Category Archives: Just for Fun

Stories of pets and the military just for fun!

Dog Days of August: A Dogs on Deployment Milestone / Pet Chit Updates / ResQWalk Reminder

Summer 2016: DoD Marks Milestone

Dogs on Deployment has been through its growing pains since its very modest and humble beginnings.

We are proud to say that we have just helped deploy our 1,000th pet! This significant milestone has been many years in the making – five long years, to be exact. And during this, our fifth year “in business,” we are still working like dogs (no pun intended) to serve as a valuable resource for military members and their families who need help being reunited with their beloved pets.

Deploying 1,000 pets of all kinds is no easy task! Dogs on Deployment is aware that we owe thanks to the many sponsors, supporters, DoD boarders and volunteers across the United States who have helped every day to successfully reunite 1,000 loving military families with their fur babies. Never doubt it — our mission and important work will continue.

Along with extending our deep gratitude to everyone who pitches in to get the job done, it sounds like Team DoD collectively deserves a pat on the back as well as “two-paws up!”

Pet Chit Updates

Although Dogs on Deployment deploys great numbers of dogs and cats (probably since dogs and cats make up the majority of domestic pets), remember that all military pets are eligible for boarding. We work tirelessly to reunite as many military families with their pets as possible, and are keenly aware that pets do a great deal to enhance and complete our lives in numerous ways.

Here are brief profiles of a few recently deployed pets, including a ferret and a rabbit for you to enjoy.

  • Ripley – a one-year old female ferret, and member of the family for Jessica Ogline. Jessica serves our country in the United States Air Force, as an A1C, and soon to be SrA (Senior airman). By the way, since deploying, Ripley got herself a little brother to love — meet four-month old Dexter, also pictured here.
Ripley makes her debut!
Ripley makes her debut!
Lil brother, Dexter, above and right; below, bath-time means cuteness overload!

 

  • Bugs – you guessed it, the bunny – adorable and beloved pet of Joshua and his wife, Cheyenne. Joshua Smith serves our country in the United States Air Force, E-4, a SrA (Senior airman). We’re happy to report that Bugs bunny is doing great! This rabbit just made the intelligent choice to get neutered, which the Smiths were told would extend his life by about 6 years. Bugs is enjoying his swanky new cage since deploying (it is meant for two bunnies).
Bugs Bunny here, at your service.
What's up (DOC)?
Who could say ‘no’ to a face like this?

 

  • Lia Gustin, happy member of the family for Alex Gustin, E-5 of the United States Army. His family was granted a pet chit to help move everyone from deployment in Okinawa, Japan to London, England. The Gustin family said, “Thanks again to the team at Dogs on Deployment. We are all so grateful for the help!”

 

Lia - reporting for duty.
Lia – reporting for duty.

 

Lia thinks about enjoying the sand and surf!

 

Dogs on Deployment also helped recently to deploy two birds as well as a snake, who so far have remained camera-shy, but who we’ll gladly feature once we have their pictures. Stay tuned!

ResQWalk Reminder

Exciting news! For the month of August DoD has been participating of an online promotion with ResQwalk and Pet’s Best Health Insurance! Details are below!

We teamed up with the ResQwalk app for a special month long digital walkathon campaign to raise awareness for DoD and our mission. For every person who downloads the app and participates in “The ResQwalk for Military Pets”, Pets Best will donate $1 to us (up to $1,000)! If you don’t have the app already, there are links at the bottom of this note. When you create your account, select Dogs on Deployment as your charity and you are set!

The total goal is to have 350k miles walked! In addition to the Pets Best total donation, we want to hit the goals below:

100k – ResQwalk will make a donation to our Pet Chit program.
200k – ResQwalk will make a donation to us of $1,000 worth of ResQwalk for Military Pets gear.
250k – ResQwalk will make a donation to our Pet Chit program.
300k – We will receive $3,000 worth of ResQwalk swag (They will be selling the attached Dog Tags and T-shirts during the month and we will receive a percent of the profits on their website: http://resqthreads.com/)

Throughout the month, there will be posts on the main page that can go out about the walkathon. We will try and let you know in here when something posts, but keep an eye out!

Download ResQwalk for Android: https://goo.gl/mhQzHd
Download ResQwalk for iPhone: https://goo.gl/oYQsae

Happy walking!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Myra, Hampton Roads 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.

Myra after being presented the Volunteer of the Quarter Award at a surprise party hosted by her Hampton Roads members!
Myra after being presented the Volunteer of the Quarter Award at a surprise party hosted by her Hampton Roads members!

We are proud to announce that Myra S. is the first recipient of our “Volunteer of the Quarter” award for 2015. Since May 2014, Myra has been an integrated member of the Dogs on Deployment team. Her role began as the Norfolk Event Coordinator where she played a crucial role in the Hampton Roads area by ensuring that the Dogs on Deployment name was recognized by the many military commands in her area and a strong volunteer force was established for the many opportunities to promote Dogs on Deployment.

