All posts by Alisa Johnson, President & Co-Founder

Veteran’s Dog Needs Life-Saving Treatment

We’re reaching out with an urgent appeal to help us save the life of Rocky, a dog adopted to a veteran in 2013 through Pets for Patriots, our partner in saving at-risk shelter pets by adopting them to military families.

Rocky

Rocky has been diagnosed with a stage three fibrous tissue sarcoma, deeply embedded under his left eye and extending forward to the left jaw. His adopted mom, Mary, is an Army veteran who sought multiple consults with leading veterinary oncologists to determine the best course of action for her beloved dog.

“Since August 9, 2013 I have not felt alone, been lonely or clinically depressed. Rocky is the best antidepressant ever! If I could have even two more years of his unconditional love, it would be well worth ten times the money.”

All of the options presented to Mary were bad to worse; each involved expensive and invasive surgery to remove significant portions of his jaw and possibly his left eye as well, in addition to aggressive radiation which would cause his skin to degenerate.

But there is hope!

Mary took Rocky to an oncologist specializing in radiosurgery, a non-invasive way to deliver targeted radiation with precision similar to a surgical procedure, minimizing negative impacts to surrounding healthy tissue. The oncologist estimates up to a two-year survival time, but Rocky the Magnificent needs surgery right away. He is scheduled for a CAT scan on April 16 and his first radiosurgery session the following week.

This surgery will change Rocky’s prognosis from mere months to as much as two years.

The estimated cost of the procedure, and related tests, medication and follow up visits is $8,700, which includes a generous discount in recognition of Mary’s service. Mary herself has already spent thousands for various consultations and this would leave her financially – and emotionally – bereft.

That’s where Dogs on Deployment and Pets for Patriots are teaming up. Together, we’re fundraising to cover the costs of Rocky’s treatment, giving his quality time with his veteran, he otherwise wouldn’t have.

Your donations to our Pet Chit Program, which has granted over $202,000 in financial grants to military families, matter for pets like Rocky and veterans like Mary. Please give to help provide life saving treatment to Rocky.

GiveNow

Story was originally posted here at Pets for Patriots’ Wet Nose Blog.

2016 Military Pet of the Year and DoD Mascot

Article by Susan Nitka, DoD Writer & Editor, Military Tails Blog

Leonidas, or Leo for short, pictured above, happily attended to his Military Pet of the Year (MPOTY) 2015 duties while in the spotlight this past year. Surely, you must have seen him wagging, waving and smiling for the “puparazzi.”

It has been a banner year for our beloved Leonidas, the current mascot for Dogs on Deployment.

Going forward, did you know that your dog could be the next mascot? That’s right! Our annual Military Pet of the Year (MPOTY) competition has begun! During the annual MPOTY event, we invite all military members to proudly show off their pets, and their families. Then, together as a community, we will choose a new mascot dog to represent our mission.

Plus, the winner of MPOTY will receive some PAWSOME prizes from our sponsors, including being featured on DoD’s 2016 T-shirt design, have their pup’s face featured on Lazy Dog Cookie’s, gift cards from Tractor Supply Co, 1-year pet insurance plan with Pets Best Insurance, and more!

A Few Words About the Current MPOTY 2015 Recipient and Proud Owner

Pictured above is current mascot, Leonidas and his proud owner, Tim Johannsen. The Army soldier rescued this incredible dog from Afghanistan, where the two first met. With perseverance and patience, Leo ultimately arrived in the United States and was welcomed into his forever home with Tim and his wife, Kaydee.
Pictured above is current mascot, Leonidas and his proud owner, Tim Johannsen. The Army soldier rescued this incredible dog from Afghanistan, where the two first met. With perseverance and patience, Leo ultimately arrived in the United States and was welcomed into his forever home with Tim and his wife, Kaydee.

 

We chatted recently with Tim and Kaydee Johannsen (as well as Leonidas), who filled us in on what it has meant to have Leonidas be the 2015 MPOTY.

DOGS ON DEPLOYMENT: What about being the 2015 MPOTY was your favorite thing? 

THE JOHANNSEN FAMILY: “Our favorite thing about being the 2015 MPOTY was not only being a part of something big but it was also being a part of a new, amazing family. Dogs on Deployment is big, maybe not in numbers, but what they do is big! Dogs On Deployment cares about its Country’s military members and treats them like one big family. Just helping one makes a difference and they help thousands. So when you consider that difference, we are so proud to have been a part of it!”

