In 1985 Harold was medically retired with a 100 percent service-connected disability. Years later a tiny dog adopted from a Maryland shelter would bring him the comfort he sought for so long.
Criss-crossing the country and the globe
It was 1972 when Harold enlisted in the United States Air Force and completed basic training at Lackland Air Force Base (AFB).
The base is one of three now managed under Joint Base San Antonio, in addition to installations at Fort Sam Houston and Randolph AFB.
After completing technical training at Chanute AFB in Illinois Harold was a man on the move. Like many who serve in the armed forces, he was stationed when and where the military needed him most.
Harold’s many duty stations during his more than 13 years of service are a true geography lesson. They include assignments to New Mexico, New York, Wyoming, and Louisiana. Harold was stationed far from home as well, to Kunsan Air Base, South Korea.
Still other parts of the United States awaited Harold for temporary duty travel, known as TDY. The Air Force veteran had extended TDYs to Barkdale AFB, Louisiana, as well as Castle AFB and Los Angeles AFB – both in California.
Harold wastes no time when asked about his most memorable experience from his service.
“1976 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY while stationed at Plattsburgh AFB,” he says.
Nine years later, in 1985, Harold was medically retired and received an honorable discharge from the Air Force.
The 10-pound tiny dog
Harold prefers not to speak about the circumstances that led to his being 100 percent disabled. For years he struggled to sleep well. He did the best to move on with his life.
“[I] live with [my] wife of 23 years,” he says, “and Taz, a three year-old male Yorkie and Fifi, a four year-old female Poochon.”
A Poochon is a mix between a miniature or toy Poodle and a Bichon Frisé.
But it was not until May 2019 that the tiny dog now called Taz found his way into Harold’s heart and home.
And then there were two
Fifi has been a delightful canine companion. But Harold still felt something was lacking in his life. For him, the answer was to adopt another companion pet.
“Fifi was not enough,” he shares. “Needed another [dog] to make a perfect fit.”
So Harold visited a local shelter, SPCA of Anne Arundel County.
Since 2016 the shelter has waived fees for dozens of veterans in our program who adopt eligible dogs and cats.
Little did a tiny, adult, 10-pound dog named Duke know that his fortunes were about to change for the better.
The shelter staff told Harold about Pets for Patriots and our companion pet adoption program for military veterans. He applied online and one day later was approved into our program.
The Air Force veteran wasted no time.
That very day Harold went back to the shelter to adopt Duke. He believed that the tiny dog would be the perfect fit he had been seeking. And he would be right.
“Both pets calm me greatly,” he shares. “I sleep better.”
Duke was promptly renamed Taz. It turns out after all that he was the missing piece of the puzzle, just what Harold needed to give him a sense of peace. And a good night’s rest.
Since their adoption, the Air Force veteran and his tiny dog have become closer than ever.
“Taz,” he says, “has become my best bud.”