Myra has made Dogs on Deployment a staple organization in the Hampton Roads area.
Myra has made Dogs on Deployment a staple organization in the Hampton Roads area.

Myra’s success in the Norfolk area was obvious during the 2014 review of Dogs on Deployment’s successes. Myra’s efforts made the Hampton Roads area the second most successful city in the country to host deployed pets. Myra’s hard work continued through each month and she graciously accepted a
larger role as the Hampton Roads Coordinator, which encompasses Norfolk, Virginia Beach and the surrounding areas.

Myra sought more involvement with Dogs on Deployment beyond her local initiatives and her new role as Hampton Roads Coordinator. Despite planning events at least twice a month, and sometimes more, and managing one of the most active Chapters in the country, Myra has used her talents to act as Dogs on Deployment’s Grants Management Director. Her professional drive and acute sense of organizational needs has directed her to apply for several grants from various charitable sources, including Officer Spouses’ Clubs across the country. Due to her applications, Dogs on Deployment has raised over $35,000 in funding through grants.

Not only is Myra an amazing and reliable volunteer, but she is an astounding person. She has made herself available to several members of the Dogs on Deployment team for personal counsel and support and she is a truly dedicated person to Dogs on Deployment and all of our wonderful volunteers.

Myra consistently seeks new ways to assist Dogs on Deployment and to ensure its healthy growth. She not only looks for ways to make the organization better, but she seeks self-improvement in her activities as well. Constantly demonstrating a positive attitude, Myra keeps her local Chapter motivated, and other staff members informed and involved.

Due to her hard work, benevolent heart, and strong dedication, we are sincerely proud to call Myra a team member of Dogs on Deployment.

Hero Saves Hero: Meet Captain Jason Haag and Axel

American Humane Association Hero Dog Finalist

2015 Hero Dog Nominee AxelCaptain Jason Haag‘s dog Axel is a finalist in the American Humane Association Hero Dog Award competition.  As a finalist, Jason and Axel will attend the Hero Dogs Award in California, and are eligible for the grand prize. Jason chose Dogs on Deployment as his charity organization. Winning the grand prize means that DoD will receive a $5000 donation that will help us connect more military families’ pets with foster families. Read Jason and Axel’s incredible story below, and vote for them at http://bit.ly/dod-axelherodog2015. Deadline to vote is: September 7; you can vote once per day.

Jason and Axel – A story of Hope and Recovery

A typical weekend for Jason Haag involves running errands, spending time with his wife, Elizabeth, catching one of his kid’s sporting events, and taking his dog, Axel, for a walk. Many of us would view this weekend as fairly mundane.  For Jason, having a weekend like this is a miracle.  Jason Haag is actually retired Captain Jason Haag of the United States Marine Corps.  His dog, Axel, is actually a rescued service dog that saved Jason’s life.  Their story is anything but ordinary.

Jason started in the Marine Corps infantry in 1999.  Three months later, he left for his first deployment, a non-combat tour.  He returned in August of 2001.  Then the Twin Towers fell, and everything changed. Within weeks, he was on a plane, heading to Afghanistan. During the next three deployments, he rose through the ranks to become a captain, got shot with a machine gun, and sustained a traumatic brain injury from an improvised explosive device (IED). After completing his last tour of duty, he medically retired, and went home.  What should have been the end of the danger he experienced for the sake of protecting our country, was in fact, just beginning.

Back at home, Jason underwent a long treatment process for his brain injury.  He also began experiencing flashbacks to combat situations, depression, and crippling anxiety.  His symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) became so severe that making it out to a convenience store once a week represented a good week.  He tried every type of known treatment – medications, individual and group therapy, support groups.  However, none of these treatments were able to pull him out of the darkness he was experiencing.  Elizabeth urged him to seek out something, anything, to help him, as Jason’s PTSD had diminished the quality of their lives.  Jason decided to try one last option, and this choice saved his life, his family’s life, and a dog’s life.

Jason contacted K9-Warriors, a non-profit that finds and trains service dogs for military members.  K9 Warriors found the perfect addition to Jason’s family – a German Shepherd named Axel.  Axel was in a kill shelter, and his time there was running out until K9 Warriors rescued him.  K9 Warriors spent about 6 months training Axel, and then invited Jason and his family to their campus to teach them how to work with and take care of Axel.  Suddenly, Jason found himself forced to go out and interact with the world, so that he could train his new dog.  During the first day at the canine training center, Jason and Axel visited about five different public places, a huge step for Jason, who had shut himself off from the world for so long. It was only day one, and Axel had already helped Jason.

