A senior dog with terminal cancer finds his final home with an Air Force veteran who is dedicated to providing a loving hospice to ailing, older dogs. This is the story of Wendy and Jonah, but is really a larger tale about compassion and love.
Taking flight around the world with the U.S. Air Force
I currently live in Ohio about an hour from where I grew up. I joined the Air Force, active duty, through the delayed enlistment program while a junior in high school. I left for basic training three weeks after graduation. After my four year tour I left active service and eventually made my way back to Ohio. After being out of the military for about 20 months I really found myself missing the lifestyle and family feel associated with being a member of the service. I joined the Air Force Reserves at a small base outside of Youngstown area and a year later got a full-time job at that same base. I have been there there ever since. In my off time I like to work with dog rescues, our local pound and Meals on Wheels here in Trumbull County.
When I joined as an 18 year-old in 1989, I just wanted in the military and did not much care what I did. I started off as a logistics troop and enjoyed my time very much. I went to Texas for my basic training and to Colorado for my technical training, and then was stationed back in Texas at Fort Worth. I was stationed there my entire four-year tour.
Desert Storm started at that time and as the headstrong, adventure-seeking kids we were, we all wanted to go. It wasn’t until I joined the Reserves, though, that Uncle Sam showed me the world.
I have seen South America, Africa, Russia, France, Germany, Italy, many of the “Stans,” SouthEast Asia, etc. And on top of that, Uncle Sam let me cross-train as I outgrew my job. I went from a supply “troop” (we no longer use that term; we use “airman”), to a logistics specialist in aircraft maintenance and then received my commission and became an intelligence officer. I have deployed several times, like nearly ever other service member. I currently hold a full time job as an executive officer.
There are too many memories to chose just one. From the smell of the air in southern Texas while at basic training (I am still transported to that time every time it smell it), to the day I made E-7, the day I commissioned, the day we took a train to Paris on our 24-hour pass while stationed in Germany, 9-11 and standing guard after the attacks, deploying and living in tents, flying in cargo planes around the world and nearly every time someone thanks me for my service.
I can honestly say that it has been my pleasure and there is nothing I would rather be doing!
A loss to cancer and a new calling
I have always had dogs.
My last dog was a blind, epileptic, allergy-ridden, Aussie Shepherd. He ended up dying from bone cancer at the age of 10. It was a pretty quick onset. Within three weeks of me realizing something was wrong, I had to let him go. I kept him longer than I should have, but I just couldn’t let him go. I loved him so and I couldn’t imagine my world without him in it.
Afterward, I grieved for the pets who were suffering like my Willie, but alone and human-less, in pounds and shelters. Pain ridden from illness and heartache on top of it.
I decided that was what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a place where they could come live out their time in peace and comfort and as much joy as I could bring them.
Having worked with rescues, I know many families are unable or willing to take on elderly dogs, let alone ones who come with a potentially costly issue and an almost certain quick and maybe uncomfortable passing. So after a few months of grieving, I started my search and found Jonah. He was recovering from surgery where a cancerous tumor was removed. It had not spread they believed, but this was the kind that would most likely return. While he recovered I adopted two other needy dogs.
And then there was Jonah
I found out about Pets for Patriots through the rescue group who had Jonah. I could not believe the amount of assistance they were offering. I was late in the process when I reached out to them and was contacted by Beth, the executive director, right away to see if we could make it work in time. We had a wonderful, heartfelt conversation about veterans and pets, and it was like talking to an old friend. I was amazed to hear about the program and excited to be involved.
I met Jonah finally at a Petsmart. I brought my other two newly adopted dogs, Loretta, a 12 year-old female who has bladder cancer, and Bear, a male we thought was 10-ish due to the horrible condition of his body and teeth, but now believe to be much younger and who just has had a really hard life. It was stressful for everyone! Poor Jonah was not at all sure about this deal and if he had a say in it I believe he would have denied the deal upfront. However, I am happy to report, that even on the ride home all started to slip into place and now it is like we were all meant to be together. Jonah has lost some much needed weight and even had a shave for summer to be more comfortable. He is also on meds and supplements to help with his hips and is much more spry and playful because of it.
Jonah is very distinguished.
That is a word that was used in his posting and it is very fitting. He holds himself with respect and honor and he listens to commands (most of the time). However, he can be silly at times and he smiles a lot. He does not have a tail, but his little nub and his big butt wiggle wiggle wiggle like crazy all the time. He and Bear love each other and play non-stop when Jonah is not sleeping. Jonah cannot get on the bed, but he is as close to me as he can be so I must always be very careful getting up. He loves to cuddle and kiss me and doesn’t mind putting all of his weight on me in the process, which I love. He is easy to kiss as he is calm, sweet, soft and tender.
Joining Pets for Patriots like being part of a big military family
There is no reason not to join Pets for Patriots!
The financial help is one thing and incredibly generous, but just like with the military, it’s being part of the family that is really moving. And many of our veterans need and want that connection. And the icing on the the proverbial cake is this network can help save more and more animals. It is just such a wonderful organization with great outcomes all around!
We are grateful for veterans like Wendy who hold a special place in their hearts and homes for the animals most in need of understanding, love and compassion.