Rescue dog helps military couple cope with frequent deployments and PTSD

Rescue dog helps military couple cope with frequent deployments and PTSD

Tyrie was looking for a way to help his wife weather his frequent deployments and her Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It happens that a shelter dog with anxieties of her own would be the pair’s perfect match.

Coastie on the move

For more than a decade Tyrie has served in the Coast Guard. Like many enlistees he wanted to learn valuable knowledge and skills that would serve him both now and later in life.

“I’m currently enlisted in the Coast Guard,” he says. “I originally joined with the want to develop a foundation of skills, but grew to appreciate the service.”

Still, Tyrie envisions a day when his Coast Guard experience helps him transition to a career that allows him to spend more time at home. Currently he is subject to frequent deployments.

“I do have a longing to go to the DOD side and do more,” he says in reference to the Department of Defense. “Currently I am at a unit that calls for me to deploy often.”

Many people do not realize that members of the Coast Guard are subject to deployment. All United States armed forces can be deployed as part of their routine duties, in times of war, and in support of national emergencies or humanitarian missions.

Being deployed often means being far from home and loved ones. Tyrie recounts the sacrifice of just one of his many frequent deployments.

“I was stationed in the Arabian Gulf for a year,” he says, “which challenged me as an independent duty technician, and pulling me away from my family, and doing a mission that had high visibility for the United States and the world.”

Currently Tyrie is stationed in National City, California, where he and his wife recently moved from Temecula. They found a wonderful home that turns out to be just perfect for a pup who would make this young military couple whole.

Saving more overlooked animals

Military life can be very challenging for those who are left to manage the home front. There are countless organizations, social networks, and base support services for military families.

However, nothing can fill completely the void of a loved one ordered to deploy.

The stress of Tyrie’s frequent deployments was particularly hard on his wife. But it inspired the couple to adopt a companion pet, none other than a dog named Sweetie.

The adult Belgian Malinois mix was in the care of our partners San Diego Humane Society and SPCA.

Since 2014 the organization has waived adoption fees for veterans in our program who rescue eligible dogs and cats. We collaborate with their primary shelter locations in San Diego, Oceanside, and Escondido, as well as through satellite adoption centers in pet stores across San Diego county.

Tyrie is clear on what motivated him to adopt the homeless dog.

“My wife suffers from PTSD,” he shares, “so to help her with me being gone on deployments we decided to introduce Sweetie into our lives.”

Staff at San Diego Humane Society and SPCA told Tyrie about our companion pet adoption program for military veterans. Our mission to save those more overlooked dogs and cats struck a chord.

“It caused me to look at more vulnerable animals as opposed to the purebred or non-rescue animals,” he says.

Sweetie is a large, adult dog and met our criteria. But her breed mix typically requires considerable physical and mental exercise, which limits the field of prospective adopters.

The big dog’s considerable energy was just what the couple wanted. So two days after being approved into our program, Tyrie adopted Sweetie and brought her home.

Sweetie lives up to her name

Sweetie wasted little time forming close bonds with her new family. She has become a comforting confidant to her human mom as well as a reliable workout partner for Tyrie.

“Sweetie is a welcome addition into our family,” he says. “As my wife suffers from PTSD from her past, Sweetie is an excellent companion for her, and a great running and hiking buddy for me.”

Above all, the rescue dog has lowered the anxiety level in the couple’s household. Tyrie is assured that his wife has a trusty guardian by her side, making his frequent deployments that much less stressful.

The impacts of the big dog’s presence are real – and noticeable.

“My wife has definitely become more confident and positive since we have received Sweetie,” Tyrie shares. “They bring each other up as Sweetie had her own anxieties. This has caused me to stress less when I’m at work and has given me reassurance when I’m deployed.”

Stressing less

Sweetie has embraced her place in her new family, but not without some challenge. At first she showed signs of separation anxiety, which can lead to unhealthy and destructive behaviors if not addressed.

Tyrie suspects that Sweetie’s anxieties are the result of some prior trauma in her life. Perhaps this is why the big dog has proven to be such a compassionate companion to his wife.

Now several months into her adoption Sweetie has settled in to a comfortable routine. She has even developed novel ways to communicate her needs.

“She does this thing when she wants attention she will take her paw and attempt to drag your hand, so she forces you to pet her,” Tyrie says. “She also slinks her ears to the back and dives her head down into you.”

Tyrie is glad that he decided to adopt and not shop for a pet. Working through our program helped him appreciate that there are wonderful animals in shelters, through no faults of their own.

Still, Sweetie’s adoption feels very personal. Her steady presence allows Tyrie to cope with frequent deployments that take him far from home, while his wife gained a trusty, faithful companion.

Tyrie believes that Pets for Patriots had a meaningful impact on his family, as well as on his ability to face a demanding job. And he now appreciates that healing often happens at both ends of the leash.

“It is a great program that can show people that all animals need love and attention,” he says, “and that not only people can feel the effects of PTSD.”


  1. Mary Eaton

    Heartwarming share. Thank you for deciding to adopt and not shop!!!!!!! The name you’ve given her is a perfect fit.
    It’s a win-win for all three of you. May the adventures be many and cuddles TNTC.
    Thank you for your service Tyrie.

  2. Panda J.

    Thank you for your service, Tyrie. And thank you and your wife for taking a chance on Sweetie, so many people shy away from adopting large breeds. They are just as deserving of a loving home as the smaller dogs. God Bless you and your family, stay safe.

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