After three deployments with the Army, one veteran decided to fulfill a lifelong dream and become a first-time dog adopter. In turn, the dog he rescued from shelter life returned the favor by breathing new life into his blended family of five children and new wife.
Marcus joined the United States Army in July 1996 and left active duty in 2001, returning to full-time duty with the National Guard in 2006. His most memorable time in service, however, was a once in a lifetime experience:
“Coming home from Kosovo to watch my son be born.”
During his more than eleven years of active duty, Marcus served on three deployments, including a tour in Germany from which he was deployed to Bosnia and Kosovo. In 2009, he was honored as Indiana Soldier of the Year.
New wife, new life…and a dog
In 2012, Marcus and Marsha married; between them they had five children from their prior marriages. In spite of having a full house, the pair decided to add another family member to the mix.
“Since we were newlyweds and our kids were getting older,” says Marcus, “Marcia suggested we get a dog.”
“I had never owned a dog in my life before,” the Army veteran says, “but have always wanted one, so choosing to adopt Rocky was very easy.”
In November 2012, Marcus found his new best friend at the Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control in Fort Wayne, Indiana, a Pets for Patriots adoption partner. Rocky is a Labrador-Retriever mix and, as a large dog at the time of adoption, eligible for benefits through the nationwide charity that help make pet adoption more affordable and achievable for veterans.
“We chose this program,” says Marcus of Pets for Patriots, “because it focuses on saving pets that would otherwise be left behind in a shelter.”
Pets eligible for the Pets for Patriots program include adult and special needs animals, as well as large dogs, regardless of age – collectively the animals most overlooked for adoption.
“Pets for Patriots made the [adoption] process so easy,” says the Army veteran, “they were very informative.”
Best of all, the charity helped make it possible for Marcus to be a hero once more.
“We got save a dog from a place he didn’t want to be, and bring him home.”
Rescued, Rocky returns the favor
Ask anyone who has a rescued pet and he or she will tell you that an animal knows when he has been saved. It was no different for Rocky. In return for a new home, a new family and a new leash on life, Rocky has invigorated the Army veteran and father to five.
“Rocky has given me a new sense of well being,” says Marcus. “He has been a great companion and running mate. It’s fun to train and teach him, and to see how easily he adapts to his new surroundings.”
In some respects, Marcus compares Rocky to “having a new kid around,” albeit a very large and energetic one. Of his new companion, the Army veteran is clear about one thing:
“Definitely has made life fun again.”
Having experienced pet adoption and ownership for the first time in his life, Marcus recommends that other veterans find their new pet friends through Pets for Patriots, too.
“Do it; don’t wait,” he says. “It’ll be one of the best choices you could make in your life, and you’ll save a pet’s life as well.”