Category Archives: DoD Successes and Reunions

Success stories for Dogs on Deployment’s Pets in Need

Military Family Appreciation Month! Help Make a Happy Thanksgiving for the Military

Everyone Can Benefit from Pet Chits

 

United States military service members here at home and around the world confront a multitude of problems during their careers. Our military enriches people’s lives and works every day to keep us safe, and yet there are times when service commitments can leave them to worry about their pet’s care. The Dogs on Deployment Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program addresses this problem.

Dogs on Deployment promotes responsible, life-long pet ownership by military pet owners by advocating for military pet owner rights, providing educational resources, and whenever possible, granting financial assistance to military pet owners through its Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program.

One way pet chits can help military members and their pets is by allowing them to reunite when PCS costs would have prohibited them from staying together. To date, program donations to Dogs on Deployment have enabled us to grant over $273,993 to military pet owners.

Help us help them! Show your gratitude to United States military service members especially throughout Thanksgiving and the holiday season by donating and/or pitching in to help.

Meantime, enjoy these recent successful pet chit stories!

 

The Posey Family

Ben, who serves in the United States Army, and Amber are truly giving thanks these days. Their baby, Brayden was born premature while the couple was stationed in Japan. The family had to travel to Hawaii for Brayden’s heart surgery, before being transported to Portsmouth Naval hospital in Virginia where more surgery followed.

Through it all, the Posey family did everything possible to ensure their beloved dogs would remain with them. They were granted $3,000 in pet chit assistance to help with travel expenses for their dogs, Saban and Kuma, who had to travel back from Japan. “Thank you for your generous donation,” said the Posey family. “It has helped us, and we are hopeful with the medical issues behind us we can begin our journey home.”

1-saban-ben-posey
Kuma the German Shepard is over two years old.
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Kuma, in the front, and brother Saban in the back, are both males. Saban is a mixed breed and is 4 years old.
The couple keeps watch over their newborn son, Brayden.
The couple keeps watch over their newborn son, Brayden.

 

 

 

November is Military Family Appreciation Month – find a way to show you care!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tavizon Family

Corey Tavizon, of the United States Marine Corps, and wife Christel are currently stationed in Okinawa, Japan with their two large dogs. Although they’re not scheduled to PCS until next July, they want to do the right thing for their dog Bear, whose health gets compromised by the heat. Bear would be better off flying back home with the Tavizons when they come to visit family in the US in December. The pet chit granted for $600 will enable them to make his travel plans.

Christel Tavison said “my husband and I are so grateful for the pet chit program. It will make it possible for us to get our dog back home safely. We feel extremely grateful!”

 

Bear is a 2 year old Male Bernese Mountain dog.
Bear is a 2 year old Male Bernese Mountain dog.
Bear will be an even happier boy very soon.
Bear will be an even happier boy very soon.

 

The Miller Family

Corporal Hudson Miller serves in the United States Marine Corps. After being at MCRD San Diego for only 18 months, he and his wife Hannah received PCS orders to Japan. Without question, they planned to find a way to bring their dog, Bella with them.

Bella is more than just a faithful and loving companion whom the Millers rescued. She was registered as an emotional support animal to assist Hannah in dealing with some health issues. The dog has helped, for example, with panic attacks. A pet chit for $1600 was granted to the Miller family.

Said Corporal Miller, “we are so glad that Bella made it to Okinawa to be with us now, thanks to you guys. Without your support, we would not have been able to afford to get her here!”

Bella is a German Shepard/Rough Collie mix, who is approximately 1 and 1/2 years old.
Bella is a German Shepard/Rough Collie mix, who is approximately 1 and 1/2 years old.

 

The Zeigler Family

Samantha Ziegler of the United States Army and her husband are both active duty. They bought a house in Nebraska where they thought they would live forever with their two dogs. Instead, they received a surprise assignment overseas to the U.K.

