From Florida to the war in Afghanistan, this is the story of two veterans who fell in love – with each other and with a lovable mutt named Molly.
From Afghanistan, with love
Mike and I both serve in the Florida Army National Guard together and met while deployed to Afghanistan in 2005. We later began dating after returning home, and four short years later and another deployment, we finally got married. Unfortunately, a few months after, Charlie – Mikes’ adoring Lab who had anxiously awaited his return after three deployments – sadly passed away after 12 faithful years.
After a few months had passed, we decided the house was just too quiet and it was time for a new addition. So, after countless hours of research, looking at the seemingly endless number of pets available for rescue we came across the Pets for Patriots program and decided to register.
Along came Molly
We watched the available pets online at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay for about a week when Molly showed up, a Border collie and Lab mix that had been surrendered to the shelter on 11/11/11, a horrible way to spend a Veterans’ Day. So while we weren’t planning on taking in a new dog that day, we decided we would go and have a “look.”
Unfortunately, when we got there and walked through the kennels we did not see our “Molly.” Disappointed, we started to leave when we realized there was another part of the shelter we had completely passed; it had seemed bigger on the outside. Alas, there she was, poor little Molly, who defiantly was still trying to understand where she was and why exactly everyone was barking. She was very sweet, and understandably a little shy when we visited with her but, we quickly decided there was no way we would go home without her!
Already registered with Pets for Patriots and with papers in hand we went to find out what we needed to do in order to start the adoption process. Surprisingly, the Humane Society said we were the first veterans to use the program but, regardless, everything ran seamlessly. We could not have been happier with the program, or the helpful staff working at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay – especially the very patient member who took a great deal of time trying to get a picture of our new family, with a very distracted Molly.
Molly earns her stripes
When we first brought Molly home, we quickly realized she had had a very lonely life, and had spent much of her time alone. She was over two years old and did not know how to play, she did not know how to “sit,” and rarely did she even respond to her name. However, with the help from the brilliant trainers at Courteous Canine, and bit of time on our part she has made great progress. And, seven months after her adoption, we are proud to say Molly is now not only a certified AKC Canine Good Citizen®, but also as of last week a Delta Society®/Pet Partners® Therapy Dog.
Molly’s personality is perfect for pet-assisted therapy: she’s very sweet and loves people. I have one more year until I become an Occupational Therapy Assistant and hope to bring her to work with me for either “Animal-Assisted Therapy” or “Animal-Assisted Activities.” Until then, we hope to find a good fit for her visiting at the local Tampa Veterans Hospital or a long-term care facility.
Right now Molly is beginning to learn how to do agility in the hopes of improving her confidence, which she still lacks. She is still quite serious at times and is still learning to play. We are consistently trying new things in hopes of finding that one thing that just brings out her inner puppy that every dog has somewhere inside. She does enjoy inviting us to play her weird games that she apparently created for herself during her times of solitude. Regardless, she has been a wonderful rescue and a delightful addition to our small family. She has come a long way from when we first brought her home, and continually brings our family closer together.
Grateful for second chances
I am very pleased with Pets for Patriots and thank you so much for your efforts in supporting veterans. We would also like to thank the Humane Society of Tampa Bay and Cypress Creek Animal Hospital for their support of the program, and of course all of our fantastic trainers at Courteous Canine. You have helped us find Molly, and gave us a wonderful addition to our family, and now in return through her therapy work she will be able to continue to help other veterans through pet-assisted facilitated therapy!
I tell every fellow soldier I know about this program whenever the chance arises! Keep up the good work, and thank you!
~ Jacqueline, Mike and Molly