That first day in training represented a looking glass into what the future held for Jason, with Axel by his side. It has been three years since Jason and Axel met.  Because of Axel, Jason was able to reopen the door to his life; a door that he had kept closed and locked for so long.  Jason reconnected with his family, and his children get to grow up with their dad cheering them on in life. Recovery from PTSD is not a linear process, and there are times when Jason again feels anxiety wash over him.  Luckily, Axel feels this as well, and pulls Jason out of this mode, literally pulls him out of it by tugging on his clothes or arms.

Because of Axel, Jason not only reconnected with his family; he also reconnected with the world.  He now works with K9-Warriors to help other military members find service animals. He raises awareness about mental health issues that affect our service members, and hopes that his story will help others understand that people with mental illnesses are productive members of society and deserve respect and understanding.  He strives for veterans to be able to talk freely about the symptoms they experience, to seek out treatment, and to not lose hope.  As Jason states, “If I can do it, so can you, so tell someone and go grab treatment.” Jason and Axel saved each other, and are now symbols of hope for other veterans, proving the power of both the human and canine spirits.

A few more questions we asked Jason:

What will winning the Hero Dog Award mean for you and Axel?

Winning will be a great honor for Axel and will help spread the message of three great organizations: American Humane Association, Dogs on Deployment, and K9- Warriors.

Why did you choose Dogs on Deployment as your charity organization for the Hero Dog Awards?

I chose DoD because I love what the organization does to help military families, and I appreciate that DoD is run by veterans.

How did you and Elizabeth meet?

We met in middle school. She wouldn’t date me until I was out of high school.

Does Axel have any funny behaviors?

Axel pushes his butt up against people when he meets them for the first time.  He also raises his eyebrows.

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.

 

Preventing Heartworms in Dogs: The Noble Mission of Annie Blumenfeld and Wags 4 Hope

Annie Blumenfeld poses with Teddy, her furry inspiration. (Courtesy Annie Blumenfeld)

Annie Blumenfeld is on a mission to prevent heartworm disease in dogs. She is the founder of Wags 4 Hope, a non-profit aimed at raising awareness about heartworm prevention. Through her non-profit, she changed Connecticut state legislation regarding heartworm prevention and raised over $37,000 for multiple animal rescue organizations. She is eloquent, intelligent, determined, and deeply cares about the lives of animals.

She is also 17 years old.

Annie’s life changed when her family adopted a dog, Teddy, from a kill shelter in Texas. Teddy did not have an easy road to his new family. Before meeting his forever family, Teddy tested positive for
heartworms. For Teddy, this diagnosis meant suffering through multiple shots of an arsenic-based medication that kills heartworms, and being severely exercise restricted for months. For Annie, hearing what Teddy had gone through broke her heart and inspired her to create Wags 4 Hope to prevent other dogs from undergoing this preventable illness.

So, what are heartworms? Heartworms are parasites that infest the lungs, heart, and major arteries of several animals including dogs. They are spread through mosquitoes. A mosquito bites an infected animal and ingests immature worms called microfilaria. The mosquito then bites a second animal, and the microfilaria enter the animal through the bite wound. Over 6 months, the larvae develop into adult worms. These adult worms cause respiratory and cardiac problems in animals, and if left untreated, can lead to death. The silver lining? Heartworms are preventable.

One of Annie’s main goals is to teach pet owners about heartworm prevention. Heartworm prevention is easy – pet owners simply give an inexpensive preventative medication once a month to their pets, often in the form of a delicious tasting (well for the dogs) soft treat.

To put the cost of heartworm prevention versus treatment in perspective, Annie states that “a year’s worth of monthly heartworm preventatives is equivalent to a week’s worth of Starbucks coffee runs”, whereas heartworm treatment ranges from $600-$2000.

Annie uses her website and social media as a platform for preventing heartworm disease. She posts on her blog every month, reminding owners to give their pets their heartworm preventative. Additionally, she has given numerous interviews and been featured in different magazines and news programs where she shares her message. She also started a Wags 4 Hope chapter at her high school. Most impressively, she recently went before the Connecticut House of Representatives to petition them to give heartworm prevention information to pet owners, an action that resulted in the  department of Agriculture mandating heartworm preventative messages be put on dog license applications.

As if all that wasn’t impressive enough, Annie also is an artist and uses her creative skills for the greater good. She sells pet portraits through Wags 4 Hope and donates all her earnings from these paintings to various rescue organizations and shelters. Annie’s portraits capture the essence of the animals; the trick of which she says is spending a lot of time on the eyes to capture the expression of the pet.

I asked Annie what her future plans are, both for Wags 4 Hope and for herself. Her goals for Wags 4 Hope are to continue raising awareness about heartworm prevention, and to find ways to help lessen the financial burdens of families who have to pay for heartworm treatments. As for her own future, she plans on attending college to study business and politics. While in college, she also plans on starting a Wags 4 Hope chapter on her college campus. I predict that Annie’s determined and generous spirit will result in a bright future for both herself and thousands of heartworm-free dogs.

