Vietnam war long over, Army veteran finds four-legged battle buddy

At the height of the Vietnam War in early 1968, Richard joined the Army. He joined because, quite simply, “Uncle Sam decided he wanted me.” He loved the opportunity to see different states, like Colorado, and meet different people. He valued the sense of camaraderie as well.

“You took care of your buddy and your buddies took care of you.”

Richard was scheduled for deployment to Vietnam, but there was an issue with his unit and he no longer had to go. He subsequently got injured and separated from the Army altogether.

Without the camaraderie Richard so enjoyed while serving, he turned to the next best thing: man’s best friend. “I’ve always had a dog,” Richard explains.

Growing up, he fell in love with his aunt’s Chinese Pug and, in turn, she got him one for Christmas. He had two more Chinese Pugs after that, but when someone stole them from their pen, Richard decided that was it – no more dogs. “I got too attached,” he says.

“I’m gonna get me a dog”

Years later, Richard woke up and thought, “I’m gonna get me a dog.” 

He was looking for another one of his beloved Chinese Pugs, but found them difficult to find. Instead, a little shelter dog found him.

Richard visited the Lake City Humane Society, where the volunteers showed him a puggle, but when he saw the dog he realized it wasn’t mean to be: “I didn’t have that feeling.” However when he turned around, he saw a little brown tail sticking up among the other dogs in the pen.

“You couldn’t even see her,” Richard recalls. Then the other dogs parted and there she was, a Miniature Dachshund the color of cinnamon. Richard knew he’d found his dog, or maybe it was the other way around. “It’s the way she looked at me,” he explains.

Richard took his new little battle-buddy home and changed her name from Jetta to Cinnamon, to match her coloring.

“She looks just like Cinnamon.”

Battle buddy rules the homestead

From the moment Richard brought Cinnamon home, he relinquished control of his home.

“She rules the house,” he says, but wouldn’t have it any other way. Cinnamon keeps Richard company – and keeps him busy. Thought to be at least two years old, in many ways she still acts like a puppy: constantly on the go, always wanting to go outside to play. Richard will take her out for two or three hours at a time just to tire her out. 

“She keeps me company, keeps me busy,” he says. “I have my hands full.”

Every veteran needs a buddy

Richard takes Cinnamon to Caring Hands Animal Hospital, a Pets for Patriots veterinary partner, because it’s the most convenient and he’s heard people speak highly of it. During Cinnamon’s spay surgery, Caring Hands called him twice to let him know how she was doing.

“I thought that was good of them,” he says, but most important, “Cinnamon seems like she likes them – that’s the main thing.”

In addition to offering an ongoing 10% discount on services to member Patriots who adopt through the charity’s companion pet adoption program for veterans, Caring Hands provides affordable pet care and owner education with “Pet U,” a free online resource with information about vaccinations and parasites. Richard is equally appreciative to Pets for Patriots for sending him a $150 Petsmart gift card to help with the cost of pet basics for Cinnamon, like food and supplies.

Prior to this pet adoption experience Richard had never heard of Pets for Patriots, but he’s very glad that he did.

“It’s been a good experience from A to Z. I wouldn’t trade Cinnamon for the world, and I think every veteran who’s by themselves should do it, too.”

How did you know that your rescued pet was “the one?”


  1. Cherie Eifler

    Heartwarming story!! Love our vets to have pets…and shelter dogs rock!

  2. Dianne

    Thank for all you do, for animals and our veterans!

    When we went looking for a dog, my husband was somewhat reluctant. It took Lilly less than two minutes to win him over! I firmly believe we don’t choose the dog, the dog chooses us.

    • Beth Zimmerman

      Thanks for the kind words, Dianne, and so glad to hear that your husband had a change of heart about adopting a dog.

  3. Hairless Cat

    Hi P4P and Richard,

    Cinnamon is a cutie and she has kind eyes. Love her coloring – good name for her.

    I think that when a person goes to a shelter, the cat or dog often picks them rather than the other way around. I think it’s a fate thing.

    Happy to hear you’re getting a lot of enjoyment from having her around and interacting with her. An energetic dog like yours will help keep you healthy. I can tell by how you hold her that you take real good care of her. Nice that you take her outside for hours at a time.

    For me it’s a privilege to be a cat parent and I love to take care of my cat children. They’re my best friends. They give me added purpose in life. God forbid that I should go before they do. Have to make sure they get good care until the end.

    Nice to hear about Cinnamon,

    =^-^= Hairless Cat Girl =^-^=

  4. Pets for Patriots

    Jacquie, we’re delighted to know that Sugar Bear has brought so much joy to you and Roger! We love your idea as well for a Lake City ‘meetup’ of Pets for Patriots adopters. For privacy reasons, we’ll need to contact each veteran individually to see if he or she would like to participate and share contact information so that the group can organize a get together.

    We’ll see what we can do, and thanks for the awesome suggestion!

  5. Jacqueline Samper

    Dear Richard

    My name is Jacquie,me and my husband Roger also adopted a few weeks ago the most wonderful girl thru this program and we are as happy and delight with her and all the love she’s giving us,sometimes I think it would be real nice to be able for all vets in Lake City Fl to get together and share our experiences.we or at least the ones that want could get together with our pets in a park,that would also help us meet and make new friends so we aren’t or feel that lonely.

    I really hope you and cinnamon are fine and enjoying each other as me and Roger are enjoying sugar bears company! Please let me know what you think about my idea and if we can do so thru this site or to my e mail adress ( ,

    Thank you Beth and hope you read this one and can tell me what you think about my idea I think it would be great to get to know each other ,

    Best regards Jacquie and Roger Voss

  6. George

    Let me just add one point. I spent 4 1/2 years straight in “Nam” and have severe PTSD. Thank the powers that be that we now recognize it is a REAL illness. I finally couldn’t take it any more and went to see the Doc. Smart move. So are my dogs. Please get a pet dog or cat if you can. A Rescue Dog or cat is even better. Best of luck to you my friend.

    • Pets for Patriots

      George, thank you for your service and for sharing how your dogs help you cope. Of course we agree that a rescued dog or cat can be the best medicine!

  7. George

    I agree SO much with having a dog.. Sleep a lot better now. Figure if they ain’t barking the noise I hear don’t matter. Got a regular Dachshunds. Both rescue dogs. Meds and my little ones are great. Hop your success continues.

  8. Diane Wise

    Thank you for sharing this awsome story….So many vet’s have lost so much, it’s great that they can find a little happyness and comfort in having a buddy…..

    • Pets for Patriots

      You’re welcome, Diane. It’s an honor for us to be able to help our veterans and service members with something as simple, yet powerful, as a companion pet.

  9. Maria Pacheco

    Thank you for your service and the way she is looking at you in the top picture, you didn’t stand a chance of walking away without her.

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