Category Archives: DoD President’s Corner

Get a behind the scenes look at Dogs on Deployment straight from the president.

Ron Kerrigan, Awarded Volunteer of the Quarter 2, 2016


Washington State Volunteer, Ron Kerrigan Earns Distinction with Volunteer of the Quarter 2, 2016: Recognized for Efforts, Initiatives on Behalf of Dogs on Deployment


Dogs on Deployment is an organization completely staffed by volunteers – without whom our mission would be impossible. Each person that supports Dogs on Deployment shares a few things in common: compassion; motivation; and honor. Each quarter, the DoD 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.

Alisa Johnson, President and Co-Founder, Dogs on Deployment proudly announced that Ron Kerrigan, Washington state volunteer for Dogs on Deployment, is the recipient of the “Volunteer of the Quarter” award for the second quarter of 2016.


Ron Kerrigan, manning a Dogs on Deployment booth at one of the many volunteer events he participates in.
Ron Kerrigan, manning a Dogs on Deployment booth at one of the many volunteer events he participates in, in Washington state.

Ron Kerrigan: Longtime Supporter of Military Service Members and Their Pets

Ron has been an integral member of the Dogs on Deployment team since 2014 when he first volunteered to board and foster military service members’ dogs.  But his concern and activism for the cause started years earlier.

Ron volunteered at an animal shelter on Whidbey Island throughout the 1990s, and saw firsthand how many United States Navy service members typically surrendered their dogs when deployed or transferred. This was especially evident in the wake of 9-11, in late 2001.

Said Ron, “I actually took a sailor’s dog for him during this pre-Dogs on Deployment period, but it happened only because I was in the office when he came in to give up his friend.”

Ron continued, “I was also involved back then in Old Dog Haven, as a board member and foster family. In 2011 a married couple stationed at JBLM contacted ODH looking to re-home their senior dog. One was going to Afghanistan, the other to Cuba. I took in their dog, but it was a surrender-agreement.”

Dogs on Deployment was still a fledgling organization at the time, without the major volunteer base it now has. “I kept that dog until April of this year when her age — 16 years — finally caught up with her. Coincidentally, both the husband and wife were back at JBLM for a short time. They drove up to be with her at the vets when we sent her off,” added Ron.

Fortunately, Ron and the folks at Old Dog Haven started looking for alternative solutions when service members did not want to surrender their pet. In 2014 Ron discovered Dogs on Deployment and signed up as a volunteer boarder. For his first “official DoD” outing, he boarded a pair of dogs for a service member stationed on the USS Nimitz. Ron recalls that the service member would bring his dogs over for three or four weeks at a time whenever the boat went out on exercises.

Since then Ron has worked with tireless dedication to the cause, and brings his love of dogs everywhere he now goes to promote the mission of Dogs on Deployment.


This display case shows the many items Ron has used as a Dogs on Deployment volunteer at various events. It will be on display at his public library branch through December, 2016. Check out the giant dog tags – he made them himself, and offered them freely to other DoD volunteers that wanted them!
This display case shows the many items Ron has used as a Dogs on Deployment volunteer at various events. It will be on display at his public library branch through December, 2016. Check out the giant dog tags – he made them himself, and offered them freely to other DoD volunteers that wanted them!


Bremerton Event Coordinator, Laura Finch, assisted in the nomination of Ron for this award. After Board review, he was wholeheartedly selected to be our Volunteer of the Quarter 2, 2016 by DoD President, Alisa Johnson. “Ron’s dedication to Dogs on Deployment has been a tremendous asset to those around him and everyone throughout the organization,” said Alisa.

“Ron’s been awesome at helping and setting up Dogs on Deployment events on Whidbey Island, most often on his own,” said Laura. “He’s been really great and a more than worthy candidate for DoD’s Volunteer of the Quarter!”

Among the many events he has participated in are:

  • The WAIF Wag n’ Walk: three years running – 2014, 2015, 2016
  • Scrub a Mutt 2015
  • Everett Mutt Strut 2015, 2016 (he even paid application fees with his own money)
  • Mill Creek Festival 2016

And Ron continues to serve as a dog boarder. Last year he took in a dog for seven months when his owner went to Japan. “And in June, 2016 I had a dog for a month when his mom went to sea from Everett,” said Ron.

