AUSTIN, Texas - The Pet Supermarket on Wood Hollow Drive hosted two special canine guests on Friday.
Store locations around the country have been holding a summer fundraiser for the U.S. War Dogs Association which supports military dogs through the entire life cycle.
Bass and Gage, both retired military dogs, stopped by the Austin store for some free baths and treats.
"I love getting to take care of the animals we have here and help find them good homes and having the opportunity to support an organization that helps both active serving dogs and dogs that have retired from the service…they're amazing, and now we get to meet them in person," said Bonnie Taylor, store manager at Pet Supermarket.
The U.S. War Dogs Association is a nonprofit of more than 20 years with a variety of programs in place to assist military dogs and their families.
"I don't want them to have to choose," said Alex Schnell, a veteran, Bass’ owner and board member at USWDA. "‘Do I pull out a second mortgage to help my dog out medically because they're my best friend and have been through those combat situations with me?’ Or can the organization take that financial stress off of them."
It’s something Schnell and Bass have personally benefited from.
"Almost a year ago now, he collapsed. Suddenly they found out that he had a mass on his spleen that had ruptured. We did life-saving surgery, chemotherapy, and then a subsequent surgery later on down the road that has accrued probably anywhere around 30,000 worth of medical bills," said Schnell. "The organization has paid for every cent of that."
Veteran Alex Marquissee did a couple deployments with Gage before they were separated for a few years and then reunited in 2021 when Gage retired.
"I met him at the airport in San Diego, and he was super excited to see me, his whole body was wiggling," he said. "I opened up the front door of my house and I just unclipped him and let him run around, and he started searching everything like he normally would for a working dog.
Now, Gage is enjoying some well-earned R&R and learning how to just be a dog.
"Now he just pretty much naps for, you know, 10 hours a day and hangs out," said Marquissee. "It’s pretty cool to see him flip that switch from work to being retired."
To learn more about the U.S. War Dogs Association, click here.