Elderly Man That Wants A Companion For His Last Years Gets His Wish Granted In A Very Unusual Way

Homesickness, heartbreak, lack of purpose? A dog can fix that. The best way to soothe a troubled heart can be adopting man’s best friend, and they say the moment you meet a dog, you can tell if it’s “the one” for the job. Though sometimes, without setting eyes on that wiggly tail or witnessing the playful tilt of the ears, you just know that a specific dog is your perfect match.

After the loss of his canine companion, one decorated veteran was ready to love a dog once again. He reached out to rescue groups in search of a very particular kind of pup, but fate intervened, and a rescue mission for a friend with a meaningful connection ignited immediate action.

George Johnson was no stranger to pet parenthood. Throughout his 93 years, he’d been blessed with many canine children and loved each one for their unique personalities and unwavering loyalties.

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 As a decorated Navy veteran, George spent a bulk of his life serving his country. He’d traveled the globe, crossing seas during World War II and the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Though his time in the navy was rewarding, he found himself tormented by loneliness.

While deployed, George received correspondence from his sweetheart back home that caused lasting damage. She’d penned one of those notorious “Dear John” letters, leaving George nothing but the rocking waves of the sea to soothe his broken heart.

Postal Museum

 When he returned to the States, George was still gutted over his past love. So, he took a gulp of the best medicine known to man: he adopted a dog. Then, after their chapter ended, he adopted another. George explained, “I found my peace through four-legged friends.”

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After the death of one of his particularly cherished pup, a white German Shepherd named Velabit, George took several years to mourn before getting back on the dog-dad wagon. Once he felt ready, the now elderly man made the call to the German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County.

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 George explained to the rescue’s director, Maria Dales, that he was searching for a white German Shepherd, but with one stipulation. Given his age, George was seeking a senior dog with whom he could share the remainder of his golden years.

OC Register

Senior dogs are notoriously overlooked in the adoption process. Most families aren’t ready to take on medical bills that might result from a dog’s age, or they aren’t emotionally prepared to help an animal comfortably leave the world. But not George; he welcomed an aged partner.

 Maria hated to disappoint George, but no dogs in their rescue matched his description. Still, his words stuck with her, “I was lonely,” he said. “I needed to have a buddy.” She promised George that if a white German Shephard in his elder years turned up, he would be the first to know.

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 It turned out George wouldn’t be lonely for much longer. Just a few days later, Maria received a call about a 13-year-old white German Shepherd in a desperate situation. This pup was all the way in Arizona, and there was a limited window of time to save his life. But he was perfect for George.

SoCal Dog Training / YouTube

See, the dog, named Sam, had belonged to a Navy man. Though the sailor wanted nothing more than for his aging dog to stay by his side, duty called, and he was deployed.

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The seamen tried to find his dog a loving home but ran out of time. Resorting to the shelter, Sam’s dad hoped someone would recognize the gentleness of the loyal old dog and make him a part of their family.

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A senior dog’s days in a crowded shelter are frequently numbered. The massive influx of dogs means certain facilities euthanize pets who are less likely to be adopted — millions of seniors, disabled dogs, and “bully breeds” are put to sleep each year.

Michigan Live

The standard holding period at a shelter is 72 hours. So, upon arrival, Sam was marked for potentially getting put down. Time ticked away, and Maria jumped into action, making phone calls to try and intervene and get Sam to safety.

Sun Sentinel

George learned of the silver-haired dog’s history and knew he’d found his match. “A Navy man who had to give up his elderly dog to serve his country?” George said. “It was meant to be. The two of us could grow older together, Sam and me.”

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Volunteers made the trek from Orange County to Arizona for Operation Rescue Sam. After days of confusion and worry, the dog wouldn’t have to worry about where his family had gone. Soon, an old man with a gentle smile would treat him like a spoiled king.

Petco Foundation

 The moment the two seniors locked eyes, it was pure love: “Sam sniffed me a little,” George said, “and gave his approval as well.” George brought Sam home and they instantly fell into a routine — taking cruises in the car and watching TV.

Once the ink dried on the adoption, George, bursting with gratitude for finding his fur pal, shared their heartwarming tale with the Petco Foundation. Quickly, they spread the sweet story of the war hero connecting with the senior dog of his dreams.

Since 1999, the Petco Foundation has been working to support rescue and shelter groups home as many orphaned animals as possible. So when they learned about the salty former seadog showing up for a senior shelter dog, the company wanted to get more involved.

The Forum News Group

Each year, the organization chooses a select group of special adoptees to share their stories and honors the organization who brought man and best friend together. Thanks to George, surrounded by news media, the Petco Foundation awarded the German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County $25,000.

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To top it off, the Petco Foundation gifted George and Sam a shopping spree at one of their stores — and a delicious cake. For George, the best prize was Sam. “I’ve received a few medals, ribbons, and commendations during my naval career,” he said, “but this dog fills my heart more than all of them put together.”