Boarding more mature dogs may be on the horizon. Ron added, “my own pack, now at five dogs, is old and sedate, so young dogs can be a trial.”

Congratulations, Ron!

Ron witnessed the pain and heartbreak that was common when military service members were forced to surrender their family pet in the name of service to his or her country. He exemplifies volunteerism at its finest because he got involved to provide a solution to the problem.

Added Alisa Johnson, “Due to his hard work, big heart, and strong dedication, I am sincerely proud to call Ron Kerrigan a team member of Dogs on Deployment.”


Dogs on Deployment Proudly Celebrates Its 5-Year Anniversary!

Dog – gone!  Can it be?  The Dogs on Deployment organization           celebrated its 5-year anniversary June, 2016

The initial idea to help military service members by offering to board their pets for them started out as a tiny seed and has grown into a mighty tree, with branches all across the United States.

For anyone who may not already know, the two people behind that idea are Dogs on Deployment co-founders Alisa Johnson and Shawn Johnson. Alisa serves as President, Dogs on Deployment and active duty Captain in the United States Marine Corps, while her husband Shawn serves as Vice President, Dogs on Deployment and active duty Lieutenant in the United States Navy.

The Johnsons at work, along with their faithful companions.


We chatted recently with Alisa Johnson about the growth and success of Dogs on Deployment these last five years, and where Team DoD plans to go from here.


Tell us how it feels to see how DoD has grown five years later. Did you realize in its humble beginning how the organization would flourish and eventually help thousands of military members and their beloved pets?


DoD has grown from a team of two – Shawn and I – to a fantastic Board of Trustees of 10 members, including Mrs. D’Arcy Neller, wife to the US Marine Commandant, and many other fantastic military, veteran and military spouses that have been with our organization now for several years. The fact that these individuals, along with nearly 50 Local Coordinators running Chapters across the nation and over 30,000 registered DoD Boarders, have opened up their hearts to the mission of Dogs on Deployment leaves me absolutely honored, and humbled.

I never thought that my idea to try to make a difference would result in such an impact, not only on those we help (the military pet owners) but on those that sacrifice their time and service to help us. We are told repeatedly that volunteering for DoD in any capacity is its own reward!

JD is part of the Johnson Family. He also serves as Chief Canine Officer, (CCO) Dogs on Deployment.


How do things look now for Dogs on Deployment? What’s the growth strategy for DoD over the next five or so years? What do you envision for DoD down the road?


Dogs on Deployment is an online-based platform. Our most important function is our boarding network, which uses a custom web application that connects service members to the volunteers willing to foster their pets.

Like many not-for-profit organizations, our biggest challenge is keeping up with technology. We are currently working to make our website better, easy to use, more mobile friendly and even develop a mobile application for iOS.

Team DoD continues to build on the foundation we’ve created over the last five years. We also continue to work to foster beneficial relationships with communities and businesses in order to create and enable resource sharing to benefit military pet owners.

In the long term, I’d like to see us go international. We have thousands of service members and their families stationed overseas all over the world. Someday in the next 10 years, I envision DoD being the only international foster network benefiting US military members!

Neller Family dogs Bailey and Maddy. They serve as honorary Board Members along with their Mom, Mrs. D’Arcy Neller. We are proud to have them all involved!


You and the Board of Trustees have succeeded in developing an organization that is well structured and going strong, despite any obstacles you have encountered along the way. To what do you attribute DoD’s success?


I attribute DoD’s success to our mission: give military members peace of mind concerning their pets during their service commitments by providing them with the ability to find people and resources able to help them.

The fact is, in creating a 100% all-volunteer organization you recognize that every person’s time is limited. At the end, that limitation can affect those we aim to help – the military member. However, given the fact that so many of our volunteers are active duty, veterans or military spouses themselves, we understand the importance of our volunteer jobs and keeping the organization running smoothly.

Everything from our marketing plan, to our fundraising efforts, to our local events, to our customer service affects the military member we’re trying to help.  Every aspect and function is backed by someone who truly believes at their core in our mission.

How can everyone already involved in Dogs on Deployment improve upon our success and make it even better?


Understanding and respect for one another’s time is key. In this business model, it’s too often that volunteers can fill burnt out and under-appreciated. My personal goal is to not allow this to happen in Dogs on Deployment.

