Autumn is a young Navy sailor with an adventurous spirit who never hesitated when given the opportunity to adopt Fidget – a shy, yet loving six year-old ‘scaredy cat.’
Opposites do attract
Upon returning from Kuwait, her first overseas deployment, Autumn received orders to station in Norfolk, Virginia. With the understanding that she would be anchored in one place for the foreseeable future came the desire for the type of friendship that only a pet could offer.
The Navy Reservist started her search for her new pet friend, through which she discovered Pets for Patriots, a nationally operating charity pairing military veterans with homeless shelter animals. In December, 2013, Autumn found Fidget – a then six year-old domestic shorthair mix cat – at the Virginia Beach SPCA, one of hundreds of partner shelters in the Pets for Patriots nationwide network.
Spirited by nature, Autumn was instantly drawn to Fidget’s more demure, yet charming ways. Testament to the wisdom that opposites attract, the pair bonded quickly, and – little by little – Autumn is helping Fidget gain a greater sense of confidence.
“He is still a ‘scaredy cat,’” she laughs, “but he has gotten a lot better.”
Enjoying his newfound sense of security, the rescued cat is starting to come out of his shell. Autumn especially loves Fidget’s habit of running to the door to greet her when she gets home.
“Fidget is an all-around amazing cat,” she says proudly.
Not just a job: an adventure
Autumn decided to leave the military after two years at the Naval Academy, but found that it was not that easy to walk away from service to her country.
“I was active duty when I was accepted to the Naval Academy. I left after my sophomore year,” she recalls, “and was out of the military for three months before I joined the Reserves.”
In March, 2013, the young sailor’s desire to serve was put to the test when her unit was activated and sent overseas.
“My deployment was an overall worthwhile experience,” she recalls, “in good and bad ways.”
Although she had some negative experiences while deployed, Autumn’s positive outlook allowed her to learn and grow in spite of them. She speaks highly of her time overseas, which included time in the Middle East.
“I had never been deployed before, and I loved it!” she exclaims, adding, “I wouldn’t mind going again.”
The ‘purr-fect’ way to de-stress
Many service members returning from deployment have a need for the type of friendship that only a companion pet can provide. Autumn felt this need herself, and understood that service members can help homeless pets in a unique way – in large part due to their sense of duty and commitment to others.
“I chose to use Pets for Patriots because it is a great way for veterans and service members to give back and help animals,” says Autumn.
As it turns out, the healing is mutual when service members adopt a shelter pet. Studies have shown that the sound emitted from a purring cat is at a frequency that promotes healing and stress reduction – for both the cat and the pet parent.
For his part, Fidget is no longer homeless and has a life with someone who appreciates his timid charisma. And Autumn has a friend who gives her as much as she has given to him. To her fellow veterans, she shares a simple bit of advice:
“Join Pets for Patriots,” she says, “It’s a great program and a way to let pets help you!”
Are you or do you know a veteran who would benefit from a four-legged friend? Learn about our companion pet adoption program!