The Zieglers planned to somehow transport their dogs, and were opposed to splitting them up since the dogs are completely bonded to one another! Their desire was to just be one happy family, hiking with both dogs in Wales, England and Scotland. They received $1800 in pet chit assistance.

“Thanks so much for considering us! We are now excited to all travel soon, and are very grateful for the assistance with PCS costs,” said Samantha.

Moxy, on the left is a female hound mix, and her brother Courage, on the right is a flat-coated retriever mix.
Moxy, on the left is a female hound mix, and her brother Courage, on the right is a flat-coated retriever mix.
Courage and Moxy, both rescue dogs, celebrate Halloween recently, dressed as "Lion Kings!"
Courage and Moxy, both rescue dogs, celebrate Halloween recently, dressed as “Lion Kings!”

 

The Wilson Family

Randy Wilson serves in the United States Coast Guard, Virginia. He was ready to PCS to Japan with his wife, Katya, and their toddler, when a last minute and unexpected change meant space was no longer available for their dog.

After reaching out to Dogs on Deployment, a pet chit for $260 was granted to the Wilson family to help with travel arrangements for Athena.

Said Katya, “I wanted to say thank you for giving us the chance to use your service! Every little bit does help to pay the bill. Also, could you please tell us when Athena will be featured? We would love to have a copy of the edition.”

Athena is a 4 year old, pure breed female Doberman.
Athena is a 4 year old, pure breed female Doberman.
Athena chills, and gets ready for her close-up.
Athena chills, and gets ready for her close-up.

 

The Westling Family

David Westling serves in the United States Army, Ohio. The family was prepared to PCS to Okinawa, Japan, with their Dog Lizzie traveling to meet them there. But they found out upon departure that the tarmac was being repaired and the government rotators were down, forcing them to fly commercially. This left Lizzie out of the picture.

The family temporarily was forced to temporarily board the dog in Ohio while they sought other travel options for her. They were granted a pet chit for $1,000 to help with the costs of the dog’s overseas flight.

Said David, “Thank you, Dogs on Deployment. We were running out of options and didn’t know who else to turn to!”

Sweet, loving Lizzie is a young, female Bull Mastiff.
Sweet, loving Lizzie is a young, female Bull Mastiff.

 

Hey – every dog has his day – but cats do, too at Dogs on Deployment!

We also recently helped some feline furry friends!

The Oxford Family

Andrew Oxford serves in the United States Coast Guard. He, his wife Ashley, and their two small children received a PCS to Japan in 2015. Soon they adopted two kittens from a kill shelter, and the family was complete.

Unfortunately, shortly after adoption, the entire family developed a severe case of ringworm. Numerous veterinary test eventually determined that the kittens, Nora and Ziggy, must have contracted the disease at the shelter, became asymptomatic carriers, then spread the virus to the people in their household.

The Oxford family had to endure months of having the kittens in quarantine until they were healthy. They then found out that they’d have to relocate again, this time to the United Kingdom. Dogs on Deployment granted them a pet chit in the amount of $1250.

Andrew said, “thank you, Dogs on Deployment. These combined expenses have severely stressed my family’s finances. We appreciate the help to ease the cost of keeping my family whole!”

The beautiful and brave Ziggy, one of the happy cats in the Oxford family.
The beautiful and brave Ziggy, one of the happy cats in the Oxford family.

 

The Valdelamar Family

Jennifer Valdelamar serves in the United States Marine Corps. She, her husband and their two cats were living in Japan until it was determined that Jennifer would have to complete school in Jacksonville, FL. This meant her husband would be fulfilling his military duties in Japan on his own, and be forced to live in the barracks, where no animals are allowed.

She was concerned about having both of their cats fly for the first time, and then realized she’d only be able to afford travel arrangements for herself and one of the cats, Loki.

Dogs on Deployment granted a pet chit for $700, which eventually helped Jennifer be reunited with the family’s other cat, Zelda, back in the United States.