Being able to work together as a team, appreciate each others efforts and truly believe and support one another makes our volunteer network a FAMILY. I can say beyond a doubt that my heart is full of love for every person in the organization that I have worked with, some for up to five years now.

The generosity and support our family gives to one another, despite many of us never having met in person, is overwhelming. We all have one thing in common, and that’s the common love for dog and country. It’s that love that brings us together in a strong, familial network which aims to promote and supporting Dogs on Deployment.

Want to know more? Captain Alisa Johnson, President, CEO and Co-Founder of Dogs on Deployment spoke about her efforts and dedication to Dogs on Deployment earlier this year at “Clever Talks.”  The video is available through YouTube — just clink on the link here to see it:

Keep track of the Dogs on Deployment blog, Facebook Page and Twitter feed! Want to volunteer? Just sign in at our website – have your dog fetch the ball  —  and get the ball rolling!

Karen White, Dogs on Deployment Rockville, Maryland Coordinator and DoD Fundraising Director, Awarded Volunteer of the Quarter, Q1 2016

Compassion, Motivation and Honor Exemplified

Dogs on Deployment is an organization completely staffed by volunteers – without whom our mission would be impossible. Each person that supports Dogs on Deployments shares a few things in common: compassion; motivation; and honor. Each quarter, the DoD Board of Directors chooses one of its many volunteers to be recognized for their genuine contribution, steadfast volunteerism, and unwavering support of our service members and their pets.

Karen White, Recipient, Dogs on Deployment Volunteer of the Quarter, Q1 2016
Karen White, Recipient, Dogs on Deployment Volunteer of the Quarter, Q1 2016

Alisa Johnson, President and Co-Founder, Dogs on Deployment has proudly announced that Karen White, Rockville Maryland Coordinator and Fundraising Director, is the recipient of the “Volunteer of the Quarter” award for the first quarter of 2016. Since April 2012, Karen has been an integral member of the Dogs on Deployment team. Karen first began volunteering with DoD as a local volunteer around Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia, where she impressed other volunteers with her tireless dedication to the cause and inspiring passion to promote the mission of Dogs on Deployment.

Demonstrating that she was one of the most reliable volunteers in the region, Karen was first brought on as the Rockville Coordinator in September 2014. She enthusiastically accepted the position, proving in the years to come that she was not only up for the challenge, but could greatly exceed expectations of the leaders of the organization. Over the last two years, Dogs on Deployment has relied upon Karen to manage the Rockville Chapter, and to additionally step in for others when unforeseen emergencies arose.

Karen understands the need for a not-for-profit organization’s media exposure and a social media presence, and has been available for public appearances and interviews, like her interview on The Pet Show with Dr. Katy (see the YouTube video link provided here). She has coordinated many events in and around her service area including several successful walks, partnerships with other organizations like the USO, and local fundraisers.

In October 2014, Karen took on additional responsibility within Dogs on Deployment, and was recruited to take over the position as Fundraising Director for Dogs on Deployment, where she would be responsible for the coordination and follow through for successful fundraising and affiliate programs to financially benefit the organization. As Fundraising Director, she has raised over $5,000 for Dogs on Deployment by working with over ten companies and affiliate partners. She continues to be a fountain of ideas, consistently seeking new ways to improve the fundraising opportunities available for Dogs on Deployment.

DoD organization leaders including Alisa Johnson and Rhonda O’Shields, Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator, have found Karen White to be a motivated, passionate and trustworthy leader, whose dedication to Dogs on Deployment has been a tremendous asset to those around her and everyone throughout the organization. She is viewed as a respected member of the DoD team by fellow volunteers as well as the Board of Directors. Karen willingly makes herself available, offers her attendance at events whenever needed, and demonstrates a genuine desire for the organization’s mission.

Karen White is handed her recognition plaque by Rhonda O'Shields

“Due to her hard work, contagious positivity, and strong dedication, I am sincerely proud to call Karen White a team member of Dogs on Deployment. “ Alisa Johnson, President & Co-Founder, Dogs on Deployment

Karen White Reflects on Volunteering with Dogs on Deployment

Fortunately for us, Karen says she “stumbled upon Dogs on Deployment after an unsatisfying volunteer experience with another charity.” During a recent chat, she continued sharing her story:

“I saw a Facebook post asking for volunteers for the Army Ten-Miler and signed up. The whole process was so streamlined. The people I met that day were wonderful, and some I’ll consider lifelong friends. My experiences at each event thereafter were always positive. I was positive I’d found my calling. I’ve attended many events, set up fundraisers and have even enjoyed representing DoD in front of live cameras despite my initial fears about that process!