DOGS ON DEPLOYMENT: How did the Military Pet of the Year program allow you to raise awareness for responsible pet ownership? 

THE JOHANNSEN FAMILY: “Throughout 2015, Tim, Leo’s Daddy, was gone for more than nine months of the year for short deployment, trainings, PCS. No matter what, Leo was kept safe and always there for his Daddy when Tim returned home. We hope by sharing our lives with others they see that giving away your pet during a difficult time is NOT always the answer, especially with Dogs On Deployment around!

Also, we shared our day to day about Leonidas’ health (Addison’s Disease and ACL surgery) with everyone. Although Leo was protected under pet insurance, the insurance does not cover his Addison’s and did not cover the surgery. We hope as well that by sharing out personal health issues with others that it encourages them to think outside the box when their dog becomes ill or injured. They don’t have to give up their family member. And we loved that with the ACL surgery we got to do a plug on Dogs On Deployment amazing Pet Chit program!

Our main mission was educating others about the animals that our military members find while overseas. The presence of just one dog can save a soldier’s life while deployed, whether on an emotional or physical level, so we hope that we were also able to show how important an organization like the Puppy Rescue Mission (PRM) is to our military members overseas. Dogs On Deployment and PRM make the best combination of non-for-profits to donate to, with Dogs On Deployment protecting on the home front, and PRM protecting overseas for our US Military Members and their furry ones!”

DOGS ON DEPLOYMENT: What advice would you have for 2016’s mascot? 

THE JOHANNSEN FAMILY: “Our advice for the 2016 mascot would be to be prepared to witness kindness all around you. Seeing and being involved in everything Dogs on Deployment does will really fill your heart! Also be prepared to take lots of selfies and photos to post, since the ladies absolutely love pictures of the mascot!”

DOGS ON DEPLOYMENT: What about MPOTY was most meaningful to you?

THE JOHANNSEN FAMILY: “MPOTY allows for a new theme for Dogs on Defense to focus on each year. Although Leonidas would LOVE to be the mascot forever, Leo values awareness for all causes and is very excited to see who the next mascot will be! MPOTY is not just about the mascot; it’s about connecting with fans and educating them on responsible pet ownership and what Dogs on Deployment does. For us, sharing our knowledge is the most meaningful thing. ”

The Application and 2016 Contest Entry Process

Your application must include:

  • Documentation proving military status
  • Basic information
  • A photo to be used for the contest, and
  • 500 written words on why your dog should be chosen as Dogs on Deployment’s 2016 Military Pet of the Year and Mascot.  This essay will be used as a caption for your dog’s photo during voting.

Examples of topics for your essay are:

  • How did you get the dog in the first place?
  • What are some difficulties you’ve had caring for the dog along with your service commitments?
  • Any illness/accidents your dog has overcome?
  • How do you exhibit being a responsible pet owner in the military, etc.?

Your entry will be reviewed by the Dogs on Deployment Board to ensure compliance with the contest entry requirements listed below. Any entry not meeting these requirements will be disqualified from the competition. Entries may be made beginning January 16th at 7 am EST, and may be submitted until January 31st at 7 pm EST, at which time the contest is closed to any and all submissions.

Voting begins February 6th at 7 am EST, and closes on February 16th at 7 pm EST. During this time, each person is allowed one vote within a 24-hour period.  The Dogs on Deployment Board will then pick the winner from the top three finalists receiving the highest amounts of popular votes. The winner is announced on March 1st at 12 pm EST.

MPOTY Contest Entry Requirements and Code Overview

Entry and Photo Requirements

  • Dogs only
  • May be any adult breed dog (over 1-year-old)
  • Dog must be spayed or neutered unless involved with responsible dog showing or breeding
  • Dog must be owned by an active duty or reservist military member or honorably discharged veteran
  • Dog must be a family pet whose owner meets our “Code of a Military Pet Owner” (see below)
  • Photo must be high resolution; prefer no phone photos, +200dpi, larger than 1200px x 1200px print quality
  • Portrait or candid style photo of military owned dog
  • No more than two dogs may be shown in the photo for a single entry
  • No humans allowed in photo
  • Professional photographs preferred
  • Photo must be original to owner
  • Photo permissions must be given to Dogs on Deployment for reuse
  • Contestants may not pay for votes, or use online pay-advertising to promote voting
  • Winners must be willing to be photographed in uniform with your dog for Dogs on Deployment imagery
  • Winners must be willing to maintain a Facebook page for Dogs on Deployment’s 2016 Military Pet of the Year and Mascot for one year
  • Winners must be willing to attend local events and speak on behalf of Dogs on Deployment to potential media contacts

Code of a Military Pet Owner

I’m a US Military Member and pet owner. I promise to always have a plan for them. I promise never to abandon them. I promise to keep them healthy and vaccinated. I promise to spay or neuter them. * I promise to train and socialize them. I promise to love them as unconditionally as they love me. I promise to be a good pet owner while serving my country. I promise this.

