At 93-years-old, Navy veteran George Johnson is still a hero. His most recent heroic act saved the life of an elderly German Shepherd.
George fought in the United States Navy during three wars: WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. He got a “Dear John” letter from his then-sweetheart during his WWII deployment, but found solace in caring for pets. George has a soft spot for white German Shepherds.
It had been a few years since his previous GSD, Velabit, died, and lonely George desired the company he felt only a dog could provide. He contacted German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County, expressly looking for another white GSD like his lost Velabit. There were none in the rescue at the moment, but the director, Maria Dales, promised to remain in touch if she heard of an acceptable white GSD.
Only a few days later did Maria approach George. She’d discovered a white GSD that was not only adoptable, but also in dire need of a home. The dog had been nurtured from a puppy by a young man who had recently deployed, and his parents chose to relinquish him while their son was away. The senior GSD was in Arizona and was on the verge of being euthanized.
The dog had previously belonged to someone in the Navy, which clinched the deal for George. He informed the Petco Foundation that he had a feeling it was fate.
“She also claimed that Sam’s owner was in the Navy and had been gone, leaving him with nowhere to go.” A Navy guy who had to abandon his aged dog in order to serve his country? It was fated to happen. Sam and I have the potential to grow old together.”
George felt he couldn’t stand by and watch as a fellow sailor’s dog was euthanized. According to CBS News,
“The young man who reared him was going to join the Navy.” And I assumed nobody was going to put his dog to death since I was an old retired Navy man with three wars under his belt.”
As soon as George decided to take Sam in, the rescue recruited a volunteer prepared to drive all the way to Sam’s house and deliver him to George.
“It was love at first sight when I met him.” Sam gave me a tiny sniff and nod of approval.”
They quickly became fast friends. George hasn’t been lonely since Sam was adopted rather than killed five years ago.
“Sam has had a huge influence on my life.” I have someone to adore, talk to, and look after—and, most of all, Sam will not write me a “Dear John” letter. He stays near to me, never more than three feet away, so I know he’s watching out for me as well. Throughout my Naval service, I’ve won a few medals, decorations, and commendations, but this puppy fills my heart more than all of them together. We enjoy working in the yard, and he is particularly skilled at digging holes. We usually stay close to home, although Sam enjoys going on rides. To get into the backseat for our travels, he pushes himself in the car one leg at a time. Riding gives him so much pleasure.
“I served in the Navy for 30 years and will never forget that Sam’s prior owner served in the Navy defending our nation.” I consider myself fortunate to be Sam’s caregiver and companion, and I don’t know what I’d do without him. He’s my best friend, and we share stories and secrets. I believe that being together has added years to our lives: Sam is now 13 and I am 93. We’re roughly the same age in dog years!”
George’s story was shared with the Petco Foundation, which resulted in a funding for the German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County to help them continue their excellent work!