Ruxin was an adult shelter dog like so many others, wanting nothing more than a secure life in a loving home. In 2013, just before Christmas, the shelter dog got his wish: an Army veteran and his wife – still reeling from the loss of their beloved dog – were smitten by this two year-old Beagle mix. The rest, as they say, is history.
In 2005, George retired, many years after his service in the Army Finance Unit. He was drafted in 1958 and recalls one of his most memorable times in the military, when he was serving in Budingen, Germany.
“While there I was able to visit with my parents’ family,” George recalls. “My parents immigrated from Germany and I was a first born of immigrant parents.”
These days, George and his wife Mariann live in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Twice a week, the Army veteran volunteers at a local hospital.
“I enjoy giving of my time,” he explains.
Mariann is retired as well; she and her husband love walking and the outdoors, and plan to take some day trips to see more of their beautiful state.
Filling a void left by the death of a beloved pet and “buddy”
In May 2013, George and Mariann made the heart wrenching decision to put down their beloved pet dog. It was extremely hard on the couple, and the Army veteran felt a deep sense of loss.
“I had felt a void in my life,” George says. “I love the companionship the dog had provided; she was my buddy.”
George and Mariann were not ready to adopt right away; they needed an opportunity to cope with their loss before opening their hearts and home to another pet.
“We had to give ourselves time to grieve and close that chapter,” says George.
As the year neared its end, the couple were warming to the idea of a new pet friend. Eager – though not in a particular hurry – they knew that somewhere there was a shelter dog who would be perfect for them. They were ready, yet patient.
“Near the holidays I felt it was time to search for a new companion,” recalls the Army veteran. “We looked at many shelters and knew one day we would find that special pup. Sure enough, we discovered Ruxin and felt that tug as soon as we spent time in the visiting room.”
Love at first sight
It is often said that a pet chooses its guardian, not the other way around. Ruxin, a two year-old Beagle mix, wasted no time letting George know that the Army veteran was his.
“When he jumped up on my lap, laid down and looked me in the eye,” says George, “I knew he was coming home with us.”
George and Mariann found Ruxin at the Virginia Beach SPCA. The shelter partners with Pets for Patriots, and offers the charity’s members a 10% adoption fee discount and access to its low-cost veterinary clinic without having to demonstrate proof of income eligibility. The savings make it more affordable for veterans, like George, to not only adopt a pet in need, but to keep him in good health. In addition, Pets for Patriots provides a range of financial benefits and extensive post-adoption support.
“While we were completing the adoption paperwork at the SPCA,” George says, “the representative asked if I was a veteran and she gave me information on the Pets for Patriots program. We completed the process and had a conversation with Beth Zimmerman, who guided us through the application process. Ms Zimmerman was absolutely delightful and we felt as if we had known her for a long time.”
Light of their lives
Since his honorable adoption, Ruxin has filled the void left by the loss of the couple’s beloved dog. Reflecting on what George loves most about his beguiling Beagle mix, the Army veteran is clear: “His loyalty and the companionship he gives to us on a daily basis.”
“He invites us to take him for walks and he plays fetch with me,” says George, “and just sits on my lap after a long day to give me joy and peace.”
Based upon his experiences, George believes other veterans would benefit if they adopted a pet through Pets for Patriots. His words of wisdom for them?
“To consider this program, and to understand it is so worthy in helping others to allow the animals to be part of our lives.”
George and Mariann feel a renewed sense of purpose in their lives, and Ruxin escaped the fate that befalls far too many homeless animals in this country: never making it out of a shelter.
“Since Ruxin has come into our lives he had brought a new light of life to us,” says George. “His gifts are many, and we are pleased to have been introduced to this wonderful program.”
How has your adopted pet changed your life?