A Marine Corps veteran found that his military training did not prepare him for the most challenging battle of his life: losing his father to cancer. Yet it was a rescue dog in need of saving as well who proved to be the answer to his grief.
Born to serve
Since he was five years-old Jim knew that he wanted to be in the Marines.
One day a friend’s father, who happened to be a Marine Corps recruiter, spoke at his school’s career day. In 1996 and once he was of age, Jim enlisted in the Corps in Quantico, Virginia.
Jim completed his tour of duty and received an honorable discharge. He would ultimately settle in Florida, where he currently lives and works. The veteran is part of a close-knit family that spends a lot of quality time together.
“We always have family night every Sunday night,” he says.
The ultimate battle
Few things in life prepare us for losing a beloved family member. Yet Jim was faced with the reality that his father was dying from cancer – a battle he lost in September of 2017.
“My dad died of cancer,” Jim shares, “and about a month after I saw Max on Big Dog Ranch [Rescue] website and knew he was the one.”
Since 2012, the rescue has partnered with us to find loving military homes for the most overlooked dogs in their care. Veterans in our program receive a steeply discounted adoption fee of $50 from the rescue, in addition to other cost-saving benefits provided by Pets for Patriots.
The Marine Corps veteran heard about our companion pet adoption program through a friend. Jim decided to adopt through us and our partnership with Big Dog Ranch Rescue because our mission supports not just homeless pets, but veterans, too.
“Even just reducing the adoption fee helps a lot,” says Jim.
Max was a then two year-old German Shepherd/Labrador mix in need of a hero. Little could Jim know that this rescue dog would in turn become a hero to him.
For the love of a rescue dog
Like every faithful friend, the rescue dog lets Jim know that he is missed when he leaves the house. He is always ready to welcome his Marine home.
“Even if I have a bad day Max greets me at the door when I come home,” Jim says.
Perhaps what the grieving veteran values most are the moments of levity that Max brings into his world. Max’s silly antics make it impossible not to smile and revel in his well-deserved freedom.
“He is very goofy and playful,” Jim says. “Sleeps in many weird positions, and when he sleeps on his back he snores.”
Welcoming Max into Jim’s life has done wonders for the Marine Corps veteran and his family. And all the rescue dog has to do is be himself – no special training required.
For individuals who neither need nor qualify for a service animal, a companion dog or cat can work wonders. And be no less lifesaving.
“Max has helped a lot,” Jim says. “He has brought not only me, but my brother and mother comfort and love.”