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™.
A previously abused, but spirited cat finds his way into the heart and home of a lonely Air Force veteran. Not exactly a scene from When Harry Met Sally, but more like When Harry Met...Ed.
Pets for Patriots member Ed was easily won over by Harry, a spirited Maine Coon, during their first meeting. Harry, on the other hand, took a little longer to come around. But in a patient and loving environment, the Air Force veteran who had served in Vietnam and elsewhere internationally, soon became the world to the homeless feline.
The veteran and his daughter visited Pets for Patriots partner Animal Protective Foundation in Scotia, New York on a whim.
"My daughter discovered Pets For Patriots on the internet and thought it would be a great program for me," says Ed. "I lost my 16 year-old Maltese about two years ago. He died in my arms. It was so heartbreaking, I wasn?t even sure I wanted to get another pet," he recalls. "I wasn't in a rush, but we thought perhaps a cat would make nice company for me."
During their shelter visit, Ed and his daughter were drawn to the beautiful two year-old cat. However, there was a hitch.
"Harry was afraid of me initially," reports Ed. "He liked my daughter but wouldn't come near me." Shelter staff suspected abuse in Harry's previous home. "He was just a nice looking cat and I really wanted things to work out for us."
Ed grew up in the Adirondacks and fondly remembers his first cat, a calico named "Cricket," who was his constant companion.
"After a couple of weeks, Harry started to follow me around just like that old cat. Harry follows me like a little lamb, meets me at the door when I come home, and has to touch me when he sleeps with me at night."
Although he has become a constant and loving companion for for the Air Force veteran, Harry is not shy about letting him know when he has had enough. The feisty feline will gently swat the veteran or abruptly jump up and run out of the room, only to return a few minutes later, ready for more attention.
"We really enjoy each other?s company quite a bit."
It's no wonder Harry is happy in his new home. Ed has transformed his apartment into a playground for the ever curious Harry. He has built a cat tree from lumber and carpet remnants, installed bird feeders outside the windows, and filled the apartment with cat toys.
"Harry loves to fetch and sometimes jumps three feet into the air to catch toys," says the Vietnam veteran, laughing. "I'm training him to shake hands now."
Ed reports that with all the daytime play, the normally nocturnal cat now sleeps through the nights. "I know he is running around the apartment playing and jumping from window to window chasing birds all day because he is tired at night."
Ed admits he is not much of a TV person, especially since Harry recently chewed up the TV remote during an excited romp.
"Harry provides so much entertainment for me with his curious and playful nature. He gets into everything."
Ed is grateful for the service Pets for Patriots offers.
"I would definitely recommend the program to another veteran. They were so accommodating and the assistance they offered during and after the adoption was wonderful. I can't thank them enough for helping me find Harry."
Clearly Ed and Harry have brought much love and laughter into each other's lives. "We are the best of friends."
In what ways is your pet your best friend?