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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : features : features May 24, 2016

5/8/2014 3:53:00 PM
"Pets for Patriots' partners with Verde Valley Humane Society
The Verde Valley Humane Society in Cottonwood has been approved by Pets for Patriots non-profit organization to help veterans and military families adopt pets.
The Verde Valley Humane Society in Cottonwood has been approved by Pets for Patriots non-profit organization to help veterans and military families adopt pets.
By: Jay Murphy, Linda Evans and Tessa Unwin
Volunteers with the Verde Valley Humane Society

Hi. My name's Zillie. I live at the shelter. I'm a big, young guy, part Rhodesian Ridgeback, and part lots of other breeds. I'm told that I'm very handsome! I smile most of the time, especially when I see my favorite dog walker, Jay Murphy, coming toward me with my leash. Today, as we ambled up the road toward Mingus Mountain, Jay had a serious talk with me. We've been working on commands (it's all playtime and rewards for me!), and apparently there is a serious purpose behind all the "sit, stay" stuff. I'm the first dog to be trained for the new Pets for Patriots program at the shelter.

The Verde Valley Humane Society (VVHS)/Adopt for Life Center for Animals in Cottonwood has been approved by the nationally-known Pets for Patriots non-profit organization to help veterans and military families benefit from pet ownership. VVHS is the only shelter in Northern Arizona working with the charity to assist in matching veterans and military families with a homeless companion animal. Through Pets for Patriots, the adoptive families receive coupons for pet supplies, discounted adoption fees and discounted veterinary care for the life of the animal through our approved veterinarian, Dr. Lana Holcomb at Montezuma Veterinary Services. Dr. Holcomb and the VVHS completed a screening and approval process with Pets for Patriots in order to become an authorized adoption site.

Veterans and military families are eligible. Simply apply through the Pets for Patriots website at: for their "authorization letter.' Bring the letter to the Humane Society at 1520 W. Mingus, then follow the standard adoption procedures. Staff and volunteers will help you find that perfect cat or dog. Eligible pets are those that are often over-looked in shelters: Cats and dogs over two years old, dogs over 40 pounds, and/or those with any health issues. Pets for Patriots has many success stories from their adopters, showing how the pets enriched their lives, helped their children deal with deployment separations, or helped them become more comfortable after their discharge from service.

The Verde Valley Humane Society and Pets for Patriots share a noble vision: To find loving homes for homeless animals, enriching the lives of both the adopter and the adopted pet. It's a win-win situation. And the good news keeps getting better. VVHS volunteers, who are veterans themselves, have been working with some of the larger dogs at the shelter, teaching them to have "good manners' and obey simple commands. At VVHS, there are over 100 cats and dogs eligible for the Pets for Patriots program. And so, we come back to Jay's conversation with Zillie:

"Zillie, you have been at the shelter for over a year. You have come a long way from the early days when you would knock me over coming out of your cage and then proceed to drag me down the walking trail. I have put a lot of effort into you and it is time to get serious about getting adopted. So let's talk about this new program. It's called Pets for Patriots and it aims to place special dogs with special people. You are a special dog and my fellow veterans that have sacrificed so much for this country are special people. Here's what makes you a good candidate for the program: Besides being well over 40 pounds, you have learned how to sit, lie down, stay, and "walk easy' without pulling. You seem to love jumping into my convertible so I assume you love car rides. Now all we need to do is work on some of your social skills.

I know you're a happy guy who loves people, but that cheerful chest bump you enjoy giving has to be toned down. Some people are not as big as I am and you will knock them over. You also have to stop acting so tough when people come to your kennel to look at you. First impressions are important, and to be honest, you don't always make a good one. I'm hoping a military veteran who has endured deployment will understand that you have also been through a lot in your young life and give you that one chance you need. And what is the story with children? Don't you know they can be your best friends? You have to learn to treat everybody as an individual and forget whatever happened to you in the past. Give new people, especially children, a chance at friendship. I know the "fighting like cats and dogs' thing is pretty much hardwired in you so we'll just have to try finding you a forever home without cats. However, you need to be a little more open to other dogs. You are not looking for a mate, just someone to hang out with. Lighten up a little and stop being so selective. Drop the macho attitude and assume the best.

Now, as far as your potential serviceman or woman go, your special person will be looking for someone to share their life with. They have probably gone through a lot in the past few years and just need a loyal companion. Someone to share both good times and bad. You are that special companion. So, keep that bright smile on your face, lather up that big wet tongue and be ready to give them sloppy kisses whenever they need one. Most of all, don't forget me and the things I taught you when you do go to your forever home. You are a great guy and I will miss you. Happy trails you big galoot, and do me proud."

I didn't understand all the words Jay was saying on our walk. But I felt his emotions: pride, anticipation and a hint of sadness. I hope I can live up to his expectations. Jay means a lot to me, and so can you. Please visit the shelter and ask for me: Zillie. Let's get this show on the road!

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