Pets for Patriots® saves lives by connecting veteran and service members of the United States military with shelter pets in need of a loving home. Operating nationally, the charity is one of the only organizations in the country dedicated to both at-risk pets and military personnel, at any stage of their careers and from all armed forces. Pets for Patriots is a proud member of the Army AW2 Wounded Warrior Program national community support network, a Real Warriors Campaign national partner organization and is listed by the National Resource Directory for ill and wounded veterans. Pets for Patriots, Inc., is a registered 501(c)(3) charity; learn more online to find out how you can Be A Pet's Hero™.
For one particular Coast Guard veteran, a quirky, adopted Shepherd dog made his family's 'wild bunch' just a little bit more wild - and joyful.
For the past 23 years, Will has been working as a dispatcher for the Detroit police and fire departments. During his prior Coast Guard service, he was stationed in Hawaii, traveled to Alaska on patrol, attended the Navy Electronics School near Chicago and served on a Lake Erie, Ohio search-and-rescue team.
Will always had pets growing up, usually multiple cats and dogs at the same time. One of his memories is about Brownie, a German Shepherd Saint Bernard mix, who would follow him and his sister to school every morning. Will would then have to walk Brownie back home while his sister explained to the principal why he was late.
"This might have something to do with why I now hate being late for anything," he says.
The 'wild bunch'
During a trip to visit his parents, both of whom teach college in Mongolia, Will met the woman who would later become his wife, Oyuntsetseg. Her name means "jewel in the heart of the lotus flower." Oyuntsetseg never had pets before, but became part of what Will playfully calls, "the wild bunch," sometimes known as his little menagerie. Will and Oyuntsetseg now have two cats, Daisy and Tom Chono (Mongolian for 'big wolf,' though Will adds, "never mind that he's a cat"), and Bankhar (Mongolian for 'watchdog'), a rescued German Shepherd Border Collie mix.
The latest addition to this eclectic clan is Blake, a German Shepherd mix Will adopted at the Michigan Humane Society with the help of Pets For Patriots. Will and Oyuntsetseg selected a German Shepherd because"they're a handsome breed," but they were even more interested in Blake's accommodating personality. They took the two family cats with them to meet and pick up the dog at the shelter.
"Since Blake didn't try to kill the cats," says Bill, "we all accepted him into the 'wild bunch.'"
Timing is everything
Prior to saving Blake, Will found information about Pets For Patriots in the newspaper and applied to the program. He and Blake now enjoy the benefits Pets for Patriots provides to veterans and their eligible, honorably adopted shelter pets, including ongoing discounted veterinary care and annual contributions towards the cost of pet food and other essentials Blake needs.
"I would recommend Pets For Patriots to other veterans because pets are good therapy, says Bill. "Furthermore, in today's economic climate, people can use some help with their commitments."
The more, the merrier
In spite of already having pets that give them untold joy, Blake has brought new energy and humor to the family. "I give each dog a big bowl of food at dinner. Blake sits on his bowl to hide it and eats Bankhar's food instead," Oyuntsetseg says, laughing. "He makes funny noises when he eats, like he's afraid somebody will steal his... well Bankar's... food from him. He eats with his nose down in the bowl and his bottom up in the air."
Clearly having multiple shelter pets is good therapy for this family.