Young Navy veteran wins fight of her life with old rescue dog at her bedside

Young Navy veteran wins fight of her life with old rescue dog at her bedside

Julie is a Navy veteran who served the world over, but experienced the fight of her life much closer to home. Her battle coincided with her efforts to adopt a companion dog, the very dog who sat vigil at her bedside and aided her recovery.

Our thanks to Julie and her husband, Lance, for their military service. And gratitude to Humane Society of the Treasure Coast, which worked closely with us to extend their foster-to-adopt timeframe until Julie was well.

This is the young Navy veteran’s story, in her own words.


On October 29th, 2020 I was attacked by a German Shepherd that escaped from its yard while I was taking an evening walk with my husband. Thankfully the laceration was on the outside of my wrist and palm of my hand. It could’ve been much worse if the dog had bitten the inside of my wrist. 

After I left the hospital I told my husband about how my previous dog, a black Pit Bull named Faith, seemed to know when I was hurt or wasn’t feeling well. As my wound closed my husband agreed to go to the humane society and see if I could find my furry forever friend.

I fell in love with each dog, but didn’t find a special connection with any of them that day.  

 Over the moon for Luna

About a week later my husband agreed to go back and that’s when I met Luna! She came into the shelter about five months prior and tested positive for heartworm. During our previous visit she was recovering on the medical side of the shelter.

As I approached her kennel she barked a couple times with her tail wagging so fervently her entire back end was moving side to side. 

A volunteer allowed us to formally meet in a private playroom. Within minutes she was rolling over for belly rubs and licking my face. I knew she was the dog for me! 

We brought her home and she roamed around our two acres, and when she was satisfied she came inside and fell asleep. She has a soft mouth when taking treats, quickly learned how to heel during walks, and “stay” as the Amazon delivery man approached.     

The fight of her life

After Luna had been with us for about a week I started running a low grade fever and intermittently feeling dizzy. I took a COVID test and when it came back negative I decided to tough it out.

Luna sensed the days I didn’t feel well enough to toss the ball more than a couple times and instead of her outgoing, playful nature she’d lay across my lap.      

A few days later while getting out of the truck to go to the store I could hardly stand. 

I took myself to the emergency room and within an hour of check-in I went into septic shock from an overgrowth of bacteria from the dog bite the month before. 

The next day I was checked into a hospital room. While running a high fever and covered in blankets my husband asked what he could do to make me more comfortable. 

I asked him to bring me Luna.

He got approval from the hospital staff, and an hour later she was delicately laying with me on the hospital bed, careful not to disturb the IV and EKG wires, her face inches from mine as she slept in my arms. 

Four days later I joined the 60/40 survival odds and checked out of the hospital. When I got home Luna didn’t leave my side for about three days!    

Old, but not forgotten

With copays, specialists fees, lost time from work, and ambulatory fees I was so excited when I found out about the Pets for Patriots program!

At seven years old Luna is considered a senior dog, past her prime. She has a deep scar on her face, a ripped ear, and evidence of a past scabies infection. She limps slightly after too many rounds of fetch from what feels like poorly healed broken ribs. Yet, she loves every person and dog see meets!

She’s quick to give kisses and ask for belly rubs, and cuddle during movie time. 

She chases lizards, and when she catches them she gently puts them back down for another game of tag on a different day. When wild peacocks come into the yard she avoids their treats – stale bread – and only occasionally playfully chases one of them at half speed to get their attention.       

“…anything can heal with a bit of love”

I was in the Navy for eight years and frequently deployed on aircraft carriers as an avionics technician in a helicopter squadron. After earning my bachelor’s degree while serving as an aviation maintenance instructor, when the time came I decided not to re-enlist.

I spent the next five years working for nonprofit organizations.

I couldn’t deny I felt something missing – the brotherhood I’d experienced while serving – so when I was offered a position teaching helicopter maintenance in Iraq I jumped at the opportunity. That was seven years ago.

Once the contract in Iraq ended I accepted a program manager position in Afghanistan. I was overseas for just over half a decade, and when I returned to the USA three years ago I had a difficult time adjusting to life back here. I’ve been so blessed!

Since that time I met and married my wonderful husband, Lance, [a] Marine Corps veteran.

We were both offered engineering jobs to support the US Navy’s level of readiness.

We moved to a house with a bit of land in West Palm Beach and now I have the most perfect, loving dog whose kisses make me smile, and scars [that] make me remember that anything can heal with a bit of love.

Thanks again for helping this bundle of joy to join our family! 


  1. sell my house alabama

    I do believe that if we show our dogs how much we love them they will always show us a much greater love for us. Thank you for this article it made my heart happy.

  2. Cindy Lobis

    Your story made me cry too. I have a dog like that and she’s such a blessing. I think dogs are furry little angels. I also think that your service to our country is exemplary! I am a Navy brat & wife. I prayed for you when you were sick ❤️!

  3. Sebastian Baena

    Proud to have served with you Julie. And what a story… what a life!!!!…. A book should be written about it.

  4. Kristin Offenheiser

    I’ve always said that dogs have a sixth sense when it comes to their humans! Thanks so much for your service! And thanks for giving a deserving dog a loving, forever home!

    • Julie Lahring

      We absolutely love Luna and the Pets for Patriots program for making the union possible!
      -Julie, Lance & Luna

  5. ClydesMom

    Your wonderful story made me cry! May God continue to bless you all.

    • Julie, Lance & Luna

      Thank you so much! We pray that veterans, Service members, pets waiting for adoption (and rescue), pets for rescue, employees and volunteers at Pets for Patriots and loyal Donars feel Gods peace at this very moment, a sense of hope for the future…we pray that through the loving spirit, generosity and leadership of people that more Vets will connect with their furry best friend and the love they experience will multiply exponentially! In Jesus name, Amen.

  6. Christine vercellino

    Beautiful, so happy you have such a loyal, smart loving best friend for life in Luna…she will stay by your side forever, that is their character traits, loyalty.

    • Julie, Lance & Luna

      You’re so right! Thank you for reading our story and your kind heart that led you to Pets for Patriots page!

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