Jennifer says, “we are extremely grateful for this service! The help from Dogs on Deployment is truly appreciated. Thank you – it means everything to my little family and me!”

The gorgeous cat, Zelda looks forward to a sweet family reunion!
The gorgeous cat, Zelda looks forward to a sweet family reunion!

 

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Dogs on Deployment can assist military members thanks to its network of volunteers. Through our network of people helping people and their pets, 1015 pets in need have so far found temporary care in the homes of DoD Boarders during their owner’s military commitments.

Pet Chit Success Means Bailey Can Bounce Back

Dogs Like Bailey Help with PTSD

After completely tearing her ACL, Bailey, a Siberian Husky and beloved pet of Erik and Jennifer Comstock, required veterinary surgery to repair it. With the help of the Dogs on Deployment Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program, Bailey’s family was able to schedule the operation and it was a success.

 

Beautiful Bailey, a Siberian Husky and member of the Comstock Family
Beautiful Bailey, a Siberian Husky and member of the Comstock Family

 

The Dogs on Deployment Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program (https://www.dogsondeployment.org/index.php?/financial_assistance/guest_petchit_register#register_tabs1) has helped hundreds of military service members meet the costs of unexpected veterinary care and emergencies since the organization was first started, granting a grand total of over $250,000 and counting! DoD has also proudly helped deploy over 1012 – so far! – dogs and pets of all kinds, reuniting them with U.S. military families stationed around the world.

Bailey’s story is significant since this beautiful dog has helped co-owner/co-parent Erik Comstock, E-4 veteran of the United States Army, cope with some of the anxiety and depression brought on by PTSD, and the frustrations of back and hip pain which have so far required him to undergo surgery twice. Eric is now a disabled veteran who served two tours in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. We are grateful to Eric for his service, and thank him and his wife, Jennifer for sharing their story.

 

A Powerful Bond with Man’s Best Friend

Bailey was rescued along with the other lucky dogs who are part of the Comstock family. One other Husky and two Pomeranians round out the pack. Bailey is roughly two years old, adores her playmate “Dory,” (also a Husky) and loves running around as much as a typical Husky does – which is a lot! Jennifer refers to the running laps Bailey does around the yard as “zoomies!” Beyond that, it seems Bailey knows that she has an important mission to fulfill.  Says Jennifer, “Bailey has truly become Erik’s best friend. Whenever Bailey thinks Erik is upset and struggling with the many effects of his PTSD, she forces him to pet her and then gives him non-stop kisses to try to relax him.”

 

Bailey, shown here with playmate/sister Dory to her right, and other siblings Jazmine and McKenzie, to Bailey's left side.
Bailey, shown here with playmate/sister Dory to her right, and other siblings Jazmine and McKenzie, to Bailey’s left side.

 

Initially, Eric couldn’t figure out why Bailey paid him this level of attention. The dog literally would demand that Eric pet her by getting in his space, sitting right in front of him, staring and pawing at him. Eventually, he and his wife realized that Bailey behaved this way every single time she sensed that Eric was getting upset over something. Bailey’s way of calming him down and deescalating the situation was to make Eric stop doing anything and have him only pay attention to her. And while Eric questioned it at first, he and Jennifer eventually made the connection and realized that Bailey’s presence did in fact make a difference in their lives.

Jennifer continues, “since coming into our home, this incredible dog has done everything in her power to help Eric. In return, we want to do everything in our power to help her!”

 

Injury, Surgery, Recovery

Bailey the escape artist got out from under the 6-foot fence in the Comstock’s yard one night and temporarily went missing. About seven hours later, neighbors alerted the family that Bailey had been found and they were all united. It soon became apparent to Eric and Jennifer, however, that Bailey was hurt. They gave her a couple of weeks’ time to heal, but seeing Bailey limp after her “zoomies” made it clear that the dog required veterinary care. X-rays revealed the torn ACL, and the determination was made that she would require extensive surgery.

