Rescued adult dog saves Coast Guard veteran from depression

A rescued dog always seems to know when it’s been given another chance, and often returns the favor. This is the case with Charlotte, an adult dog who rescued her savior, a Coast Guard veteran, from the grips of his depression.

Al is a Coast Guard veteran who was honorably adopted last June by Charlotte, a four year-old Pug-Beagle mix (“Puggle”), at Pets for Patriots’ adoption partner Michigan Humane Society.

An avid diver, Al joined the Coast Guard in the late 1970’s. When he decided to enlist, it was the lifesaving aspects of the job that attracted him to the Coast Guard. Among the memorable events of his service were his tours of Antarctica. While the Coast Guard was hard work, Al enjoyed dives both on- and off-duty with his military buddies in Hawaii, the Polynesian Islands and elsewhere on his way to Antarctica.

Growing up in Michigan, Al and his family always owned dogs. His favorite childhood pet was a cockapoo named Smokey, who followed Al everywhere when he was home.

As an adult, this Coast Guard veteran thought about, but never owned a dog. His interest piqued last spring when he watched a segment about Pets for Patriots on Detroit’s Fox 2 News.

“They did a really thorough job explaining how the Pets for Patriots program works. After watching that piece, I thought ‘why not me?’”

Particularly appealing to him was how Pets for Patriots makes pet adoption and ownership affordable for veterans.

“I’m on disability, so the adoption discount and the discount for veterinary services are a big help to me.”

In June, the Coast Guard veteran visited his local Pets for Patriots adoption partner, the Michigan Humane Society (MHS) in Westland, to search for his new best friend. There he saw for the first time a Puggle, which moments earlier had found a new home. It seemed like such a good dog that it inspired Al to adopt a Puggle as well.

Since no other Puggles were available at the time, Al left his contact information with Gary Roush, a dual MHS and Pets for Patriots volunteer, and requested that he be notified if any other Puggles were brought into the shelter.

Just a few weeks later, Al’s request was granted. Gary called him to let him know that two Puggles, Wilbur and Charlotte, had arrived at the humane society. Al fell in love with Charlotte – at 22 pounds, the more petite of the two dogs – and decided to give her a forever home.

Al immediately realized the benefits of adopting a mature dog. Apparently Charlotte had been house-trained and received some basic obedience training in her previous home.

“She’s well-mannered and loves to give kisses. She knows I’m a pushover, but really, I have no complaints.”

Over the past few months, Al has found that Charlotte has made his life a lot more pleasant.

“She’s changed my life. I enjoy our walks, spending time outdoors with her, watching TV with her.” As a bonus, Charlotte has become sensitized to Al’s bouts with depression, trying harder during tough times to lift his spirits.

“I couldn’t ask for a better buddy. She’s the best girl friend I’ve ever had.”

To other veterans considering adopting a companion pet, Al provides this advice:

“I couldn’t be happier with the difference that Charlotte has made in my life. Pets for Patriots made the pet adoption process a really positive experience for me. Get over to a Pets for Patriots shelter and find your best buddy today.”

How does your pet lift your spirits?


  1. debb

    Since my mom passed, her Pittie Junior has helped my 82 yo dad pull himself out of his natural depression at losing his life mate. Thank you Junior.

  2. Adrian Meli

    Pets for Patriots (and Beth), what a wonderful story-thank you for sharing. Al and Charlotte sound like a great team that will as many years of fond memories ahead of them. Your organization continues to do an amazing amount of good. We look forward to continuing to follow your progress. Thank you again for everything you are doing.

  3. Jim Petoskey

    I did not receive a dog from Pets for Patriots but I did receive one from Operation Wolfhound, a organization that trains the Russian wolfhounds for PTSD Veterans. In spite of the recent discouraging actions by the Veterans administration to ban Service dogs excpet those certified by one organization, my dog, Bocelli, has made life possible to live again. He detects panic attacks and go into action. My sugar drops, he gets me to sit down even before I feel it gets too low. But the proudest moment in my life was when a VA Police Officer in Fargo, North Dakota took exception with my dog being a service dog. After explaining the ADA to him, he disagreed even after offering to show the act which I carry with me. After I ascertained if I was being arrested or detained, he replied I had not so I walked around the officer to comtinue my pre-surgery physical. With both heels of his hands, forcefully planted them into my chest stopping my motion. My buddy Bochelli, acted as he was taught, he got between me and the aggressor and was backing me away from the treat. No aggression, not even a growl. I trust him to no end as I can walk freely about, I am not secluded in my residence as I once was. I am able to start to enjoy life again. He knows when I am feeling depressed and acts accordingly. Nightmares, he wakes me up. My VA appointments, thats another story, I am not allowed to bring him into the hospital even though I was given a prescription for such animal from a VA Psychiatrist. It cost them nothing, I flew to California where he was trained, received training and flew back, all on my dime. But, Bocelli is worth every dime I spent and more. So, I am a big supporter of these organizations who make these dogs possible.

    Thank you

    • Pets for Patriots

      Jim, first of all – thank you for your service.

      At Pets for Patriots, we hear many similar stories of the life-saving abilities of “ordinary” adopted shelter pets, for our veterans with PTSD, depression and other psychological issues. Even when not specifically trained like Bochelli, these dogs and cats have an intuitive sense of when their owner is in distress.

      As for the irony of the VA not permitting your service dog on premises (we believe in violation of the ADA) when he was prescribed by your psychiatrist, well, that’s another story altogether! Hopefully one day the government will abide by the laws it creates for the rest of us.

      Many thanks for sharing your experiences with us!

  4. Jacqueline Samper

    I want you all to know its a great program! I’m really happy that you found the best and unconditional friend a DOG,they are really the best medicine! me and my husband adopted a few days ago a German shepherd through Pets for Patriots and we are really very happy to see how she has improved the bondage with us and feels love.unfortunately a sick human being abused her up to the point that she is tremendously afraid of men but with Gods help and love she will be free of all this harm.

    Hope you continue to enjoy your new friend!

    Jacqueline Samper

  5. Gary Roush

    It is my pleasure and honor to be a volunteer representative for both the Pets for Patriots and Michigan Humane Society organizations. I have the wonderful opportunity to help patriots like Al and pets like Charlotte find each other and become the best buddies and the life-long support they both desire and deserve. Any of you Patriots in Michigan that are looking for a new best friend, your buddy awaits at the Michigan Humane Society. Contact Pets for Patriots and get started, I’m here to help.


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