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 dual Marine-Army veteran and dog lover learned that he had a soft spot for, of all things, a rescued Calico cat. The Vietnam-era Devil Dog - a term associated with the Marines since WWI for their legendary bravado in battle - found joy with the finicky feline, who's proving to have a personality as resilient as her savior.
After serving in the Marine Corps from 1973 to 1975 and then the next eight years in the Army as a heavy–wheel vehicle mechanic, Mark separated from service with the rank of sergeant first class. The disabled veteran always fancied himself a dog person, but that all changed on a sunny June day.
A cat even a Devil Dog could love
After the passing of their 17 year-old pug, Mark and his wife Sandy knew it was time to get another pet, but the couple was torn on what type of pet to choose. Mark had grown up with dogs, Sandy with cats. Conceding to his wife’s wish, the couple decided to go for a feline.
“Believe me it was a compromise,” Mark laughs, with his trademark good humor.
It was pure chance that brought Mark, Sandy and a cat named Callie together.
“One day Sandy and I were driving by the Michigan Humane Society and decided to take a look,” says Mark.
Although the former Devil Dog would have chosen, well - a dog - if Mark and his wife were going to adopt a cat he would pick it out. He insisted it had to be a Calico, a breed of cat distinguished by black, white and yellow markings.
Callie, a seven year-old domestic long-hair cat, had been at the shelter for four months. The previous owners surrendered her due to their allergies, and it often takes longer for older cats to find new, loving homes.
“She is gorgeous," says Mark. "I have never seen a cat that looks the way Callie does.”
Dog lover makes room in his heart for a cat named Callie
The Vietnam-era veteran and his wife learned from the shelter staff that Callie had certain idiosyncrasies – that she was a somewhat eccentric cat. For example, the couple were told that Callie would not lie next to anyone, and yet now she’s starting to lay beside Mark. They were advised that the finicky feline likes other cats and not dogs, but so far the opposite has been true.
It’s not uncommon for a pet to exhibit different behaviors in a shelter environment than those that they ultimately express once they’re in a safe, loving and forever home. One thing Mark and Sandy know for sure: Callie’s the boss.
“She does what she wants,” Mark says of their independent-minded companion.
When reflecting on how the newest member of the family helps him as a disabled veteran, Mark is characteristically lighthearted.
“She helps me spend my money on treats and toys, yet she only likes playing with rolled up balls of aluminum foil.”
In spite of her spirited, independent ways – or perhaps because of them – Callie is bringing untold joy to Mark and his wife. Her antics are a constant source of amusement.
“She goes to one corner of the house and sleeps, then she will go to the kitchen and meow at me for no apparent reason," says Mark, “then she will go to another corner and sleep again.”
What personality quirks does your pet have that you find most amusing?