A new relationship with animals, nature and each other.

Returning Soldier Greets His Pit Bull in Hospital

By Andrea Nicholson, Fort Pierce, Florida

At last, the wait was over.

For seven months, Army Infantry Sgt. Rohn Hultgren of Port St. Lucie waited to come home. In May of 2011, he was hurt while serving in Afghanistan. Awarded the Purple Heart, he was hospitalized at Fort Campbell, in Clarksville, Tennessee.

His wife, Jenna, traveled to be by his side, but his best friend, DeeBoe, a 4-year-old pit bull terrier, couldn’t come along. “I had to stay in hotels,” explained Jenna, “and DeeBoe couldn’t go with me.”

Jodi Jacobsen, Rohn’s mother, called Dogs & Cats Forever for help. “This is the first time they had done anything like this,” said Jacobsen. “They agreed to take DeeBoe until Rohn was released from the military.”

Even though DeeBoe had lived with the Hultgrens since he was 4-weeks-old, his transition to shelter life was smooth, says Manager Cindy Szczudlo, possibly because DeeBoe was accustomed to female caregivers.

Finally, in January, Rohn, who had served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, was discharged. He and Jenna, along with Keyotoe, their 7-year-old pug, shared a happy homecoming with DeeBoe. “He cried: He knew Rohn right away,” said Jenna.

The reunion was bittersweet, however. Since Rohn’s discharge, the Hultgrens have been unable to find a rental home that will accept DeeBoe, one of a group of “bully breeds” that are banned by many landlords and homeowners associations.

Jodi Jacobsen believes that DeeBoe deserves better. She explained that while her son was serving his country, DeeBoe watched over Jenna. “When Jenna slept, he was up all night protecting her,” Jacobsen said. “When she was up, he slept.”

Keri Burgess, manager of RE/MAX Of Stuart, says that DeeBoe’s plight is not uncommon. “Landlords are nervous about renting to someone with a bully breed,” said Burgess. “They are worried about liability due to the breed’s reputation. Rentals are in high demand, and landlords have the upper hand with regard to tenant selection.”

She says landlords do have the option of charging extra when renting to pet owners.

DeeBoe currently lives with Rohn’s grandmother while the Hultgrens look for a place that will accept him. For now, however, they are satisfied to be close by. Said Jenna, “We are all a family again.”

This story was first submitted by Andrea Nicholson to TCPalm online, and published on their “Your News” page.