Jessica + Disney

Pit Bull's Love Helps Soldier Adjust to Life after War

Jessica + Disney

After eight deployments in my 11-year Air Force career, including a final year in Afghanistan, I found myself in the most difficult transition of my life.

After the most intense experience of my career, I arrived home with an unexpected and overwhelming feeling of loneliness and depression that I was unable to shake. Coping with the changes of finding what a new “normal” would be, and returning to a changed reality and friends who had moved on without me, I struggled to face these challenges alone.

"Like me, she was alone and in need of someone to save her."

My return to the U.S. culminated with a move to California. I had always wanted to adopt a dog, but I was never home long enough or in one place to be able to have one.

After searching all the rescue groups in the area, I stumbled upon the Rotts of Friends Animal Rescue’s website and saw a picture and story of a pup who had been abandoned by her homeless owner when he moved on. Like me, she was alone and in need of someone to save her.

I had to meet her. Disney, a 40-pound pit bull, had loads of energy and that infamous pitty smile. As she pulled me along on the leash, I knew she was the one.

Disney is more than just a dog; she is my family. Military life can be very lonely. Now in my mid-thirties, as a single woman who has been doing this alone for over a decade, I have found a sense of purpose and joy, thanks to Disney.

When I first arrived in California, I was holding on to feelings of loneliness and depression from my long-term deployment. With the adoption of Disney, all of that vanished. Her companionship pulled me out of my depression and helped me establish a new normal. The tears have stopped, and the cuddles with her are endless.

Disney has been attached to my hip ever since. She’s chewed up flip flops, destroyed rolls of paper towels, but in the process has taught me patience and how great it feels to care for something other than oneself. She’s filled the hole in my heart and changed my life for the better.

It’s not always easy to handle a strong-willed, Type-A hard-headed lady, but she mirrors me, and we learn from each other every day. I’m so thankful for finding her and the changes she has brought to my life.

She has showered me with unconditional love and in the end, rescued me.

Each year, the Petco Love 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 Jessica Bishop won Rotts of Friends Animal Rescue in Woodland, California a 2016 Holiday Wishes award.