanne (a rescue), was constantly giving kisses… my (retired) Navy Cmdr father used to say: “You gotta love a gal who can’t hold her licker”. Perhaps (a tad) non-pc… but still funny and appropriate. Who knows, perhaps I even ran across you while you were “looking for love”… I’ve always been fond of promoting and bringing out the Pits first, to show off what they’re really like
    outside the kennel. Thanks for saving Cossack!

  3. mary

    It’s all good, I’m sure everyone would agree!

  4. Heather

    Molly, Cossack is as lucky to have you as you are to have him, just like we are, we love you both!

  5. gail

    Encouraging account, Molly. I adopted a 6 yr old female boxer in April and im having the same joyous benefits as you have here described.
    Pets first Patriots helped so much by just being supportive of my adoption of an older, beautiful and super smart friend.
    My “Sweetie” is wonderful and we love each other so very much, now. We both have been rescued as I suffer with aging and depression related issues, too.
    This exchange is encouraging and making my heart happy, this morning.
    Thanks Molly, Cossack and Pets for Patriots!

  6. Mary

    Hi, Molly!

    Glad you found Cossack and he rescued you. Thank you for your service. My Rocky is my antidepressant – also adopted thru P4P!

  7. Betty


    So glad you were able to rescue Cossack (and he was able to rescue you dear).

Give with Confidence

candid platinum transparency 2023
candid platinum transparency 2023
candid platinum transparency 2023
candid platinum transparency 2023
Petco Foundation

Shop 1800PetMeds for all of your pet’s health needs and we’ll get 10% of your purchase!

Shop BISSELL for your home cleaning needs and they will donate 10% of your purchase to us!

Because a shelter is not a home

Long-term shelter pets available for adoption