In honor of the 94th Veterans Day, a Long Island war Veteran, Joe Cipriano, was officially handed a leash for a service dog named Marlee, making him his official owner.
The emotional moment unfolded as a gesture of gratitude for the veteran’s dedicated service to the country.
Both Joe and Marlee were given a second chance and an opportunity to change each other’s lives at the same time.
“Marlee and I are tight buddies. He is my boy,” said Cipriano, acknowledging just how much this dog means to him.
A Priceless Gift
While Marlee is set to help Cipriano with daily challenges he encounters, the Marine Veteran is also supposed to help the 3-year-old Poodle overcome his own challenging past.
New York Community Bank, which sponsored the entire event, and Paws of War, an animal protection organization based in New York, made this possible.
Paws of War wrote in their Facebook post:
“Marlee is a poodle that was rescued by Paws of War, from a shelter in Meade County Kentucky, just days away from being euthanized. After an extensive evaluation, he was made available to become a service dog.”
After Marlee began his training to become a service dog, he was given a trial with Cipriano, which turned out to be a huge success.
Cipriano fell in love with Marlee as soon as they met, and the two bonded instantly.
Seeing how beautiful and amazing Marlee is, Cipriano was shocked to learn that this dog was actually rescued from the brink of death because nobody wanted him.
“He needed something as much as I needed something, and we are imprinted on each other in a way that I would never have thought it was possible,” Cipriano told PIX11.
The Two Buddies
Cipriano, a U.S. Marine Veteran, was honorably discharged from the Marines in 2010.
Since then, he has struggled a lot with mental health and dealing with day-to-day activities, but now, Marlee helps him every second of every day.
“There would be times when I was in the bedroom for days and wouldn’t come out, but that doesn’t happen anymore. Marlee has been the best thing for me and my family,” said Cipriano.
They go everywhere together, and he makes it possible for Cipriano to do things he was having a lot of trouble doing before.
“Marlee and I are tight buddies, him and I. He is my boy! He is an amazing living being, is what he is. He’s not even a dog. He instantaneously became a part of the family, and we became a part of his life as well,” said Cipriano.
During a surprise celebration, the COO of NY Community Bank, Julie Signorille, said how incredibly heartwarming it was to know that they have been able to change somebody’s life.
This would not have been possible without them and Paws of War. Unfortunately, according to the animal protection organization, there are many more veterans and first responders who are still waiting for a service dog of their own.