After Bailey was injured, the Comstock family reached out to Dogs on Deployment for help covering their hefty vet bill. They applied in late August, 2016. Within two days of receiving their application, Dogs on Deployment was able to approve and apply a grant of $980.00 to help cover the surgery! We give thanks to our donors and sponsors who make this possible, and remind you that anyone can donate at www.bit.ly/dod-donate.

 

POST-OP: Bailey rests with her leg bandaged and cone to keep her safe.
POST-OP: Bailey rests with her leg bandaged and cone to keep her safe.

 

On October 3, 2016, Bailey underwent surgery for her torn ACL, which according to the attending veterinarian, was really, really bad.” With Bailey’s successful surgery behind them, the Comstock family has to give her time to heal, in this case about three-four weeks’ time. You can be sure though that going forward Bailey will resume active duty — attending to and loving Eric as best she can.

 “All she wants to do is make sure Erik is feeling better and she will do anything she can to make sure it happens,” said Jennifer.  Go Bailey, go!

The Pet Chit Program & How to Get Help

A Pet Chit Award may be given pre-deployment, in a time of emergency such as an unexpected illness or injury, to help with emergency boarding, homelessness or other extreme financial circumstance, as well as for transportation costs associated with an emergency or general PCS move.

Without the generous donations of our supporters, the Dogs on Deployment Pet Chit Financial Assistance program would not be possible. You may make a donation directly our Pet Chit program by donating at www.bit.ly/dod-donate and selecting Donate to the Pet Chit Fund from the drop down menu. To learn more about Dogs on Deployment’s Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program or to apply for a grant, visit www.bit.ly/dod-petchit or contact us at petchit@dogsondeployment.org.

 

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.

westwaystudio-dogsondeployment-110615-52-edit
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.

Editor:

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?

Alisa:

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.

Editor:

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?

Alisa:

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!

Editor:

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?

Alisa:

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.

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

Alisa:

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:

https://youtu.be/a9cU-oK601s

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

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Returning to Gunner: A Homecoming Tale

 

Emotions run high when a military service member returns from his or her assignment to pick up their beloved pet from a Dogs on Deployment boarder. This was true for Sara Liming, United States Navy, when she recently reunited with her dog, Gunner, a beautiful brindle colored Boxer mix who turns four years old this June. She can remember getting Gunner when he was no bigger than her boots.

Sara visited a San Antonio, Texas animal shelter, where she officially adopted Gunner ‘Bubs’ Liming. Gunner told us that he had her at “hello,” after which he climbed on Sara’ lap and immediately fell asleep.
Sara visited a San Antonio, Texas animal shelter, where she officially adopted Gunner ‘Bubs’ Liming. Gunner told us that he had her at “hello,” after which he climbed on Sara’s lap and immediately fell asleep.

 

The Bond Between a Dog Like Gunner and Sara

As a member of the United States Navy, Sara Liming, like any member of the armed services repeatedly encounters situations which can induce stress easily and quickly. The reality is that sometimes friends, and fellow brothers and sisters in arms often find themselves in danger, and everyone faces the real possibility of death. But Sara says, “no matter how dark my days might get with work or life in general, when I come home and see my dog Gunner wagging his tail and happily jumping all over me, any issue seems to melt away as I stare at that little furry face of my pound puppy.”

Sara had never been away from Gunner longer than a day or two when she found out that she would be deploying in 2015. She’d deployed with the Navy before, but this was the first time that Sara had anything back home that she “was worried about – worried about losing, or hurting. Gunner had been everywhere with me up to that point,” added Sara. “He used to go to duty with me and play with students and walk around base with me at work. I had mixed emotions about going because I didn’t want to leave something behind that had become such an integral part of my life.”

In an effort to solve the gut-wrenching dilemma someone recommended Dogs on Deployment to Sara, but initially she had reservations about the idea, wondering how random people would just volunteer to take your pet into their homes and love them as one of their own.

