At six years of age Cossack was an older dog waiting for his hero in a Virginia shelter. Little could he know that he would save a Navy veteran from a depression that threatened to derail her post-military life.
Around the world with the United States Navy
Molly enlisted in the Navy in 2007 and served until 2012. During her service she was stationed out of Norfolk, Virginia on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower CVN 69, where her job was launching aircraft as an Aviation Boatswain mate – Equipment.
Serving in the Navy was exciting for the young sailor, as her obligations took her around the globe.
“Having the opportunity to travel the world was the best experience of my life,” she shares. “Seeing different parts of the world and learning to appreciate the smaller, finer things in life.”
In 2012 Molly separated from the Navy with an Honorable discharge and attended college, where she received a degree as a certified surgical technician.
Life seemed to be going well for the Navy veteran, who was unaware that a storm was on the horizon.
Navy veteran looks for love in all the right places
By all accounts Molly had it made; the world was her oyster. In time, however, she became aware of changes that were as unsettling as they were unwelcome.
“When I got out of the service I was living by myself and slowly noticed I wasn’t the same person,” Molly says. “My friends were still serving and had just left for deployment.”
Compounding her isolation, Molly had no family in Virginia; they were all in Indiana. The Navy veteran needed an always-there friend – an anchor to ground her to a new and more positive reality. She visited the Virginia Beach SPCA, a Pets for Patriots adoption and veterinary partner that offers discounts for both pet adoption and pet medical care.
“I went to go look for a companion,” she said, “and fell in love with Cossack!”
Cossack was a six year-old red Pit Bull mix with little hope for adoption. He was older, he was a large dog, and he was a breed type that suffers countless cruelties because they are misunderstood. Most military bases ban Pit Bulls, as do many cities and municipalities.
Molly did not see a dog deserving of contempt, fear or discrimination; she saw an opportunity to love and be loved.
“It made me realize that not only did I need someone to save me, but I needed to rescue Cossack from living in a shelter for the rest of his life, since he was already six years old,” she says. “Older pets and pets with disabilities get looked over, and I truly believe we saved each other!”
An anchor in the storm
As of this writing it has been more than three years since Molly and Cossack were adopted. The pair moved to Indiana to be closer to Molly’s family, where together they live with Molly’s boyfriend.
At nine years of age Cossack is a senior dog. Yet even at the time of adoption he was a mature pup which, for Molly, was a distinct benefit. She appreciates that older pets are among those eligible for adoption through Pets for Patriots and our national network of shelter and rescue partners.
“Adopting through this program truly helps pets that are older and with disabilities have a chance of a new life,” she says, adding that the temperament of older pets is often more suitable to veterans who are looking for a reassuring presence in their lives.
In this and so many ways, Cossack does not disappoint.
“I love his personality. He truly has a sense of humor and is super smart,” Molly says. “Cuddling is my favorite after a long day of work.”
Giggles and cuddles aside, the Navy veteran credits her older companion dog with saving her life and unmooring her from the grips of a deepening depression.
“I adopted Cossack in 2013 and he completely changed my life for the better. Cossack made me get out of the house rather than falling into depression even further,” the Navy veteran shares. “He has made me get back into shape and just truly saved my life.”