NASA astronaut Leland Melvin plays many roles. According to his website, he’s the only person to be drafted into the National Football League that’s flown in space.
Additionally, he holds a master’s degree, has contributed to numerous scientific journal publishings, and served as the co-chair on the White House’s Federal Coordination in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) Education Task Force.
Beyond all that, and perhaps more importantly, is Melvin’s role as a dad to his rescue pups, Jake and Scout.
Melvin is famously recognized for his unique NASA portrait. However, in his portrait, it’s not really him that stands out – it’s his dogs. Back in 2009, the astronaut was able to sneak Jake and Scout into his official NASA portrait and they didn’t quite behave. He shared a photo of the portrait on Twitter recently and it received just as much love then as it did back when it was first released to the public so many years ago.
According to Rover, Melvin explained how the photo came to be since NASA doesn’t allow dogs on site. He said, “I got to the guard shack, flashed my badge, and I gunned the van and drove to the photo lab.” He explained that after getting dressed into his bright orange suit, “They (the dogs) ran toward me, and I told the photographer to hold his finger on the shutter and that’s how the photo was born.”
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According to Gizmodo, Melvin welcomed Jake into his home first and adopted him as his first rescue dog. The dog had been neglected by his original owners and when Melvin met him he knew that the two needed to be together. Then, four years later on Thanksgiving day, someone alerted Melvin that his dog, Jake, was sitting outside his house. However, Jake wasn’t outside at all, but inside with Melvin.
Upon further investigation, Melvin discovered a dog just like Jake in his year. Rover reported that Melvin believed the dog had been dumped, so he took him in and named him Scout.
The three of them had awesome adventures together until both dogs passed away in 2014, Scout at 9 years of age and Jake at 15 years.
Melvin spent four years living without dogs, but around 2018 that changed. He was put on a waiting list with the Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue of America but was told that the rescue rarely received puppies. Surprisingly, he got a call just a week later informing him that he would be receiving a puppy soon!
Melvin named the new rescue pup Zorro and later rescued another pup named Roux. They now go by R&Z on Melvin’s social media, where he shares plenty of pictures of the dogs.
Rover shared that Melvin said, “Everyone needs an opportunity to exist in this world and that includes dogs too, or cats, any animal. It helps humanity when we take care of the children and the dogs and people who don’t have their own ability to take care of themselves.”
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