Since the day I rescued Gunner he rescues me every day with those adorable brown eyes and his unconditional love, says Sara Liming, Gunner’s owner.
“Since the day I rescued Gunner he rescues me every day with those adorable brown eyes and his unconditional love,” says Sara Liming, Gunner’s owner.

 

 

 

Sara was terrified that if she left Gunner with someone long term then they either wouldn’t give him back upon request, (“because he’s amazing!”) or Gunner wouldn’t remember her. She decided to check out DoD anyway.

DoD Boarders Give New Meaning to “Peace of Mind”

Sara first met Carla Schultes, Gunner’s potential DoD boarder online, where the two exchanged emails. Carla is actually a well experienced and wonderful representative for Dogs on Deployment’s boarding program, who has a dog of her own and has previously fostered other dogs. Carla told us “Dogs on Deployment combines two of my greatest passions, i.e., supporting those who serve in the military and helping animals.” (Before any boarding agreement is reached, Dogs on Deployment takes measures to ensure a successful boarding experience and smooth transition for all involved; see DoD Policy Guidelines on this website).

Though an old pro at this, Carla did tell us that first meetings among everyone involved are “a little strange – like a blind date!”  But Sara’s fears were put to rest because, as she says, “Gunner loved Carla the minute we pulled up. He was so excited when he met her, all smiles and loving on him. Then he met Carla’s dog and the two were instant friends. The more Gunner interacted with her, her husband and her dog the more at ease I felt. I didn’t think it would click right away, but before I left they offered to foster Gunner.” Carla remembers that “Luckily for us, it was a match! Gunner and our dog, Donovan, got along well and once Jon and I spent some time with Gunner, we knew he was a happy-go-lucky guy who would be just fine with our family.”

Adds Sara, “Finding someone who loved their dog as much as I love Gunner made it easier for me to leave him. The passion and love Carla has for what she does, and for her family and dog, Donovan, made me feel that Gunner would be loved and cared for the same amount as though it were coming from me.”

Pals Gunner, and Donovan.
Pals Gunner, and Donovan.

Sara’s ship deployed Sept 10, 2015, for what turned out to be her third and longest deployment. Having photos and videos emailed to her from Carla “helped me get through the rough patches of deployment where there seemed to be endless work and not enough sleep. The day I returned to San Diego the only thought on my mind was getting home and then to Los Angeles to get my baby, Gunner,” continued Sara. “The entire deployment I had kept his pictures in my rack, on my phone, on my computer, traveling with them, and now I was a two-hour drive from seeing Gunner. I remember worrying that he wouldn’t remember me, and that maybe he was happier with his foster family. It was all I could think about the entire drive — after seven long months, will my dog remember me?”

How Sweet It Is

Sara finally arrived at Carla’s house for her reunion with Gunner. She remembers her dog’s boarder greeting her and welcoming Sara home with a “giant, warm smile. Carla turned to go into her house first and I followed. I barely made it into the front door before Gunner pounced. He immediately began whining and jumping at my legs, nearly knocking me down. He was trying to lick my face, smell me and climb up into my arms all at the same time. All I wanted to do was hug him and smell his puppy smell to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. This once little dog who I saved still saves me, remembers and loves me like no time at all had passed — as if I’d just left to go to the store. “

Their Reunion – “Gunner just kept jumping up and licking me for a long time, “ Sara told us.
Their Reunion – “Gunner just kept jumping up and licking me for a long time, “ Sara told us.

 

“When he finally settled he stayed close to me and every time I walked away towards another room in Carla’s house Gunner made sure I was within sight, welcoming me back each time with a throng of kisses. People always say a dog is not a child, he or she is a pet. My dog is my life, and I can’t remember being so happy and so elated over a ‘pet’ in my life!” Sara added, “I love Carla and Jon for their amazing care of my boy while I was gone. They are the most fantastic couple to do what they do and ask nothing in return. They loved and cared for Gunner like he was their own precious Donovan and I am eternally grateful.”