Good Luck one and all!

>>> ENTER NOW

Sandra, Phoenix Military Liaison, Awarded Volunteer of the Quarter

Dogs on Deployment is an organization which is completely staffed by volunteers and without our volunteers, our mission wouldn’t be possible. Each person that supports Dogs on Deployments shares a few things in common: compassion, motivation, and honor. Each quarter, our Board of Directors chooses one of our many volunteers to be recognized for their genuine contribution, steadfast volunteerism, and unwavering support of our service members and their pets.

Sandra (center), with Redneck Run sponsor, Darryl, Tuscon Coordinator, Mandy, and Southwest Coordinator, Beth.
Sandra (center), with Redneck Run sponsor, Darryl, Tuscon Coordinator, Mandy, and Southwest Coordinator, Beth.

We are proud to announce that Sandra is the recipient of our “Volunteer of the Quarter” award for the fourth quarter of 2015. Since May 2014, Sandra has been an integral member of the Dogs on Deployment team. Sandra first began volunteering with Dogs on Deployment’s Phoenix Chapter as the Military Liaison. As a US Air Force and National Guard veteran, she was looking to get involved with an organization that would fulfill her desire to help both animals and the military community. Sandra has been instrumental to the development and growth of the Arizona Chapters. Through Sandra’s hard work, networking and constant encouragement, Sandra has enabled Dogs on Deployment to participate in  many local events, including the Red Neck Run, Kiss Me I’m Irish Run, 12Ks of Christmas, Parrot Head Charity of the Quarter, Travis Manion 911 Run and AZ Standdown benefiting homeless veterans  With Sandra’s help at these events and others, the Phoenix Chapter has raised over $17,000 in the last two years.

Sandra not only recognizes the benefits of coordinating large events for maximum exposure for Dogs on Deployment, but she also understands that connecting directly to the military community is the core of our existence. Sandra dedicates her time to personally attending pre-deployment briefs, base events and reaches out to local veteran organizations, such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion, to help spread the word directly to those who need our services. She uses her experience as a veteran, and her love for animals to educate and spread the mission of DoD.

Sandra being interviewed on her local news station!
Sandra being interviewed on her local news station!

Not only does Sandra provide valuable support to Dogs on Deployment’s community efforts, but she also goes a step beyond by boarding two dogs through the network, Nahla and Raven, whose Army owner needed support during a deployment.

Due to her hard work, contagious positivity, and strong dedication, we are sincerely proud to call Sandra a team member of Dogs on Deployment!

Volunteer Spotlight: Amanda

At Dogs on Deployment, the only thing we love as much as animals, is the people who take care of them. That’s why we like to tell you about the volunteers who make us tick! This month, let’s talk about Amanda Beck, our Rhode Island Coordinator since 2014.

amanda dog 3Amanda, is an IT project manager by day, and a bridal consultant by night. But, her passion for both the military and animals is what drives her to volunteer with Dogs on Deployment. Her boyfriend, Josh is in the Massachusetts Army National Guard, both her grandfathers were in the Navy, and she grew up with a lot of military influence in her family. She says she “understands the sacrifices our service members make.”

Additionally, her cousin, Lt Michael Patrick Murphy was killed in action, in 2005. He received the Medal of Honor, posthumously. She says that he was her motivation behind her search for a “worthy military organization that I could dedicate my life to.”

amanda dog1 copyPlus, she grew up with dogs. She has a 10-year-old bichon/schnauzer mix named Bubba, and a 10-year-old American Eskimo/Cocker Spaniel mix named Pepper, who live with her parents on Long Island. She shares a rescue named Mara, a 9 month-old German Shepard/Lab Mix, with her boyfriend.

She says that growing up with dogs, she knows that there is nothing more unconditional than the love of an animal. “They were my best friends, my protectors and my sunshine on bad days.” Also, she says, “I see pets as family, not just animals.”