My husband, Rob and I have even signed up to be boarders and had our first “deployed pet” last September. Sam was an exuberant puppy we grew to love as one of our own. His mother, Laura, is even trusting us to watch him again this coming September while she’s attending a training mission.

I am completely humbled and proud to receive this honor. I believe wholeheartedly in DoD. It’s an awesome organization that provides a vital service. My “regular” job is a practice manager at a veterinary clinic. I have been working with animals for over 11 years but have been in love with animals all my life. Growing up as an “Army Brat,” my family moved around a lot but we never had to give away a pet; I can’t imagine the pain and heartbreak one must endure in having to give away their family pet in the name of service to his/her country.

This award caught me completely by surprise and I’m thrilled to be selected.  I hope to continue on with Dogs on Deployment for the rest of my life. I can’t see myself doing anything else that gives me such pleasure. Thank you, DoD!”

Karen and Rhonda celebrate the good news at a luncheon.
Karen and Rhonda celebrate the good news at a luncheon.


You’re welcome Karen White, but no thanks are necessary. Dogs on Deployment thanks you, and we wish you continued success in all your endeavors!




Operation Drool Overload!

Through a common love of dog and country, The Lazy Dog Cookie Co, Inc. and Dogs on Deployment are partnering to launch “Operation Drool Overload,” a delicious, peanut butter and molasses-flavored grain-free dog treat. A portion of the proceeds from every box of Operation Drool Overload purchased will benefit Dogs on Deployment, and its mission to provide service members peace of mind when it comes to their beloved pets.

“Dogs on Deployment is dedicated to promoting responsible, life-long pet ownership, and it is the support of exceptional organizations like Lazy Dog Cookie Co. that help us make a difference for military pet owners,” said Debbie Gaskell, Executive Director of Dogs on Deployment. “We are honored to be working together on such a unique and exciting opportunity.”

The limited-edition, custom-made packaging featuring Leonidas, the 2015 Dogs on Deployment Military Pet of the Year and mascot, can be purchased at independent pet stores, boutiques across the USA and online.

“[We] are thrilled and proud to support our military and their animals through our partnership with Dogs on Deployment,” said Keith Augustine, Vice President of Sales for Lazy Dog Cookie Co.” For more information on this partnership, please visit Dogs on Deployment.

Richard, San Diego Coordinator, Awarded the 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.

Midas, 2014 Military Pet of the Year and DoD's Mascot, wearing Rich's custom braided leash and collar.
Midas, 2014 Military Pet of the Year and DoD’s Mascot, wearing Rich’s custom braided leash and collar.

We are proud to announce that our San Diego Coordinator, Richard S. is the recipient of our “Volunteer of the Quarter” award for the second quarter of 2015. Since June 2014, Rich has been an integrated member of the Dogs on Deployment team. Rich first contacted Dogs on Deployment wanting to give back to a local charity.. As a retired Navy veteran, he was looking to get involved by using his creative talents. He first assisted Dogs on Deployment by donating custom made dog tags to be used as promotional items. His inaugural project with Dogs on Deployment included hand-braiding custom DoD-branded paracord collars and leashes, which were sold in the DoD store as custom orders. During this fundraisers, Rich raised nearly $1500 for Dogs on Deployment. He further supported Dogs on Deployment by later hand-braiding paracord bracelets which were sold in the DoD Store as a Christmas fundraiser in 2014, and raised over $330.

In addition to his donation of materials and crafting talents, he was a steadfast and reliable event volunteer to the San Diego Chapter. His good natured, affable personality drew in a core group of volunteers who consistently supported the Chapter’s events. When the previous San Diego Local Coordinator was promoted to West Coast Regional Coordinator, Rich was an obvious choice to step up in the vacant role. In March 2015, Rich was promoted to the role of San Diego Local Coordinator.

Rich at the San Diego Humane Society Walk for Animals, one of his many DoD events.
Rich, and volunteer Christy, at the San Diego Humane Society Walk for Animals, one of his many DoD events.

