Rescued Pit Bull returns the favor by saving disabled Navy veteran from depression


An adult rescued Pit Bull changed life for the better for a Navy veteran disabled by chronic pain and depression.

In the Navy and loving “every minute”

Growing up in California, John was a young man unsure of what he wanted to do with his life. He was a good student in high school and upon graduation enlisted in the Navy to give himself a few more years to figure out his future. He jokes that he chose the Navy because he had heard it had the best food and easiest work relative to other branches of the military. He was assigned to a troop carrier and served as a quartermaster, which at the time – the early 1970’s – involved navigating ships.

John loved “every minute” he spent in the Navy, mostly for the many travel opportunities it provided. After a deployment to Vietnam, his ship made stops in China, Hong Kong, Samoa, Australia and a number of South Pacific islands before returning to the United States. The Navy veteran’s favorite activity was “swim call,” when his ship stopped in the middle of the ocean with no land in sight, and servicemen were allowed free time to swim in the open ocean.

The veteran enjoyed visits to Europe and South America during his Navy service. And true to what he had heard before enlisting, John declares that “the Navy always had the best food.”

For the love of Pit Bull

After his tour of duty, John became a long-distance truck driver and during the course of this 20-year career, logged over three million miles traversing the United States. As a young man, he was a single parent to two sons.

Having always had a dog or cat as a child and later as an adult, John acquired a Pit Bull when his sons were young. He fell in love with the breed, sometimes known as “nanny dogs” for their reputation as caretakers to young children. The family’s first Pit Bull was a very playful and fun family pet who got along with everyone, people and pets alike. The dog was protective of his children, yet gentle and playful with them at the same time. Samantha

John feels badly that over time Pit Bulls have become characterized as a “bully breed.” He believes that the reputation is unjust since the dogs were not bred originally to be mean, but “humans made them mean” through dogfighting, and irresponsible breeding and ownership.

John passed on his love for the breed to his sons, both of whom have Pit Bulls as family pets. In early 2012, John’s then six year-old granddaughter presented him with a Pit Bull puppy as a gift. He had the dog for only seven months when it was stolen from his yard.

A port in the storm helps make pet adoption an affordable reality

The Navy veteran was devastated by the loss of his only companion. He began searching nearby shelters to adopt another dog, but found that most adoption fees – sometimes over $100 – were too costly for him.

After two months of searching, John found Butterscotch, a four year-old stray Pit Bull, at the Meridian Valley Humane Society. When he asked about the cost to adopt her, the shelter staff told him that the adoption fee would be waived if John adopted the dog through Pets for Patriots, a national companion pet adoption program dedicated to pairing the most overlooked shelter pets – adults, large breed dogs and special needs animals – with veterans and active duty military.

Even though Superstorm Sandy put Pets for Patriots’ national headquarters out of commission for months, John’s application was approved promptly and he received a $150 contribution from the charity’s Veterans’ Pet Food Bank Program soon after bringing home Butterscotch. John and Samantha

Since adopting the dog and renaming her Samantha, John says his “life has improved by 100%.” Due to a work-related accident which ended his trucking career nearly 20 years ago, John suffers from depression and debilitating physical pain on a daily basis.

“Samantha has totally livened me up,” says John.

The big dog wakes up the Navy veteran every morning at 7:30 by licking his face.

“I have a purpose for getting out of bed every morning,” he says, “she has to be fed and taken out.”

John believes that both he and Samantha could stand to lose a little weight, so the Navy veteran tries to keep an active schedule, getting outside whenever the weather allows, walking and playing tug, catch or any other game Samantha wants to play.

The activity level at John’s house has ramped up even more since he recently added a cat to the family. Samantha and the cat play and even sleep together, but it’s the cat who rules the roost. As John observes, “the cat is the bully at my house!”

John urges anyone considering adopting a pet to do so through Pets for Patriots – as soon as possible.

“It’s the best thing you could ever do for yourself,” he says.

For anyone suffering from depression or a physical disability, John believes that “owning a pet is the best therapy anyone could have.”

Having found his four-legged therapist at a local shelter, John is a firm believer in pet adoption and wishes that every shelter animal finds a loving, forever home.

“Don’t forget,” the Navy veteran says, “ain’t nothing wrong with a pound dog.”


  1. Elizabeth

    We linked to your blog and quoted a small section of this post on our blog! Hope you don’t mind!

    • Beth Zimmerman

      Not at all, Elizabeth; we love New Leash and appreciate the shout-out!

  2. Beth Zimmerman

    Thanks for your kind words, Greg, and for your volunteerism helping animals like Butterscotch/Samantha find their loving homes!

  3. Greg Harshman

    I volunteer at the Meridian Valley Humane Society and I remember Butterscotch Samantha and she was a real doll! I am so happy John and Samantha found each other. We are so lucky to have Pets for Patriots as a partner. What a truly wonderful program!

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