Modest as always, Carla says, “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! “

Says Carla, pictured here with Sara, Donavan and Gunner, “for us the reunion is the best gift of all!”
Says Carla, pictured here with Sara, Donovan and Gunner, “for us the reunion is the best gift of all!”

 

Carla adds that when people ask about the Dogs on Deployment program, she always tells them “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!”

Agreed.

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!

 

 

 

March Madness & The Final Four Have Nothing on Our Grateful Eight Military Families

Pet Chits Lead to Many Happy Reunions

Military members across this nation confront a multitude of problems during their careers; the last thing they need to worry about is their pet’s care during their service commitments. Dogs On Deployment promotes responsible, life-long pet ownership by military pet owners by advocating for military pet owner rights, providing educational resources and granting financial assistance (in the form of “Pet Chits” through our Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program) for military pet owners, whenever possible. One of the ways these pet chits help our military members and their pets is by allowing them to reunite when PCS costs would have prohibited them from staying together.

Happy Spring Time and Thanks from the Grateful Eight

As of press time, we were unable to complete all playoff brackets for the beloved pets of our military families. Rather than the “Sweet Sixteen,” we offer these “Grateful Eight” recent pet chit success stories, in no particular order.

Rogue Rejoins Her Family

Michael Akins, United States Army, received orders to Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa, Japan. The Akins family desperately wanted to take the family pet with them.

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“Rogue is like another child to us,” say the Akins.

The Akins have three children, ages 13, 9 and 1, who are deeply bonded with Rogue and couldn’t bear to be separated from her. “We agreed to do whatever it takes to get our dog over there with us, but would love the assistance. We only have one income at this time to support us due to the military relocation and would appreciate any help possible to cover Rogue’s travel expenses to Japan.” The Akins appreciated the pet chit of $1170 granted to their family.

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Rogue is a German Shepard with long ears that require the biggest travel kennel available. The Easter Bunny’s ears had nothing on her!

Meet Sadie, a Special Little Lady, and Big Part of Her Family

Patrick Herglotz, United States Marine Corps, tried to get his dogs back with him and the family upon return to the United States. “Bo,” one of the Herglotz family dogs, was taken in at just 13 weeks old. They later adopted Sadie from a family that no longer wanted her. The family insists, “we have been Sadie’s fourth owners and we will be her last!”

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“Sadie has been a wonderful dog – leaving her and Bo behind was not an option for us,” says the Herglotz Family.

They add that “PCSing can be very stressful and expensive. More than you can imagine, we would appreciate any help that is given to us during our move back to the states. We love the dogs very much and thank you for your consideration!” Fortunately, DoD was able to produce a pet chit for $2600 to help keep the entire Herglotz family together.

Mona Meows and Avoids a Cat – astrophe

Dogs on Deployment recognizes that cats are also special members of our military families! Upon receiving orders, Nathan Harrison, United States Air Force, and his wife Amber recently reported to Japan, but were unable to get a spot for their beloved cat, Mona.

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Mona’s beautiful coat could be considered a style of camouflage – how appropriate!

Anyone with a kitty could tell you that it’s just not the same when you can’t enjoy their purring and playing when you are together. And so we give equal props to Mona, the cat. The Harrisons gratefully accepted a pet chit for $1050 which they used for Mona’s transport.

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Mona makes a purr-fect addition to the Harrison family.

Dodge & Jax: Partners in Pet Chit Success

Jeffrey Finnesgard, United States Marine Corps, and wife Bernice were in need of a pet chit to help pay for flying their two dogs back to Rochester, Minnesota before the heat embargo started.

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This canine dynamic duo are partners ‘til the end.

Dogs on Deployment provided a pet chit for $2000 to make the trip back home possible.

