At 93-years-old, Navy veteran George Johnson is still a hero. His most recent deed saved the life of a senior German Shepherd
George served in the U.S. Navy in three wars – World War II, The Korean War, and The Vietnam War. During his WWII deployment, he received a “Dear John” letter from his then-sweetheart but found comfort in caring for dogs. George is particularly fond of white German Shepherds.
It had been a few years since his last GSD, Velebit, passed away, and lonely George craved the companionship he knew he could only get from a dog. He contacted the German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County seeking specifically another white GSD like his lost Velebit. At the time there were none in the rescue, but the director, Maria Dales, promised to keep in touch should she hear about an adoptable white GSD.
It was only a few days later that Maria contacted George. She had found a white GSD who was not only adaptable but in desperate need of a home. The dog was raised from a pup by a young man who had just been deployed, and his parents decided to surrender him while their son was gone. The senior GSD was in Arizona, and in immediate danger of being euthanized.
The fact that the dog had previously belonged to someone in the Navy sealed the deal for George. He told the Petco Foundation that he knew it was fate,
“She also mentioned that his owner was in the Navy and had been deployed so Sam had nowhere to go. A Navy man who had to give up his elderly dog to serve his country? It was meant to be. The two of us could grow older together, Sam and me.”
George knew he couldn’t stand by and let a fellow sailor’s dog be put down. He tells CBS News,
“The young fella that raised him was gonna join the Navy. And since I, an old retired Navy man with three wars under my belt, I figured nobody was gonna put his dog to sleep.”
As soon as George agreed to take Sam in, the rescue found a volunteer willing to make the drive all the way to pick Sam up and take him to George.
“When I met him it was love at first sight. Sam sniffed me a little and gave his approval as well.”
The two became fast friends. Sam was adopted instead of euthanized five years ago, and George hasn’t been lonely since.
“Sam has made a tremendous impact on my life. I have someone to love, someone to talk to, and someone to look after—and best of all, Sam won’t send me a “Dear John” letter. He sticks pretty close to me, never more than three feet away, so I know he’s looking out for me, too. I’ve received a few medals, ribbons, and commendations during my Naval career, but this dog fills my heart more than all of them put together. We like working in the yard; he’s very good at digging holes. Usually, we stick pretty close to home, but Sam LOVES going for rides. He pulls himself in the car one leg at a time to get into the backseat for our adventures. Riding brings him such joy.
“I spent 30 years in the Navy and I never forget that Sam’s previous owner was in the Navy defending our country. I am honored to be Sam’s caretaker and companion, and I don’t know what I’d do without him. He’s my best buddy and we share experiences and secrets. I think we’ve added years onto our lives by being together: Sam is now 13, and I’m 93. In dog years, we’re about the same age!”
George’s story was shared with the Petco Foundation, and earned the German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County a grant that will help them continue their good work!