Since taking over his new role, Rich has put his full force behind the growth and success of the San Diego Chapter. Managing six major events in only four months, including arranging a booth at the Celebrity Championship Golf Tournament in Racho Sante Fe, Ca, Rich has made Dogs on Deployment a well-known name in the San Diego area. Rich’s networking has led to many important connections in the San Diego area; including integration with the San Diego Navy MWR and City of Santee.

Not only has Rich been a motivated and reliable volunteer, but he is an honorable person. He understands the meaning of team work, and is constantly seeking ways to assist the organization in methods beyond the expectations set forth in his volunteer position. He is a respected member of the team not only by his own volunteers, but also by the Board of Directors. He willingly seeks additional responsibility, offers his attendance to many smaller events and public appearance to represent Dogs on Deployment, and demonstrates a genuine passion for the organization’s mission.

Due to his hard work, contagious positivity, and strong dedication, Dogs on Deployment is sincerely proud to call Rich a team member of Dogs on Deployment, and excited to award him Volunteer of the Quarter.

Rich being awarded by Alisa and Shawn Johnson, President and Vice President of Dogs on Deployment.
Rich being awarded by Alisa and Shawn Johnson, President and Vice President of Dogs on Deployment.


Volunteer Spotlight: Sharon Spears

We love our volunteers! Without them, Dogs on Deployment wouldn’t function, and we wouldn’t have so many wonderful success stories to share.

Sharon Spears has worked with DoD since May 2013. She’s our National Director of Customer Service. She’s the friendly voice you exchange emails with when you register your pets, or sign up to be a foster for servicemen and women.

She loves her job with DoD. “The best thing I love about my position is assisting pet owners in getting registered” she says, adding “especially when they need immediate help, or have run out of other options, and they realize that we can help them and their beloved pet.”

Moody and Radar at Christmas
Moody and Radar at Christmas

Sharon says that she got involved with DoD because of her “love for animals,” and because she’s a proud Army spouse and is happy to assist other military members and their families. Since starting with DoD, she says that she’s had too many positive experiences to count, and each one of them has been important to her.

When she’s not working as an RN, or volunteering with DoD, she’s also a volunteer with the Army Company-based FRG. She says she also loves spending as much time with her husband and pets as she can. Like most of our volunteers, she’s an animal lover with pets of her own; she has two dogs, Moody and Radar, both rescues.

If you are interested in volunteering with Dogs on Deployment, visit Dogs on Deployment.


Nicte Cuevas, DoD Branding Director, Wins Design Award!

Nicte's winning T-Shirt design
Nicte’s winning T-Shirt design

At Dogs on Deployment, we know that our volunteers are amazing and wonderful people; so, it’s no surprise to us when they are recognized as such. Still, it makes our hearts proud and glad when it happens, and we want to share it with the world.

Nicte Cuevas, the Branding Director for DoD, has been volunteering with us for almost a year. In her inaugural year with us, her Midas T-Shirt design was awarded a Certificate of Excellence award by Graphic Design USA (GDUSA).

Wonderful dogs come in all breeds
Wonderful dogs come in all breeds

The five-decades-old, 2014 American Graphic Design Awards received over 8,000 entries. Nicte is one of only 15% who were awarded this prestigious honor, in highly selective competition. Her design will be among those to be featured in their print magazine, iPad app, and on their website, in November.

She got involved with DoD after searching for organizations that she says, “promoted responsible pet ownership, and didn’t agree with breed specific (BSL) regulations.” She calls BSL regulations the “Big Silly Law” that often keeps her from fostering animals in need, in her area.

Read More about DoD’s Mission to Standardize Military Pet Policies here.

Attila, the heart-stealing, daddy's girl.
Attila, the heart-stealing, daddy’s girl.

She says, “Once I found DoD, I loved what they stood for and their unique approach to ALL members of the military family. On top of that, I’m a HUGE animal lover!” Believe it or not, aside from her rescue mutt, Attila (a Daddy’s girl), her second favorite animal is the Komodo Dragon! Of course, since Attila knows over 20 tricks, perhaps she’ll learn how to make a dragon disappear, and keep all the focus on her.

