In the world of pet adoptions, you often hear stories about "who really saved who," but in the case of veteran Army Sgt. Joh Marino, the cat he ended up adopting literally saved his life.
Like so many of the men and women who have served in the armed forces, Marino's time in the service left him permanently scarred. He suffered a traumatic brain injury in Iraq and had severe post-traumatic stress disorder. The mental anguish had become so great, that he decided to take his own life.
"I did not want to deal with it anymore," Marino says. "I took out one of my knives … I wrote a letter on my computer and went outside to smoke one last cigarette."
That's when he heard a rustling in the bushes outside the barracks at Fort Riley in Kansas. What he discovered when he went to investigate the source of the sounds changed not just his life, but the lives of many other veterans who were suffering just like him.
The sound was a quiet "meow," coming from a little black-and-white kitten hiding in the bushes. "He just walked up and started rubbing up against my leg and let me pet him, I broke down crying, burst into tears," recalls Marino. "Maybe he knew there was something I couldn’t quite handle."
To hear Marino tell it, the kitten saved his life.
"I stopped thinking about all my problems and started thinking about his problems and what I could do to help him."
The cat, now named Scout, helped Marino learn that he could still care for someone and let them care for him in return. He began feeding him every day... until one day, Scout failed to show up. Marino was heartbroken, but seeing the positive impact Scout had had on him, his new girlfriend eventually convinced him to go to an adoption event to get a new cat.
"All of a sudden a little black and white paw shoots out from a crate and starts smacking me in my left arm," recalls Marino after spotting Scout at the shelter. "I opened up that cage, and I pulled him out, and I held him tight."
It goes without saying that Scout was officially adopted on the spot. Marino credits Scout with him wanting to better himself by eating right, exercising, and quitting smoking.
After being discharged from the Army, Marino went on to marry his girlfriend, earn a master's degree in clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling, and start working at the Department of Veteran Affairs, where he hopes his story can help other disabled vets.
"In my opinion, real men like cats," he says.
H/T: Animal Channel