Older animals are among the hardest for shelters to place. But one senior Pit Bull’s puppy-like ways endeared her to a veteran Navy Seabee who had come to visit another dog.
On the water, on the road
Anthony served for 10 years with the Navy Seabees.
The moniker is a nickname for the United States Naval Construction Battalions. These professionals are responsible for the design and construction of both temporary and permanent Naval infrastructure around the world.
Jason was assigned to various bases around the country over the course of his career, including Gulfport, Mississippi and Virginia Beach, Virginia. While at the latter he served with an amphibious unit as well as with a dive unit doing underwater construction.
“For the most part my time was spent as a mechanic for heavy equipment such as dozers, excavators, cranes, and loaders,” he recalls. “We also spent time working on HMMWV, all variants of MTVRs, JERRVS, and MRAPS. It was something that I enjoyed doing and since separating has allowed me to have a successful career.”
The acronyms refer to High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles, Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacements, Joint Engineering Rapid Response Vehicles, and Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected light tactical vehicles, respectively.
Anthony has since separated from the military and parlayed his experience into a career as a mobile engineer. When not traveling for work, the Navy veteran lives in upstate New York with his wife and two children.
“I have an 11 year-old girl who plays travel softball,” the former Seabee says proudly, “and a nine year-old boy who enjoys playing music with him drum set, and soon to be learning the stringed bass.”
Seabee on the high seas
A decade of military service makes for many memories. However one nearly perilous experience sticks in Anthony’s mind to this day.
“When I was with the amphibious unit we were out operating in some conditions we probably shouldn’t have been, but it happens,” he says. “We were trying to help keep an LCU from breaching, but the waves in the surf zone were so large it kept pushing us off and moving us to the point that we thought the equipment we were on might roll.”
An LCU is a Landing Craft Utility boat that transports both personnel and equipment from ship to shore.
Training and teamwork saved the ship from the rough seas. The young Seabee realizes that the situation could have ended very badly.
“It was a good bonding experience for our crew and brought us all together,” Anthony shares, “and made our future deployment and operations a breeze.”
Pets for Patriots
Anthony has led a busy life since separating from service. Still, he and his wife thought that it was time to adopt a companion pet.
The Navy veteran travels occasionally for work and the couple’s two children are of an age when they could contribute to a pet’s care.
“With being gone from time to time we wanted to get a pet to help keep my family company,” he says. “Plus we love animals – so it’s always just a win-win.”
Anthony visited Lollypop Farm, Humane Society of Greater Rochester. In 2011 Lollypop Farm became among the first to join our free shelter partner program and offers half-priced adoption fees to our veterans.
“Pets for Patriots was actually recommended to us when we were at the humane society, as they worked with veterans,” Anthony recalls. “So I reached out and had a very positive experience with them.”
In March 2019 the veteran Navy Seabee applied to our program and was promptly approved. However, it would be almost another two months til Anthony found a dog for his young, active family.
Hook, line, and sinker
Anthony did not intend to adopt a senior pet. Oaklee had other plans.
At the time Oaklee was a 10 year-old Pit Bull mix with numerous strikes against her.
Oaklee was an older pet when most adopters want younger animals. At more than 50 pounds she was a large dog, which many adopters either do not prefer or cannot accommodate in their homes. And as a Pit Bull-type dog – itself a label that refers to multiple dog breeds – she bore the weight of decades of breed discrimination.
“We had originally gone to the humane society for a different dog, and during our meet and greet it just didn’t work out,” Anthony shares. “So afterward we were looking around and saw Oaklee, so we asked.”
The staff at Lollypop Farm arranged for the Navy Seabee and his family to visit with Oaklee. And during that meeting the old dog reeled in her catch.
“She was so full of love and joy it was amazing,” Anthony recalls. “Once we met her we knew we wanted to adopt her.”
Young at heart
It is not unusual for adopters to be surprised at the vitality of mature dogs and cats. Perhaps the loving embrace of a new home is rejuvenating. However, misperceptions of senior animals are more likely to blame.
We encourage potential adopters to learn about the benefits of adopting older pets.
Anthony and his family discovered that older does not mean old. Oaklee has a tremendous zest for life and her joy is nothing short of infectious.
“While now she is currently 12 years old, you’d be hard pressed to tell that looking at her as she is just so happy and always loving and wanting to play. It always just brightens even your worst day getting to lay with her or spend time with her,” he says.
Little is known about how Oaklee became homeless at the mature age of 10. Like most shelter animals she likely had a family – maybe more than one – over the course of her days. And now she is with the only family that matters.
Anthony remains in awe of his senior pup’s spirit. While she was not the dog he initially hoped to adopt, Oaklee is all that he could ever hope for in a family pet.
“I love that even at 12 years old if I pull out and tennis ball and just bounce it once,” he explains, “Oaklee is instantly up and wanting to play like a puppy.”