Annie’s tips for Dogs on Deployment Foster Families:

  1. Before the service member leaves, discuss veterinary care and potential expenses.
  2. If the dog is currently on heartworm preventatives, continue giving the preventative every month.
  3. If the dog is not on a preventative, get the dog tested for heartworms (a simple blood test). If the dog’s test comes back negative, then begin monthly heartworm preventative treatment.
  4. If the dog is heartworm positive, talk to the vet about treatment options and costs. Proceed with the appropriate treatments, based on the recommendation of the vet and the approval of the owners.

Learn more about Annie and Wags 4 Hope:

Website: http://Wags 4 Hope.org/

Blog: http://teddystales.tumblr.com/

Like her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Wags 4 Hope

Hogwarts Running Club Partners with DoD – Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezer 5K

HogwartsIn a unique pairing, Dogs on Deployment (DoD) partnered with the Hogwarts Running Club  for a “virtual running” fundraiser this spring. The Hogwarts Running Club created by United States Air Force Lt. Colonel Brian Biggs, is a virtual running club with a Harry Potter theme.

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Proud virtual 5K finishers supporting DoD!

Virtual running clubs allow participants anywhere in the world to register for a race, and then run or walk the race at their own convenience, whether on a treadmill, at a park, or in their own neighborhood.

The Hogwarts Running Club initiated this partnership with Dogs on Deployment having heard from some of their members who were already supporters of DoD.  Since this fundraiser was to be held in early April, the Hogwarts Running Club chose Harry Potter’s Weasley twins as the theme, as the red-headed jokesters share an April Fool’s Day birthday on April 1st.

Wizarding 5K Participant with twins
Proud mom, supporting DoD and Hogwarts Running Club..and she has her own twins!

The 5k fundraiser was called, Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezer 5K. As soon as participants registered, they received a race bib, and upon completion, a specially designed medal that read “Mischief Managed.”

Lt. Col. Brian Biggs enthusiastically agreed that this fundraiser would be a great fit between Hogwarts running club, and Dod,  When asked what ultimately led to him choosing DoD as a partner, Biggs said,

Mischief Managed1
Mischief Managed Medal – front
Mischief Managed 2
Mischief Managed Medal – back

“As for my feelings on DoD, I can only say this: I did it for Fenway. Fenway was my (200 pound) Great Dane who passed away from cancer just ten days before I returned home from deployment in 2013. Fortunately, he died warm in his home with my wife by his side to calm him and ease his transition. I cannot imagine how much more difficult his death would have been if it had happened in a cold, unfamiliar boarding location with nothing but strangers around…if at all. Not everyone is as fortunate as I was to be able to have my wife with Fenway when he died. As a currently serving member of the United States Air Force, the only thing that is as important to me as my service to my country is my dedication to my family. That includes my entire family…my wife, my daughter, our three dogs, and our two cats. We have faced the emotional struggles of balancing what is best for my career and what is best for our entire family. Dogs on Deployment is providing a critical resource to military families…to ALL members of our military families…to make sure our family is taken care of when we answer the call to serve our nation. For those families, for those animals…for Fenway…I say thank you to all the volunteers and foster families who do such incredible work in service to our nation.”

NadiaMorales-Snoddy
More proud 5K finishers!

At registration’s close, there were 667 participants from 47 states, 5 Canadian provinces, the United Kingdom, Germany, Portugal, and Australia, making this the largest Hogwarts Running Club race on record. After deducting costs for the medals that are distributed to all who complete the race, the remaining proceeds will be distributed to DoD.

Puppy Love is Real!

Have you heard that scientists have proven what pet lovers have known all along? Namely, that the rush of love we feel when we look into our pet’s eyes isn’t all in our heads; puppy love is real!

IMG_3752A study was recently published in Science magazine, conducted by a team of Japanese researchers at Azabu University’s school of veterinary medicine. They showed that oxytocin, the chemical long thought to be behind human bonding and trust was identified in both humans and their canine counterparts, most specifically, when they were gazing into one another’s eyes. Awwww.

Researchers studied interactions between dogs and humans, but also measured their urine output to check for oxytocin levels, knowing this would indicate trust and bonding.

They found that when dogs and owners looked at one another, especially into one another’s eyes, it wasn’t in hopes for another treat; oxytocin levels rose in both the people and the dogs. Interestingly, the same could not be said for a control group of wolves.

Of course, any dog lover could have told scientists this, without conducting a study. And, as one researcher put it,  “I think the best evidence that any dog lover has that their dog loves them is what the dog does was when it’s around them,” Wynne says. “We’re entitled to trust the evidence of our own senses.”

Visit NPR to read more about this story.