It is often the military spouse who holds together the home front when a veteran deploys. For one young Navy couple it is their adopted dog who comforts the spouse left on shore when the other serves at sea.
A Navy tradition
Tyler realized from a very young age that serving in the Navy was part of his heritage and his destiny.
“When I was younger my family visited the USS KIDD, which my grandpa served on, and it was then that I realized I wanted to join the Navy,” he says.
Tyler has already served for over a decade and recently re-enlisted for another tour of duty. Over the course of his more than 10 years of service Tyler and his wife, Jaime, have moved from the West coast to the East – and currently call the community around Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek their home.
“We just moved to across the country a year ago,” Tyler says, “and have been preparing for a deployment.”
This will not be Tyler’s first sojourn at sea.
“I served on the USS PELELIU for six years and three deployments before transferring to SWRMC for shore duty.”
The Southwest Regional Maintenance Center – or SWRMC – is a command that provides maintenance support and training for more than 100 surface ships, submarines and other assets of the Pacific Fleet. They are part of the Naval Sea Systems Command, which prides itself on being “the force behind the fleet.”
Life of a military spouse
As Tyler prepared for his upcoming deployment he is keenly aware that he is not the only one who is serving.
The life of a military spouse is often lonely, yet their role is so essential. When veterans deploy it is the spouse left behind who not only manages the home life, but offers essential, mission-critical moral support to the deploying partner. Communication may be sporadic at best, leaving the homebound spouse to manage every aspect of the family’s affairs alone.
When Tyler is away it is his wife who anchors him to the life they have built together. For Jaime, however, deployments are a time of high anxiety while her husband serves at sea.
“My wife was at home a lot by herself when I was gone on the ship,” Tyler shares. “She was battling anxiety and her counselor had mentioned that having a dog could help. My wife and I grew up with pets in our homes so we were excited about the idea of adopting.”
The couple’s excitement was tempered by the realization that a companion pet meant additional expenses, as well. Tyler admits that this was the cause of some concern.
“We were a little worried about the costs that come with having a dog. With food, toys, vet bills,” he says.
Luckily, help was just a few mouse clicks away.
Pets for Patriots throws Navy couple a lifeline
It was 2011. At the time, Tyler and Jaime were living on the West coast and thinking seriously about companion pet adoption. They started their search at the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services, which had become a Pets for Patriots adoption partner earlier that year. The shelter offers deeply discounted adoptions to veterans in our program who adopt eligible dogs and cats.
Like most prospective adopters the couple spent a fair amount of time searching online as well. It was then that they learned about our partnership with the County shelter and all of the benefits we offer to help make pet guardianship more affordable for military veterans and families.
Tyler applied to Pets for Patriots shortly after Christmas. He was approved quickly and his life – and that of his military spouse – would never again be the same.
Macy was a then two year-old Shih Tzu without a home or humans of her own. The little dog was in the care of the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services’ San Diego campus – one of three across the county – and her fortunes were about to change.
Little dog’s ship comes in
Tyler and Jaime fell in love instantly with the scruffy little brown and white dog. It did not take long for the trio to bond.
“Macy quickly became a part of our family. She is so loving and at this point ridiculously spoiled,” Tyler admits, “but we wouldn’t have it any other way.”
The financial concerns that the couple had about affording a pet all but vanished. With support to buy welcome home pet food and essentials, ongoing discounted veterinary care, and access to curated discounts on pet health insurance, food, medication and other needs, Tyler felt confident that he and Jaime could manage the costs of caring for their newest charge.
“We thank you for making it easier for us to adopt her and give her a second chance at life. I can’t explain how much the gift cards have helped us out,” Tyler says. “We were able to get her a lot of necessities without too much out of our pocket. This program is a real blessing and we want to thank you again for the work that you do.”
The young couple are not the only ones feeling grateful. Macy went from homeless to home, and has been part of this military family’s every move. She has even learned to enjoy the East coast snow after spending a few years soaking up the San Diego sunshine. The little dog has a big zest for life, and her infectious spirit is bringing untold joy to Tyler and Jaime.
“She is so loving and such a cuddle bug. Her personality is so distinct,” says Tyler. “We just love her so much.”
Adding a companion pet to their family has made all the difference to this Navy couple. Tyler describes the positive changes in their lives as nothing short of “huge.” Perhaps most important, however, is the comfort that both he and Jaime now feel when he must serve at sea. While Jaime still bears all of the burdens of a typical military spouse, she has Macy at home to help her soldier through.
“My wife has her anxiety under control,” he says, “and having Macy at home when I am not there is such a comfort to have someone there with her.”