Amanda says that when her cousin was killed in action, there was a lot of publicity surrounding his death. As she sought places to volunteer her time, she says that she had a hard time finding respectable organizations that didn’t take more money than they gave.

amanda dog2When she found Dogs on Deployment, she was immediately impressed with DoD’s 100% volunteer force, their image, their mission, and their financial reports. She describes herself as “honored” and “privileged” to be a part of Dogs on Deployment. And you can’t blame her, not with special memories like her first event with DoD: Dogapalooza.

“While I was chatting with a woman and her husband about what we do, another lady came running out of nowhere, tears in her eyes and gave me this huge hug. She told me that we were the reason that her son was able to keep his dog.” The woman went on to tell Amanda that her son’s dog had been a life-saver for her son, that he’d suffered PTSD, and the dog had been vital to his recovery. Amanda has come to realize how important her work really is.

“It was at that point [that] I realized how impactful DoD has already been in the few short years it has existed. Knowing that, because of DoD, a soldier and his dog are still both living a happy life together makes me feel so good about what I do,” says Amanda.

Amanda encourages anyone, and everyone, to get involved with Dogs on Deployment, whether through their local chapter, or through fostering. “There are so many opportunities to volunteer,” she says. “Find the ones that fit you best!” She says to talk to your local coordinator and find out what they need and you’ll be amazed at how you can help.

DoD Awarded Foster Organization of the Year on Fox’s All-Star Dog Celebration

Dogs on Deployment was founded in 2011 by dual-military couple, Alisa and Shawn Johnson. Armed by a group of nearly 100 volunteers across the country, DoD is the definition of a grass-roots cause. Active duty service members, military spouses, veterans and civilians with friends or family who have served are the back bone of this organization. Each volunteer is special in their own way and contribute to the overall success of the organization; but no one here is famous, no one here is a celebrity. So imagine our excitement and honor when we found out our organization was going to be recognized by some of Hollywood’s A-list celebrities!

Dogs on Deployment has been named Foster Organization of the Year by the All Star Dog Rescue Celebration, hosted by Fox Network. As a national non-profit, our organization seeks to connect deploying service members with volunteers, known as DoD Boarder, who are willing to board their pets during their service commitments. We are the nation’s largest foster network serving military personnel, and have helped over 800 military pets find temporary care during their owner’s service obligations.

IMG_9934-sm
Shawn and Alisa Johnson, founders of Dogs on Deployment, and Corynn Myers, Public Relations Director, accept the award for Foster Organization of the Year.

President Alisa Johnson, Vice President Shawn Johnson, and National Public Relations Director Corynn Myers accepted the award on behalf of the Dogs on Deployment organization and all the faithful volunteers around the country, presented by popular country band, Florida Georgia Line. The show was a star-studded adventure. Hosted by Kaley Cuoco, star of Big Bang Theory, the red carpet was star studded with many animal-loving supporters like Kathy Griffin, Cesar Millan, Paula Abdul, Emmy Rossum and more! Even several internet-famous dogs made an appearance. Tune in to see your favorites!

The show, airing Thanksgiving night, Thursday, Nov. 26 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX, “will honor select organizations and everyday citizens who are on the frontline of the rescue movement by helping to save, care for and find loving homes for the more than eight million animals that enter shelters each year. Throughout the two-hour family-friendly special, celebrity guests will introduce the audience to adoptable rescue dogs and honor the people who dedicate their lives to caring for animals in need.”

IMG_9946-edit-sm
Founders, Alisa and Shawn Johnson, on the red-carpet at the All-Star Dog Rescue Celebration.

“It was an incredible experience and honor accepting the award on behalf of our volunteers with Dogs on Deployment. As you tune in to watch, I ask everyone to remember our deployed men and women in uniform who are not with their families this holiday. May our love reach them wherever they serve,” says Alisa Johnson.

Tune into FOX Thanksgiving Day at 8/7 c to watch The All-Star Dog Rescue Celebration, and see Dogs on Deployment presented the Foster Organization of the Year Award!

Volunteer Spotlight: Carla

There are many reasons people volunteer for Dogs on Deployment; it’s a passion, a calling, or they just like dogs, cats, and animals; or they like helping service members. But, there are also many reasons why people may feel hesitant. Perhaps they are worried about the impact to their daily lives. Perhaps they are afraid they won’t be able to handle something intangible about it.

sara gunnarWell, there’s no reason to wonder what the experience is like for a single moment longer. Carla, one of our tried and true DoD boarders is here to share her wisdom with you about the ins and outs of what the experience is really like. We “sat down” with Carla (hey, email interviews count, right?!), and decided to share her experience with you, to help you get a better idea of the whole process! She worked, most recently, boarding Gunnar, which she’ll talk about below:

Carla, why did you sign up to be a DoD Boarder?

