I served 10 years in the U. S. Marine Corps and did my combat training at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. We spent 12 – 14 hours in training every day, so it was often hard to relax in the evening. But, our unit was fortunate to have a canine team of German Shepherds on the base and their handlers would let us interact with them when the dogs weren’t working. You could see the troops change when they played with the dogs–these big, strong, hard marines sitting on the floor, being so gentle. You’d see a whole different side of a person. It took our minds away from the training by helping us to relax and calm down.
I returned to Hershey after my service and eventually began working for the Hershey Company. I was raised in Hershey, so it’s home for me. I’ve always had dogs in my life, so when my wife Linda and I decided to get another dog, we looked to rescue one first. That’s how we met King. Animal rescue originally found King and his sister in an abandoned house in Harrisburg. They thought he was dead because he wasn’t moving. When they moved King they did find a faint pulse. At the time, King weighed 24 lbs. and was estimated to be 1-year old.
We adopted King from the Humane Society of Harrisburg when he was healthy enough. He was so friendly that at first, we thought he belonged to one of the staff. We knew immediately that he was the dog for us. I was amazed by King’s will to survive; his gentle, friendly nature; and love of people, despite what he’d been through.
Our daughter, Katie, was my inspiration for wanting to share King with others. In 2014, she spent three weeks at Penn State Children’s Hospital. During her stay, she had an opportunity to have a therapy dog visit her and I saw how happy the dog made her. It was really special and made her feel better. I never forgot that. So, I took King to KPETS in Lancaster County and enrolled him in therapy dog training.
King weighed 75 lbs. when we adopted him. Today, King is 90 lbs. of unconditional love and my wife, daughter, son Billy, and I feel he is an important part of our family. What he loves most is coming to Penn State Health and Traditions of Hershey retirement community, where he shares his love of life with everyone. I hope King’s story inspires others to adopt dogs who are left behind and forgotten, but come back to show how much they have to offer.