German Shepherd Rescue Orange County / Facebook

Dogs and military men go together like peanut butter and jelly. The toll that war takes on the psyche can be hard to describe, but dogs sense the emotional strain and don’t need words to provide unrivaled comfort. 

Lincoln Military Blog

George felt honor bound to rescue a fellow Navy man’s dog, but that’s only the beginning of the lengths a soldier will go to save a canine in trouble. One British soldier was profoundly impacted by a special dog, so he devised an intricate plan to see him again.

Entertainment Daily

After two tours in Afghanistan, Sean Laidlaw (left) figured he could handle anything Syria threw at him. But when the British Army deployed Sean and his comrades in the Royal Engineers in 2018, he leaped into a rescue attempt that he never saw coming.

Facebook / Sean Laidlaw

Sean was an expert at defusing and removing bombs. The Syrian Civil War had ravaged the country over the last several years, especially in the city of Raqqa. While many buildings crumbled around him, others still had undetonated explosives inside. 

Reuters / Erik De Castro

Even when Sean wasn’t on patrol, the army life was a grind. Exciting moments in the camp were few and far between, and troop morale suffered greatly. When Sean got a call to investigate a bombed-out school in February, he was almost grateful.

Tom Bonnett

As Sean patrolled the area, he couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary. When he really focused, however, he thought he could hear a faint whimpering somewhere under the rubble. Sean followed the noise and started digging.

Mercury Press and Media

It was a puppy! The canine, which appeared to be some kind of Asian shepherd mix, backed away from Sean as he reached out. Sean knew he had to do something to help the poor thing, but then a horrific sight made him recoil.

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A few other puppies surrounded the one Sean just found. Tragically, none of them had survived the collapse of the building. Now that the dog lost her family, Sean realized he couldn’t just leave her in the wreckage alone.

Pets 4 Homes

The pup still wouldn’t go near any strangers, so Sean did the sensible thing. He pulled out some water and a couple bites of food, and that was enough to draw the reluctant animal out from her hiding place.

Soon after, the orphaned canine let its guard down and allowed Sean to pick her up. There was an immediate bond. Sean decided to bring her back to base and introduce his new friend to all his squadmates. First, of course, she would need a name.

Mercury Press and Media

Sean called her Barrie, and she soon became a fixture in the Royal Engineers, barely ever leaving Sean’s side. Once she got settled in, Barrie accomplished quite a bit of good as well. 

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The Army interacted with a number of Syrian children, many of whom lost their homes and family members. Amid the chaos and destruction, having a friendly dog roam around made a big difference in their lives.

Times of Israel / Bilal Hussein

Sean also believes that having Barrie around gave him an escape from the stress and trauma of the military life. Whereas some of his comrades developed mental illness or PTSD, Sean at least had an outlet and companion. 

Incredibly grateful to have such a valuable friend, Sean said “I feel like it may come across that I saved Barrie’s life, but I feel like she saved mine.” They got so close that Sean could no longer imagine being apart from Barrie.

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Barrie became such a big member of the team that Sean decided to make it official and sewed together a custom bomb squad vest for Barrie. Aside from being a big fashion statement, the vest kept her protected from danger. However, it turned out that her biggest threat was right around the corner.

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In autumn of 2018, Sean received word that his stint in Syria was almost over. He was going home — but only with one ticket. What would happen to Barrie once he left? He didn’t know if he would ever see his dog again, or even if she would still have a home at the Army base.

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Sean’s comrades celebrated the entire trip back to the United Kingdom, but Barrie weighed heavily on his mind. Then, an idea popped into his head. He remembered hearing about a charity called War Paws that helped reconnect veterans with their military dogs.

War Paws workers seemed confident they could help Sean, but there were no guarantees. They instructed him to go to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris to await the arrival of a military plane. He waited nervously, hoping Barrie would be one of the passengers getting off.

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As the airline staff rolled out a dog crate, Sean recognized a familiar face peering through the door. Barrie made it to Europe after all! Holding back tears of joy, Sean reached out to hand her a gift.

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He got Barrie a new and improved vest! She took a look in the airport mirror to size up her new duds — and her new surroundings. The streets of Raqqa, Syria, were all Barrie had ever known, so Sean hoped she would adjust to British life easily enough.

Mercury Press and Media

With Barrie back in his arms, Sean returned home to Hornchurch, Essex. She settled in immediately — a far cry from the scared puppy that wouldn’t come out of the ruined school. Thanks to a stable home and steady diet, Barrie grew like a weed too!

Mercury Press and Media

A full-grown dog, Barrie continued to live happily with Sean. After going through so much together, there’s no doubt that this pair would never let anything split them apart ever again.

ITV / Ken McKay

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