Dogs on Deployment combines two of my greatest passions:  supporting those who serve in the military and helping animals.

Do you have any military experience or relationships? What motivates you?

On the military side, my dad is a Vietnam Vet, and I grew up with a deep respect those who served.  I remember going to POW/MIA events a young adult and always attending Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day Services with my family.  This instilled in me a desire and support our veterans in whatever way I could.  As I got older, I donated to military organizations and sent care packages to our troops.

On the animal welfare side, about ten years ago, I also started volunteering with rescue organizations.  I always had pets growing up (dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs and fish), so it seemed like a natural thing for me to foster animals and help to find them homes.

When I learned about Dogs on Deployment, I was thrilled!  I thought – here is my chance to do exactly what I want to do!  Help our military service people and also help animals! Luckily, my husband, Jon was also completely on-board when I told him about the program. Once we decided that we could do it, we signed up, immediately!

How long did it take before you were contacted by Gunnar’s owner? Or, did you contact him first?

Jon and I had a Dogs on Deployment dog named Axle for our first board[ing] [experience] and it was awesome!  We had a reunion with Axle in his dad, James, in June, and we knew that we wanted to have another dog, starting in September.  So, as soon as Axle and James were reunited, I started looking at the website to see who needed someone to board their pet.  There are always multiple factors to consider, so I wanted to start looking early to ensure we could help someone.

 

gunnarWhat was it about Gunnar that interested you? Why did you want to help Gunnar?

One thing that I am most impressed by in reading the potential boarders profiles is how honest they are about their pets.  When I read Sara’s description of Gunner, I thought he would be a great fit for our family, and time-wise, it was very convenient.  Also, Gunner is a big dog, and I know that a lot of people might not feel comfortable, or have the space for a larger breed.  Luckily, we have the space, and we love big dogs!  I reached out to Sara and offered to meet up with her to see if Gunner would get along with our dog, to see if she would feel comfortable with us as a boarder, and to see what Gunner was like in terms of personality and training.

 

**Dogs on Deployment recommends this meet and greet as a standard first step towards ensuring a successful boarding experience, especially in homes that already have pets. Carla, as an experienced boarder, was definitely on the right path to a successful experience by not only ensuring that Gunnar and her dog would get along, but that Sara felt comfortable with the environment. (INSERT LINK ABOUT MEET AND GREET)

 

Tell us about your first encounter with Gunnar and his owner?

Honestly, the first meeting is a little strange; it’s like a blind date!   We had exchanged emails and a few texts with pictures, but even with that, that first meeting is nerve wracking and everyone is nervous!  It is a very overwhelming feeling as a boarder to think “Ok, this dog might be living with me for the next few months!” and I’m sure on the opposite, the owner is thinking “Can I really leave my most prized possession with these people?”

 

Sara lives in San Diego, so she drove up with Gunner and one of her friends.  We took the dogs on a walk and we showed Sara the park where the dogs play, the daycare Gunner would go to once a week with our dog, and let the dogs (and us) get to know one another.  We tried to give her a sense of “This is what your dog’s life will be like if he stays with us.”

 

Then, comes the awkward part – the conversation of “Yes, this is a match!” or “No, it isn’t!”  Luckily for us, it was a match!  Gunner and our dog, Donovan, got along fine, and once Jon and I had spent some time with Gunner, we knew he was a happy-go-lucky guy and he would be fine in our family.  We filled out the contract* and after that, we went to lunch and celebrated!

 

**Dogs on Deployment strongly recommends a contract between boarder and owner. It protects the interests of both parties regarding financial responsibilities, care and other questions.

 

I have to say, that one of the most beautiful aspects of DoD is that fact that it’s all about trust and goodwill.  I think it might be hard for a pet owner to believe that someone is willing to watch their animal, love them like their own with no “reward,” but with DoD, that is exactly the case.  As boarders, we know what we are doing is a genuine service, but we feel that the greater service is being done by the owner as a member of our military.  Watching their pet pales in comparison!

 

Did you have any integration issues or problems with Gunnar? Or did he immediately “fit right in?”

