Today’s story is really heavy. Seriously, grab a box of tissues.
We have a video from Mutual Rescue,
“an initiative that aims to change the way people see animal welfare. By sharing stories about connecting a person with an animal, Mutual Rescue hopes to demonstrate that when you adopt from your local animal shelter, you’re not just enhancing an animal’s life—you’re also transforming a person’s life as well.”
The story we’ve decided to focus on features a man named Josh Marino, and his cat, Scout.
Josh is a veteran of the Iraq war.
The story begins with Josh being stationed in Southwest Baghdad during his tour.
Josh and his squad were attacked by mortar fire.
He was lucky to escape with his life! But he, unfortunately, suffered grave injuries, where
he sustained damage to his brain and developed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
From Psychology Today’s Dr. Melanie Greenburg:
“PTSD is a mental health condition that may involve disturbances in threat perception, threat sensitivity, self-image, and emotional functioning.
“It can cause serious disruption in the ability to have healthy, satisfying relationships or tolerate life’s uncertainties, failures, and rejections without excess distress.
“It can also cause phobias, sleep disturbance, negative mood, anxiety, and attention/concentration difficulties that interfere with academic or career success.”
Josh was developing really bad symptoms, but, as he points out, with an invisible wound, people have a tendency not to believe you.
Josh was nearing the end of his rope, and he didn’t want to deal with it anymore.
He grabbed one of his knives, wrote a good-bye letter on his computer and left it open. He went outside to smoke a final cigarette before ending his life.
But while he was outside in the rain, he heard a meow in the bushes!
That meow changed Josh’s whole life.
He saw a little black and white kitten in the rain, coming out of the bushes. The little kitten came right up to Josh!
“[Scout] started rubbing up against my leg and let me pet him.”
“Even before he was my cat, before he even knew me that well, Scout saved my life. He put me on a different path.
“He gave me the confidence to try to come back from all the adversity that I was feeling.”
But this isn’t quite where Scout became Josh’s best friend! Josh started feeding the cat every day, calling out to him, and getting familiar with him. He was, of course, still in an army barracks and couldn’t take the cat in all willy-nilly!
One day, Scout stopped coming around.
Josh was understandably devastated by the sudden disappearance of his new friend! But it had already started Josh on the healing process.
Josh began dating a woman named Becky, with whom he had attended highschool!
It wasn’t until a couple of months later that they saw an “adopt-a-thon” and decided to take a look at the animals! As they were perusing through,
Josh felt a tiny paw reach out and start touching his arm!
Josh looked inside the crate and, to his amazement,
He saw the same little black and white kitten who had saved his life!
Needless to say, Josh took him home without any hesitation!
About a year later, Josh and Becky were married and living in Pittsburgh! Becky already had three cats of her own, so with all of them together it was, as Josh describes, a big happy family.
Scout was beside Josh through all of it, improving his mental health and entire quality of life!
Josh stayed healthy, went to school, got his Master’s degree in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counselling and began helping veterans who need the same help that Josh got!
“Not really able to serve active duty anymore, but working with vets… I’m still serving, just serving in a different uniform.”
Josh attributes all of this to Scout’s role in his life and the support the cat offered!
Except one day, after coming home from work, Scout wasn’t acting quite right and was taken to the vet. There, Josh and Becky found that Scout had tested positive for feline leukemia.
About two weeks of getting spoiled with food, fun and love later,
Scout passed away in Josh’s arms as they were driving him to the vet.
“I don’t go a single day without thinking about him. I think about all the stuff that he afforded me the chance to do. […] he saved me, all I did was the paperwork.”
I can’t imagine how painful it must have been to go through an experience like that. Losing a best friend isn’t a pain anyone should feel.
Honestly, you should watch the video for yourself, Josh does the entire story infinitely more justice than I ever could. You can watch it just below. Don’t say I didn’t warn you to grab tissues!
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