Cricket was eight years old when she became homeless. But the senior rescue dog fulfilled a young veteran’s dream and made his new life complete.
From aloha to hoorah
Paul grew up in Oahu, Hawaii. His twin passions were surfing and playing the tenor saxophone. But after graduating high school he was ready for a new challenge.
In 2012 Paul turned 18 and enlisted in the Marine Corps. He was stationed at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, where he served as an aviation ordnance technician.
These professionals are tasked with the maintenance, testing, inspection, repair, and loading of aviation ordnance on Marine Corps aircraft.
Paul served at Camp Pendleton for the entirety of his contract and separated from the Marines in 2016.
The young veteran soon learned that his particular specialty did not translate to a job in the civilian world as easily as he had hoped.
Riding a new wave
Although Paul spent his childhood in the ocean he would find his livelihood in the trees. After leaving the Marine Corps he earned a forestry degree from a Pennsylvania university.
A few months later Paul’s girlfriend, Whitney, accepted a job offer in Annapolis, Maryland.
The couple moved and Paul started his career as a climbing arborist. These professionals often work for municipalities or utilities. They scale tall trees and remove limbs, diagnose disease, and perform other tasks to keep trees healthy and safe in their environments.
When he is not climbing trees Paul enjoys playing Dungeons and Dragons, and tinkering with his 3-D printer. However, a senior rescue dog would soon add a new dimension to his already fulfilling life.
Age is just a number
Paul always wanted to adopt a dog and knew right away that an older dog would be best.
“I’ve always wanted a dog, but didn’t have enough time to train a puppy,” he says.
So when it came time to look for a pet Paul made the responsible decision. He would search for an older dog who already knew basic manners and was accustomed to household living.
Whitney was in agreement with Paul’s plan to add a more mature dog to their lives. The couple started their search online and soon learned about Pets for Patriots from a partner shelter website.
However, it would be two months after Paul was approved by us that he and Whitney found their perfect pup at Senior Dog Sanctuary of Maryland.
Since 2018 the sanctuary has offered fee-waived adoptions to veterans in our program. They help more mature dogs find loving homes and, to date, we have almost 50 such adoptions together.
Paul and Whitney both favored large dogs and were instantly drawn to Cricket, a then eight year-old chocolate Labrador Retriever. They fell in love with her playful and silly personality, and in September 2020 the trio became family.
Senior rescue dog makes house a home
Not long after welcoming Cricket home Paul discovered lumps on Cricket’s body. He brought her to Bay Country Veterinary Hospital, which since 2011 has provided quality, affordable veterinary care to veterans in our program.
Veterinary partners are a vital part of our mission to make pet guardianship more affordable. They are required to offer at least 10 percent off of fees, which can mean big savings over the life of an adopted pet.
Thankfully, Cricket’s lumps were benign.
And a few lumps and bumps have not stopped this senior rescue dog from making each day an adventure. She loves to play with laser pointers and enjoys weekly hikes with her family.
Although Paul did not have time in his life to train a puppy, he spares nothing to give Cricket the attention she deserves. The mature dog repays him in kind by making sure that they spend some time outdoors every day.
“Even on days that might not have great weather,” he shares, “she still gets us out of the house.”
Despite her adventurous and playful spirit, Cricket is equally happy to lounge on the couch. Paul appreciates her versatility and how easily she fits into the rhythms of their household.
The young Marine Corps veteran is glad that he made the decision to save a mature pet.
Cricket may have her puppy years far behind her, but she still has so much love and life to give.
“She’s just a joy,” Paul says, “the sweetest dog.”