There is always a bit of transition time with any new pet.  Gunner had to get used to our schedule, the random noises that he wasn’t used to hearing, living with another dog, but overall, he is a really sweet boy who with minor training (not being allowed up the bed, for instance) has adjusted very well.

 

Describe your daily routine with Gunnar? How has your life changed because of Gunnar’s presence?

 

Our life has really not changed that much at all.  Instead of walking one dog, we walk two.  Instead of feeding one dog, we feed two.  The jump from one dog to [two] isn’t that much different.  Actually, my husband and I joke that now we both have dogs to cuddle and belly-rub, so overall, it’s fun for us to have more love to share!

 

Has it been difficult or easy, or somewhere in between being a DoD Boarder?

Some days are hard; some days are easy.  Such is life!  Are there days that I wish Gunner would sleep in a bit more?  Yes.  But, when he’s curled up in ball, super-cute on the couch, or playing tug with Donovan, or just looking at you with that face…we can’t help but melt!!  And, even on the days that are rough – that fact is, I’m not the one on a Navy vessel protecting our country – so that idea always puts our complaints in perspective.  Also, I know that Sara is completely and utterly grateful, and that without us, who knows what would have happened to Gunner?  When I think about that, the not sleeping in isn’t that big of a deal!

 

How do you keep in touch?

Sara actually just left, so I haven’t had any contact with her now that she is deployed.  Before she left, I would text her pictures and videos, and I created a hashtag for her to follow on Instagram called #gunnerisgreat so she can follow his adventures.  With James (Axel’s dad), email was the best way to communicate, so I will more than likely email her pictures to keep her posted on Gunner.  I try to send something at least once a week.  James always said those emails were the highlight of his week, so I am hoping to do the same for Sara.

 

How will the reunion make you feel?

 

I’ll DEFINITELY cry!  I can’t want for Sara to be back safe, and have her dog by her side again.  Gunner is going to LOVE seeing his mom and I think he will be a total spaz!  For us, the reunion is the best gift of all!

 

Any closing thoughts:  

A lot of people tell us what we are going is wonderful, and for our boarders it is, but it is for us too!  We love being able to give back and support to our vets.  I always tell people that ask, if you are willing to open your heart and home, this experience will change your life in all the best ways possible.  I encourage everyone to look on the DoD website and find a pet that matches their family!  Our vets deserve to have their animals taken care of, because they are the ones taking care of us!

This story has been brought to you by PetSmart: We are proud to support our veterans and their pets. At PetSmart we love pets, and we believe pets make us better people. PetSmart will be the trusted partner to pet parents and pets in every moment of their lives.

At PetSmart, we believe in supporting organizations that make communities vibrant and strong,” said Jennifer LaPlante, district leader for PetSmart. “We’re proud to partner with Dogs on Deployment in an effort to enrich the lives of more people through the power of pets.”

PETSMART-logo

 

 

 

Amy, Rochester Coordinator, Awarded Volunteer of the Quarter

Dogs on Deployment is an organization which is completely staffed by volunteers and without our volunteers, our mission wouldn’t be possible. Each person that supports Dogs on Deployments shares a few things in common: compassion, motivation, and honor. Each quarter, our Board of Directors chooses one of our many volunteers to be recognized for their genuine contribution, steadfast volunteerism, and unwavering support of our service members and their pets.

We are proud to announce that Amy, our Rochester Coordinator, is the recipient of our “Volunteer of the Quarter” award for the third quarter of 2015. Since August 2014, Amy has been an integrated member of the Dogs on Deployment team. As the founder of the Rochester Chapter, there was no support system or contact network for Amy to work from. Within just of a few months of volunteering with Dogs on Deployment, Amy had committed to over six events, had several educational presentations scheduled and partnered businesses willing to assist in fundraising. Her start as a Coordinator was strong, and has not yet wavered.

Amy awarded Volunteer of the Quarter by her local volunteers.
Amy awarded Volunteer of the Quarter by her local volunteers.

Amy’s efforts were immediately noticed after securing a $1400.00 sponsorship from Pet Savers Superstore after just weeks in her position. One of her first major events was the Rochester Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, where her and her volunteers built and decorated a float. Despite the rain, their presence made such an impression that Amy was later interviewed by Time Warner Cable. These achievements were just a few of the many that were noticed by Amy’s peers and leadership.