Like most of us at DoD, she’s a softie for all animals, and when she sees one in need, her heart breaks; but, she was looking for something that combined her soft heart with her passion: design. Since her previous job was the in-house designer at the Houston Zoo, Branding Director was a perfect fit for her.

Look out, Attila! This Komodo might be coming home with Nicte one day!
Look out, Attila! This Komodo might be coming home with Nicte one day!

Since getting involved with DoD, she says that it has given her “the opportunity and trust to help build a brand that has a huge impact on the well-being of our military families—including our furry members.” Being an Air Force spouse for the past three years, she knows how important that is. She even makes sure that, through her local base forum, she personally directs Airman to DoD, before deployments and surrendering pets.

Overall, she says, “It has been very exciting to see how DoD has grown and continues to grow with more volunteers and boarders.”

Congratulations and kisses from your adoring fans: fury, scaly, hairy and otherwise.
Congratulations and kisses from your adoring fans: fury, scaly, hairy, and otherwise.

We couldn’t be more thrilled that she’s a part of the Dogs on Deployment team, and we more proud of her accomplishments.

See more of Nicte’s work and see how she can help your company with design work at her website for Nicte Creative Design.

Want to purchase an award-winning tshirt? Buy yours here!

Don’t Leave the Dogs Behind Just Because You’re Adventurous

For the first time in three years, my husband, Shawn, and I were finally living in the same house, with our two beloved dogs, JD and Jersey, two rescue cats and two parrots. Shawn and I are both active duty serving in the US Navy and Marine Corps respectively. For the past three years, Shawn and I have lived on different sides of the country while I attended Naval Flight Training, and he was station in San Diego. We founded Dogs on Deployment during this time, and found building the organization together not only brought us closer despite the distance, but also gave us one more thing in common. But the biggest thing we have in common, is our love of flying!

Despite both being pilots, we differ greatly… I am a Marine. Shawn is in the Navy. I fly fixed wing aircraft. Shawn flies helicopters. I like dogs. He likes cats. We compliment each other quite well in our differences, and our similarities rest in our love for adventure, travel and of course, our dogs.

I should put a disclaimer on this post that (1) It is not recommended to put a Marine and Sailor in the same vehicle. (2) It is not recommended to put a fixed wing aviator and a helicopter pilot in the same airplane. (3) And most importantly, it is not recommended to go on a 9 hour cross country flight with husband and wife both flying! Despite breaking all these recommendations, we came back with fantastic memories.

JD is my co-pilot.

Its difficult when you’re in the military to plan vacations to see family in advance, especially when both spouses are active duty. Luckily, we were both able to take the Fourth of July holiday off, and planned to rent a Cessna 172SP from San Diego and fly up to South Lake Tahoe for the 96-holiday. We could have flown commercially, but that would have been half the fun. Plus, flying commercially put the biggest dampener on our holiday plans – we couldn’t take the dogs. Our dogs mean the world to us, and every chance we have, we make sure to make arrangements so that they can join us on vacations. They are a part of our family!

While most would find it easier just to leave the dogs at home, we planned our entire trip around them. Despite our boy’s reservations to car rides (anxiety barking), JD did extremely well once airborne. By time we were up and away, both JD and Jersey were lying down in the backseat and shortly fell asleep soon after. Some things to remember when packing for a canine flight:

  • Doggie bags
  • More doggie bags
  • Dog-friendly water bottles
  • Tons of treats
  • Dog seat belts/harnesses

JD loves the wind in his fur.

Once we landed in Tahoe, we visited our family on the lake. For two days, we spent cruising the water on the boat, with JD and Jersey enjoying the wind in their fur, frequent beach stops for swimming and diving competitions and even a quick hike up to the tea house in Emerald Bay. On the night of the Fourth, JD and Jersey got tucked into bed in a quiet part of the cabin, while Shawn and I watched the fireworks over the shore. It was an amazing moment. To be with your husband, and be so thankful that for one holiday, we’re together, with our loved ones (human and canine), when we know there are many holidays ahead of us where we’ll be apart. But we do so, because the sense of pride of being a part of what makes Independence Day so special, is worth it!

JD swims laps between the beach and the boat, with “dad” and “mom” on life guard duty.

