By now you probably know the twists and turns of Gizmo, the little Shih Tzu dog pictured above, left homeless when his only family – an elderly, dying Korean War veteran – asked us to fulfill his dying wish. In spite of a tremendous and frantic effort to find the dog a new home while his current caretaker was still alive, the veteran died without knowing where his beloved companion would end up.
Many people contacted us and applied to our shelter partner, Rancho Coastal Humane Society, to give Gizmo a new leash on life. Each had their own stories, and reasons why they would be the right choice. But only one person would adopt Gizmo, and his story is worthy of a Hollywood script.
Lyman “Tim” Peterman is a WWII Army veteran living in San Diego with his wife. At nearly 90 years young, Tim maintained his health and good disposition through daily walks with his own dog, who died just two weeks prior to the veteran this story. Lonely and heartbroken, Tim felt lost without a steady canine companion by his side.
His daughter saw our story on a local television station and wrote a heart-wrenching plea to consider her father for Gizmo’s adoption. At first, we thought it was one of the many such stories and calls we were receiving from worthy potential adopters, until two important details caught our eye. We called her right away, and encouraged her father to join our charitable program; even if he didn’t adopt this special dog, we could help connect him to another pet in need. After that call, we immediately contacted Nick Winfrey at Rancho Coastal – a Marine veteran who now spends his days bettering the lives of unwanted dogs and cats.
As it happens, Tim’s dog had been a Shih Tzu, the same breed as little Gizmo. And the name of Tim’s dog was… GIZMO!
Would it be possible that one veteran – who died, leaving his Gizmo homeless – could give renewed purpose to another veteran whose own Gizmo had just died?
On June 30, this unlikely tale became reality. Tim and his wife adopted Gizmo, and Tim already planned to restart his morning walks the very next day. By two years, Tim is now our oldest member Patriot, besting a Marine veteran living in Florida with her honorably adopted dog, Laddie.
But perhaps the most fitting tribute to the power of the pooch came during the adoption festivities, witnessed by a growing crowd of admirers and three San Diego area television stations. Reflecting on the day, Tim said it was the happiest he had since he was in Berlin during his Army days, and the town crier announced that the war was over.