Adopted Dog Helps Airman Find Love

From adoption to “I do,” Ranger was with Chris every step of the way.

Chris + Ranger

Being stationed away from family and friends in New Mexico inspired Chris to adopt a dog. Little did he know, he’d end up finding love at the shelter, too.

"She’s always said that the kindness and patience that were clear in my interactions with Ranger were the only reason she gave me a shot: we took the dogs hiking for our first date, and the rest is history."

Adopted Dog Ranger

Four years ago, I was a nobody from small town Louisiana with no idea where my life was going. I began seeking direction and joined the Air Force. I hoped to travel and see the world — instead they sent me to the middle of the desert of Albuquerque, New Mexico. While I wasn’t excited in the beginning, getting stationed here turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me.

After moving to Albuquerque, I was lonely and missing my family dog, so I decided to adopt one of my own. When I arrived at Animal Humane Society of New Mexico, I met Sue, the Senior Behavior Specialist. Sue took the time to get to know me, as she’d taken the time to get to know all of the pets in her care. After learning about my life, Sue suggested the dog she believed was perfect for me.

Adopted Dog Ranger

This dog, named Raji, was a stumpy, awkward, fearful hound puppy who Sue had spent weeks working with. While I was worried that there wasn’t that spark, that this puppy would never feel comfortable with me, I put my fears aside and decided to adopt. I re-named him Ranger, and today he is my best friend; I can’t picture life without him.

Ranger and I started going to a puppy playgroup organized by Sue. Little did I know, Sue wasn’t done playing matchmaker. She used puppy playgroup to get me to bump into her Behavior Department coworker, Jessica, who had also known Ranger. She’d seen Ranger at his most fearful, and unbeknownst to me, was blown away by the change in his behavior and the brave adolescent he’d become as I worked to build his confidence. She’s always said that the kindness and patience that were clear in my interactions with Ranger were the only reason she gave me a shot: we took the dogs hiking for our first date, and the rest is history.

Adopted Dog Ranger

Many dog hikes later, Jess and I just got married. Ranger was my Best Dog, and her dog, Boots, was the Dog of Honor. They stood by our sides just as they did on our first date.

Adopted Dog Ranger

After all of this, what strikes me most is that what made this happen was people who care. Sue took the time to get to know me and Ranger, and to learn about us both. She got invested in Ranger and made a connection — I will forever be grateful for that. My wife still works at the shelter, and that level of care and connection is something that I see day in and day out in the work that they do. They go above and beyond to give the pets in their care a chance at a family and a home.

Without this organization, I would still be a lost Cajun in the desert. I literally owe my wife, my best friend, and my life to this shelter. I didn’t just adopt a dog, I adopted the rest of my life.

Each year, the Petco Foundation invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Chris won Animal Humane Society of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico a 2019 Holiday Wishes award.