On Sunday, it was finally time to return home back to San Diego. Despite a poor start, where we forgot a bag back at the cabin 30 minutes away… we finally got the dogs packed up and heading back south. The pups were wiped, and so were we. After a grueling four hours home, turbulence and a few rain showers, it was relieving for everyone to finally get in the car to drive home.

This Fourth of July was a trip we’ll always remember, and we’re so happy our pups could be apart of it. Our dogs are always included in our plans, whether its to ensure their safety and care during our deployments, or just to have a fun, family vacation.

The family that flies together, stays together!

When Children Inspire Us

Brendan Meerdink is unique young man who at 5 years old has planned out this campaign to raise money for his two favorite things: Soliders and Dogs.
Brendan Meerdink is unique young man who at 5 years old has planned out this campaign to raise money for his two favorite things: Soliders and Dogs.

It always amazes me to see young kids recognize the need to do good in the world, and then take action. Such is the case for five-year old, Brendan Meerdink. After seeing an ad on the TV for CustomInk’s Booster campaign, an online fundraising site which raises money through the sale of t-shirts, Brendan got to thinking, he should start a fundraiser for something he cares about. His mother, whom Brendan had almost recently lost due to health complications, saw an opportunity to teach Brendan about the true meaning of selfless and caring.

Brendan began naming things that he cared about and would like to raise money for. Brendan has a sensory processing disorder, but that hasn’t stopped him from being an intelligent and caring young man. He is able to focus his attentions on his love for animals, and currently lives with his two best friends, a Norweigan Elkhound and Yorkie. He loves the military and he is a complete animal-lover, so many of his choices centered around either military organizations, or animal organization. Then his mother remembered seeing Dogs on Deployment on Facebook and showed Brendan our organization’s website. Brendan, excited that our group brought together his love for the military and his love for animals, began screaming and jumping up and down with joy.

Brendan begun his fundraiser after his kindergarten spring break and now has 4-days to go. He’s trying to sell 50 military-dog inspired, green t-shirts to help raise money for Dogs on Deployment. We hope our fans will not only love his design, but show a great deal of respect for a kid that understands generosity and love. So help make his dream come true, and check out his Booster campaign here!


Fate Leads to Help

On December 8th, I was scheduled to hop on an airplane from Corpus Christi, TXÂ to fly to the Northeast for two weeks of military training, completing my two years in Naval flight training. I woke up early on Sunday, to an American Airlines automated message that my flight had been cancelled due to weather, and that I had been rescheduled for Monday. Unable to get a hold of a representative over the phone due to high call volume, I decided to visit the airport to see if there was anything that could be done to get me a flight to my training that day.

Standing in line for the airport representative, a man with a dog in a crate was visibly upset about the cancellations for the flights. I asked him about his dog, and he explained that he was leaving town, and needed to ship his dog to his next duty station. Turns out, he was in the Navy, and was being transferred to Southern California the next day by air, and was trying to ship his dog via air to where he was going. The freezing layer over Texas was preventing that from happening.

This brings up a good point in traveling with pets; travel in cargo via air, especially during extreme winter or summer conditions, can be extremely dangerous for your pets. There are many ground options available, and Dogs on Deployment is working to partner with transportation businesses and organizations in the future to give military members a database to arrange transport for their pets when necessary.

As luck would have it, I told him I would be traveling to San Diego during my own duty station transfer in the next couple of weeks, and offered that I would be happy to drive his dog with me. After all, she was very well crate trained and cute as could be! Not to mention, it’d be an honor to help out a fellow service member. I also found out that the pup, Kylie, had been a rescue from Kingsville, TX. Apparently, her original caretakers preferred to shoot her instead of feed her, and she was lucky to be found by this man who not only saved her life, but loved her. I told him about Dogs on Deployment, gave him my contact information and let him know to contact me if he needed her to be driven out.

The next day, I found out my training was cancelled, and after checking with my unit in Corpus Christi, was told I could leave that day to drive to San Diego! I called the dog’s “dad,” and let him know that I could drive Kylie, across country that day! So I picked her up, and we drove 2100 miles to both our new homes. Her dad picked her up to a happy reunion, and Kylie is now a happy California-resident.

It was meant to be that I went to the airport to meet this man and his dog. If you have an upcoming PCS move with room to travel with a rescue dog, I recommend it! It was a highly rewarding experience to be able to help that gentleman and Kylie! I wish them luck in their bright future together!