An event that nearly ended in disappointed and disaster, was Amy’s planned Painting with a Twist Fundraiser. After seeing successes in other Chapter’s activities, Amy was determined to schedule a Rochester class. After weeks of planning and coordinating, the event vendor cancelled at the last minute. This was a time of tested patience and character; Amy could have given up, she could have let the situation demotivate her. Instead, Amy pulled the event together in less than 48 hours. In the end, Amy’s fundraising event raised nearly $800.00, and set a shining example to other DoD Volunteers how to overcome challenges, and make the best of the worst.

Amy has hosted several successful events, including a parade!
Amy has hosted several successful events, including a parade!

Previous to opening the Rochester Chapter, Dogs on Deployment was relatively unheard of in the New York State area. As a wife to a disabled veteran, mother of two Navy sailors, member of the Blue Star Moms, and dog owner to four, Amy understood her target audience and worked tirelessly to ensure that Dogs on Deployment’s mission was spread to those who would need help, and those that would want to help. Rochester is the center to a large Coast Guard base, recruiting stations, reservists and a large veteran population. Amy worked to present at the base, make personal connections with many of the local recruiters, and local veteran groups. There have since been 25 successfully Deployed Pets in the Rochester area.

Due to her hard work, contagious positivity, and strong dedication, I am sincerely proud to call Amy a team member of Dogs on Deployment.

Keep up the good work. We look forward to your continued support for many years to come.

Pet Chit Success Story: Eevee is Back with her Daddy!

Ian adopted Eevee in May of 2014 when a military couple needed someone to take her because of an impending deployment. It was love at first sight, when he met her at a park near his station at Wright Patterson AFB. They have been close companions ever since.

12106940_10152937211491706_3254353600275523873_nBefore Ian met Eevee, he struggled with high levels of stress from his job. Like many of our soldiers, his sacrifices for our country were taking a toll on him, and he was finding it more and more difficult to recover. Once Eevee came into his life, Ian found it easier to cope with the demands that were placed on him.

He recalls, “since I have had Eevee in my life, she [has] help[ed] me actually get to sleep. She wakes me up from nightmares if and when I have them, and provides me with the comfort I need. Not to mention her silly smile and personality whenever I am down. She has been there for me for over a year now, and means the world to me.”

While Ian was stationed at Wright Patterson AFB, he coincidentally met the Midwest Dogs on Deployment coordinator. He was walking out of the commissary with dog food when they just happened to cross paths. They spoke for a few minutes and the coordinator wished Ian luck with his impending PCS (Permanent Change of Station) and gave him his DoD card.

Ian had orders to Germany. He emphasized how PCSing is one of the most hectic and stressful times in a service member’s career. When being shipped overseas for an extended tour, it can put a family into even more distress.

During his out-processing, Ian did not become aware of the quarantine procedures for shipping Eevee to Germany, until it was too late for him to handle it himself, or with the military’s help.

Soon, Ian was overseas, and distraught at the idea of having to give Eevee up forever. Then, he remembered Dogs on Deployment. He quickly contacted the Alabama chapter for help.

12144738_871293966273195_7940804953309957591_nOnce Ian signed up on the website and had contacted his local chapter, Dogs on Deployment started working to help him. They encouraged him to sign up for a Pet Chit to get financial assistance to help offset the cost of sending Eevee overseas.

In the meantime, Larabeth, a local DoD boarder was able to board Eevee for the two weeks it would take to get her ready to leave. Eevee came to stay with Larabeth, and her dog, Elsa. After their initial meeting, they got along great, and had a blast. During her stay, Eevee also got to meet other dogs, and played at the local park.

Larabeth says that “she was a delightful houseguest, and when it was time for her to go, it was a bittersweet goodbye.”

Once he applied for a Pet Chit, DoD granted him $1500 toward her trip. However, after Ian got a bit more information, regarding the quarantine rules and travel costs, he discovered that the cost of Eevee’s trip was going to be more expensive than he originally anticipated. The Local Alabama Chapter of Dogs on Deployment came to the rescue, raising additional money to help support the original $1,500 grant.

The community rose to the occasion. Between combined donations from booths at Tractor Supply Company’s Pet Appreciation Event, and a quilt raffled off at the Dog Days (Nights Too!) event, the Alabama chapter was able to raise another $300 for Eevee’s travel expenses.
eevee and doctor stipes2For anyone unaware, sending a dog overseas is an arduous and tedious process. Dr. Stipes, at Oak View Animal Hospital, carefully handled the paperwork to make sure that everything was in order and handled within the 48-hour time frame allotted, prior to Eevee’s transport.

