Smiling shelter dog makes Navy veteran’s life complete

Smiling shelter dog makes Navy veteran's life complete

Roman is enjoying life on shore after traveling the world in service to his country. He is currently active duty Navy and made the decision to find a four-legged friend – adopting a smiling shelter dog who brings joy to his world.

From sea to shore

In 2012 Roman enlisted in the Navy and joined the crew of DDG 81 USS Winston S. Churchill.

“While on board I did two tours to the Persian Gulf,” he says. “Currently I’m stationed at US Fleet Forces Command where I provide support to the East coast fleet.”

The young seaman is on shore duty and stationed at Naval Support Activity (NSA) Hampton Roads in Norfolk, Virginia. It is a sprawling military installation responsible for a wide range of Naval fighter support. Roman’s roommate, Tyler, is active duty Navy as well.

While Roman appreciates being stationed on land, his most enduring memories were forged at sea.

“My most memorable time would be meeting all the new people and getting to travel around the world while serving my country,” he shares.

Now more grounded, both literally and figuratively, the young Navy veteran was ready for a new life experience.

For the love of a smiling shelter dog

For Roman, deciding to adopt a dog was not a matter of ‘if’ as much as ‘when.’

“I grew up with a dog all my life,” he says. “Tyler actually suggested we look into having a dog now that I was on shore duty, and we had stable means of owning and taking care of a dog.” Smiling shelter dog makes Navy veteran's life complete

Costs of pet guardianship are a critical consideration when adopting a dog or cat. Average dog care costs are $1,200 per year, not including the possibility of medical emergencies or other unforeseen expenses. Petfinder estimates that first-year dog expenses can run as high as almost $2,500.

Pets for Patriots cannot make pets affordable for everyone. But the benefits we provide make it more achievable for many veterans to adopt a pet – including Roman.

“I chose to adopt through Pets for Patriots due to the great support and benefits they provided,” he says, “not only during the adoption process, but also after the adoption.”

Our staff follows up every adoption during the first several weeks, and checks in again at the six-month and one-year anniversaries as well.

Roman found out about our companion pet adoption program for military veterans through the Virginia Beach SPCA.  Since 2012 and through our partnership, the shelter has offered veterans discounted pet adoptions and access to their low-cost veterinary clinic.

One day after being approved by Pets for Patriots, Roman found his match.

Black pets rule

Sebastian was a one year-old, large black Labrador mix. Like every other animal at countless shelters across the country, he was homeless through no fault of his own. And there is some evidence that black and other dark-furred pets have a harder time getting adopted. Smiling shelter dog makes Navy veteran's life complete

Some attribute this to unfounded superstitions, but more likely it is due to the fact that these animals are difficult to photograph well. Most would-be adopters look first at pets’ online profiles; a photograph could make or break a pet’s chances to get a second look.

Fortunately for Sebastian – since renamed Rook – Roman did not see a dark-furred dog. He saw the dog who was the right fit for his lifestyle, and every day validates his decision to adopt him. Due to Rook’s size at the time of his adoption, he qualifies for all the benefits we have to offer.

Roman enjoys learning more about his new pet friend, including what activities he enjoys most.

“Rook loves playing catch with his favorite ball. He enjoys any toy that squeaks and loves cuddling up when he’s tired,” he says.

Beyond the smiling shelter dog’s antics, it is the joy he delivers that makes Roman’s life complete.

“I enjoy the smile he brings everyday when he’s happy,” he says. “I also enjoy his company and the fact that he is always grateful no matter what is going on.”

It is not necessary to be a wounded warrior or veteran coping with injuries, seen or unseen, to benefit from a companion pet. Even the trials and sacrifices of everyday military life are made better when they include a four-legged friend.

“Rook has definitely made all of our lives better, especially mine,” Roman says. “Everyday when I come home he happily greets me with excitement. He is always by our side cheering us up and making us feel wanted. He has been great emotional support for me.”


  1. Christine E

    Rook has such a smiley face! Really cute! So glad you two found each other and are happy together.

  2. Alyson

    Thank you for your service and for adopting Rook – I’m so glad you found each other! I have 2 black cats and I’ve heard that it’s harder for black-furred animals to get a home. Rook is a gem – so glad he wasn’t overlooked!!

  3. Natasha Brenner

    Black. white, brown, they are all wonderful!
    Thanks for your service and for rescuing a homeless dog!

  4. Panda J

    Thank you for your service, Roman…and also many, many thanks for giving Rook a loving home to call his own. It’s a shame that any dog would have to live out their days in a shelter, even a good one. I know Rook is grateful to you for showing him what it means to be loved unconditionally. It’s obvious from the smiles on BOTH of you that this match was meant to be.

  5. Audrey

    So happy that Roman and Rook found one another. And your right, to many wonderful adoptable “black” dogs are over looked do to the color of there fur. Wish you both a long happy and healthy life together.

  6. Roberto

    Thanks so much for the post.Really thank you! Great.

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