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Dodge is a 3.5-year-old Okinawa mix.
IMG_9799
Jax is a 1.5-year-old mini bull terrier.

The Finnesgard Family told us, “this is fantastic — we are so grateful for the help!”

Mac: Man’s Best Friend, for Sure

Mac, the mostly-Husky, is best friend to Ronald Munsterman, United States Marine Corps, and an integral part of his family.

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Mac is the Munsterman fur baby, who helps make their world a happier place.

They requested a pet chit to help pay for transport, medical testing and quarantining that would enable Mac to come to Hawaii to join the Munsterman family. They always knew Mac was the dog for them, even after Mac’s initial rescue group suggested that perhaps the family wound want a pure bred husky instead of him. Based on Mac’s description over the phone alone, Ronald Munsterman replied, “that’s my dog. I’m coming to get him.”

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Mac is speechless about the DoD assistance.

The family was grateful for the pet chit of $920 that reunited them all. “We thought we were out of luck. This means the world to our family!” said the Munstermans.

Suki Seeks to Rejoin Her Family

Joseph LeSueur, United States Marine Corps, along with his family just received orders to return to America and report to Camp Pendleton this coming July.

Diego and Suki
Diego, son of GySgt Joseph L. LeSueur, USMC, and Suki, their family dog.

Suki the dog was not about to be left behind. In need of assistance with travel costs, the LeSeur family reached out to Sarah’s Pet Paradise, who offered some financial aid, but not enough for the single-income family.

Suki's birthday
Suki now looks forward to celebrating birthdays and more with the family.

Me and Suki

The LeSeur family was assisted with a Pet Chit for $380. “We’re so very grateful for your organization’s help with our move back to America,” they told DoD.

Zingo, the Dog, Benefits Too

Margaret O’Brien, United States Marine Corps, and her family received orders to report to Okinawa, Japan. Everyone, and especially the three young O’Brien family children are very attached to their wonderful dog, Zingo.

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Zingo, the O’Brien family dog, aka their “spoiled fur child.”

The stress of moving is difficult enough, but no one would bear the thought of not taking ZIngo with them to live elsewhere. Travel costs proved to be a problem at first for the single-income family.The family was aided with a pet chit for $1050, and is very appreciative. “We all would have been devastated without Zingo. Thank you so much,” added the O’Briens.

Violet Smells Sweet Pet Chit Success

Tiffany Gaustad, United States Air Force, and her family received orders to report to Germany. Violet, their dog, remained home in the United States at first since there was a lack of funds to transport her to Germany, and not enough room on the outgoing flights.

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Violet patiently waits on the Gaustad family reunion.

When space was at last available to fly out, the Gaustads turned to Dogs on Deployment for financial assistance. A pet chit in the amount of $1500 was granted to the Gaustads. They gratefully welcomed back Violet to make their family complete once more.

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Violet and the Gaustad family are back in the saddle again.

They gratefully welcomed back Violet to make their family complete once more, and “send their heartfelt thanks to DoD.”

A Little Giving Goes a Long Way

Dogs on Deployment’s Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program has granted nearly $200,000 to help military families for help with their pets’ care during financial need. Nearly 75% of all incoming donations to Dogs on Deployment go directly to supporting military families.  In 2014, DoD granted nearly $28,000 in Pet Chits, and in 2015, we set a goal of $40,000. We succeeded their goal by nearly 300%, and granted nearly $120,000. This year, DoD has set a goal of granting $120,000; and we’re sure we can beat it again.

But not without your help.

One recipient of a Pet Chit wrote to our donors, “I would say that with all the terrible things happening around the world it is so heartwarming to know that there are people who want to help strangers out of the pure kindness of their heart. I think it speaks volumes about someone’s beliefs and priorities when they decide to help people and lessen their burden when they are not required to. I am so very grateful.”

Your contributions matter. Please give at www.bit.ly/dod-donate

 

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.”

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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.

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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