There are few among us who would not want to be a better human being. For one Navy veteran all it took was opening his heart to a Pit Bull who needed a home.
From sea to shining sea
David has been serving in the Navy since 2018. Like many active duty personnel he has felt the unique sense of loneliness that often accompanies military life.
For the first few years following his enlistment David served on board the USS Portland in San Diego. In 2021 the young sailor received orders to serve at Fort Meade in Maryland, where the Navy is a tenant of the sprawling Army installation.
There is little doubt that David has acquired many memories during his ongoing career in the Navy. So perhaps it is surprising that his most poignant memories concern a rescue dog who, by his own account, has made him a better human being.
“My most memorable experience from my time in service,” he shares, “is adopting Eleanor.”
Helping veterans, saving pets
Since his relocation to the East coast David has contemplated adopting a companion pet. He shared this dream with a another service member and, soon thereafter, fulfilled it.
“I chose this program after I told a fellow Navy sailor about wanting to adopt a pet,” he recalls, “and how this program helps active duty and veterans receive help in the form of a fur baby.”
It is undeniable that adopting a homeless animal is lifesaving. The act of adoption spares the most vulnerable dogs and cats a life of chronic homelessness or the prospect of death if no one adopts them.
David sought to save such a life. However, he did not expect that doing so would make him a better, more compassionate human being.
It was middle December 2022 when David was approved into our program. With the easy part behind him, next came the more daunting responsibility of finding the right pet among so many who are in need.
A forever home
At the time, Dior was a four year-old Pit Bull mix in the care of Baltimore Humane Society. Since 2013 the shelter waives adoption fees for veterans in our program and offers them 10 percent off wellness care at their on-site veterinary clinic.
In Dior, David saw the perfect four-legged companion. He was inspired to not only save her life, but to give her a wonderful life. Already he was feeling like a better human being.
So in the early days of January 2023 David and newly named Eleanor were adopted. They joined thousands of veterans and shelter animals paired through our companion pet adoption program for military veterans.
“I wanted to help Eleanor by giving her a forever home,” he says. “I would tell every veteran or active duty person that this program is the best one for adopting a fur baby in your life, and how nice the people within the organization are.”
Adopting Eleanor has opened David’s eyes to the plight of homeless animals.
Each year, on average, the population of unwanted dogs and cats who are killed for lack of anyone to adopt them would fill all Major League Baseball stadiums combined.
Thankfully Eleanor would not be among them. Like many adopted pets she seems to know that she was given a second chance at life. In return she brings joy to her savior, even inspiring him to help other dogs and cats in need.
“What I love most about Eleanor is her ability to always be in a good mood, and she’s always excited to see me,” David says, “and encourages me to help more animals in my area.”
David and his new charge enjoy many of life’s little pleasures together. Both like to take long walks and explore new places, for example.
It is through these everyday activities of everyday life that David has felt like a changed man.
“Eleanor has caused me to be more active in the last few months since I’ve adopted her,” he says. “She has allowed me to become a more caring person, and to open my heart to something other than myself.”