Thanks to Dr. Stipes’ hard work, and Larabeth’s trip to the USDA office to get the papers endorsed, the overseas customs process went smoothly. And now, Eevee has safely arrived to Germany to be with Ian!

Larabeth says, “even though it was a very quick board, it was satisfying to know I helped Eevee be able to stay with her ‘forever family’. I will always love her, and I am looking forward to helping someone else the next time I am able!”

Ian’s advice to other military pet parents is, “to be as proactive as possible when PCSing with a pet. Ask questions as early as you can and seek out the information. The PCS process is arduous and if you don’t actively seek it, information can be left out by mistake. The consequences of not doing so can be detrimental to your pet and yourself. If something does happen, I highly recommend contacting Dogs on Deployment. You might be surprised at how much they may be able to assist you.”

This story is brought to you by PetSmart: We are proud to support our veterans and their pets. At PetSmart, we love pets and we believe pets make us better people. PetSmart will be the trusted partner to pet parents and pets in every moment of their lives.

“At PetSmart, we believe in supporting organizations that make communities vibrant and strong” said Jennifer LaPlante, district leader for PetSmart. “We’re proud to partner with  in an effort to enrich the lives of more people through the power of pets.

PETSMART-logo

Emergency Pet Boarding: Did you Know?

Every year, disaster strikes various parts of the country. Tornado alley during storm season. Hurricanes along the Eastern Seaboard. And, with weather getting more and more violent and unpredictable, it’s only smart to be prepared.

12065612_866507023418556_1625893803527395919_nOne of the parts of the country often hit hardest with disaster is California. Between earthquakes and wildfires, animals can easily be displaced, due to disaster.

We have written about emergency preparedness before, but did you know that, as a military member, displaced by emergency, you can post your pet for emergency fostering?

Register your pet with Dogs on Deployment, and find a safe place for your pet if you’ve ever been displaced for any reason.

Nila: Another Successful Pet Chit!

IMG_5142 copyFor anyone in the service for any length of time, moving can become second nature. Planning a military move becomes, almost: easy. From scheduling movers, to planning for kids to start school in a new town, even shipping cars, we can handle these major life-events every few years.

However, when orders come down for an overseas move, things can get a little more complicated, especially when pets are involved. Boarding costs, quarantine rules and associated travel expenses can skyrocket.

IMG_5459 copyIt’s unquestionable that our pets are part of our families. No one would argue to leave our son or daughter behind because of quarantine regulations, or how difficult it might be to travel with a baby; so, we jump through the difficult hoops necessary to get our pets with us overseas, just like our children. Just such a complex situation arose for Melanie, Nila’s doggie-mom.

Melanie’s family recently received orders to Okinawa, and as they prepared to move overseas, they discovered that they would be unable to, immediately, take Nila with them. Thankfully, Melanie’s mother was able to temporarily board their pup, while they worked out the paperwork, to get her to Japan, to join the family.

IMG_5456 copyAfter some research, Melanie discovered that this would not be an easy feat; Nila is a special needs dog. She needs seizure medication, which means that someone needs to be with her at all times, ready to administer medication. This means that each step of Nila’s journey would be more expensive; normally, dogs can fly beneath the plane, if temperature permits this safely. Nila’s journey costs were mounting to approximately $1,900.

This is when Melanie reached out to Dogs on Deployment and applied for a Pet Chit. The Pet Chit Program is available to people to help with emergency pet-related expenses, including medical expenses, or situations like Nila’s.
Melanie said, “I couldn’t stop thinking about how confused and sad Nila must have felt that her family left and didn’t take her with them. How do you explain to a dog [that] you aren’t abandoning her; it’s only goodbye for a little while?”

The Pet Chit was the key to getting Nila to Japan. After many months, and some long flights, Nila was going to be back with her family.

“Picking her up from the airport was more exciting than Christmas morning,” said Melanie. “Nila was so happy [that] her whole body was wagging with excitement.”

IMG_5457 copyThis story is brought to you by PetSmart: We are proud to support our veterans and their pets. At PetSmart, we love pets and we believe pets make us better people. PetSmart will be the trusted partner to pet parents and pets in every moment of their lives.

“At PetSmart, we believe in supporting organizations that make communities vibrant and strong” said Jennifer LaPlante, district leader for PetSmart. “We’re proud to partner with  in an effort to enrich the lives of more people through the power of pets.

PETSMART-logo