A famous Rolling Stones song reminds us that sometimes life gives us what we need, not what we want. One career Navy veteran got both, however, when she adopted an adult shelter cat who made her home – and life – complete.
Forged by the sea
Crystal joined the Navy in March, 1999, and plans to stay in service “as long as they let me.” She enlisted as a disbursing clerk, converted to a personnel specialist, and now serves as a medical officer recruiter. The Navy employs a wide range of highly skilled medical practitioners and specialists who serve all over the globe.
“I wanted to see the world, and get out of my home town,” Crystal says. “I have definitely done just that. Even though this is not a rating-specific role, I am still in working in an administrative position with some added marketing skills to perform the recruiting portion of my role.”
A career in the military usually means moving around – a lot. Fortunately Crystal’s most recent duty changes have kept her on the East coast, minimizing the inevitable disruptions that are part of military life.
“I was serving on the USS George H. W. Bush CVN77, and transferred to Naval Recruiting District Richmond and working from Naval Officer Recruiting Station Norfolk recruiting medical officers,” Crystal explains. “It’s a new challenge, but I enjoy being able to help others reach their goals to become Naval officers.”
Crystal has had many memorable moments over the course of her nearly two decades-long career. But one moment highlights them all.
“So far, making the pay grade of Chief Petty Officer in 2014 has been the most memorable experience serving in the Navy.”
A dog’s life for one adult shelter cat
The frequent relocations and long hours typical of military life can make it difficult to adopt a companion pet. But Crystal yearned for the unique brand of love that only a rescued animal can deliver.
“I’ve always loved pets, but have not always been able to care for them due to [my] work schedule and arduous deployments,” she says.
Crystal wanted a dog initially, but realized that her lifestyle ruled out that possibility. She did not only want to save a pet; she wanted to give her a wonderful life. And dogs require a significant time commitment.
“I was not home enough to give a dog the attention that they deserve. So I figured a cat would be a better fit for me and my family.”
As it happens there was one particular adult shelter cat who made the grade.
Sophie gets a lifeline
The staff at Virginia Beach SPCA told Crystal about Pets for Patriots and the many benefits we offer to veterans who adopt program-eligible dogs or cats. Since 2012 and through our partnership, the shelter has placed hundreds of their most needy pets into loving military homes.
Crystal was sold, and describes our mission as “amazing.” She went onto the website for the Virginia Beach SPCA to view the cats they had available for adoption. One adult shelter cat caught her eye.
“So when I read about Sophie I knew she would be the cat for me.”
“…just the right amount of pet…”
Adopting a companion pet is a deeply personal experience. Some people need an always-there friend, while others prefer a pet who fits more easily into their busy lives. As it happens, Sophie strikes the perfect chord. She is there when Crystal needs her, but is otherwise extremely independent.
“Sophie allows me to feel complete without requiring a whole lot in return,” the Navy veteran explains.
Crystal believes that she and her adopted cat are well-matched because they are so much alike.
“Sophie is just like me!” she exclaims. “Most of the time she is in her own world, carefree, and very low maintenance. She can be playful, and she can also be detached. She will definitely let you know how she’s feeling.”
The adult shelter cat is typical of many of the feline kind. She seeks love and affection when she wants it, and entertains herself easily when she prefers to be alone.
“Most of the time she is in her own world, doing cat things, and rather not be bothered,” Crystal says. “When I come home from work she always comes to meet me at the door for a quick rub while I take my boots off, and then she’s gone as if she knows I’m tired and just wanted to say ‘hey’. Sometimes she will lay on my lap while I take a nap, which is really sweet.”
In the end, Sophie is not too little of one thing or too much of another. While she is not the dog that Crystal first imagined she would adopt, she is the perfect compliment to her busy Navy life.
“She is just the right amount of pet I need.”