Tag Archives: help dogs on deployment

Jacquie Nichols Mikolaczyk Awarded Volunteer of the Quarter 3, 2016

Dogs on Deployment Volunteer, Jacquie Nichols Mikolaczyk
of Pensacola, FL, Earns Distinction with
Volunteer of the Quarter 3, 2016 Award

 

Jackie Nichols Mikolaczyk, Gulf Coast DoD Coordinator, with Alisa Johnson, President and Co-Founder, Dogs on Deployment

 

Jacquie Nichols Mikolaczyk Recognized for her Efforts and Dedication to Dogs on Deployment

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

Alisa Johnson, President and Co-Founder of Dogs on Deployment, proudly announced that Jacquie Nichols Mikolaczyk is the recipient of our “Volunteer of the Quarter” award for the third quarter of 2016. The event was recorded, and the link provided here will take you to that video, on our Facebook – DoD: Gulf Coast page.

https://www.facebook.com/pg/DoDGulfCoast/videos/?ref=page_internal

 

Passion & Conviction, Onward…

Since the summer of 2014, Jacquie has been an important member of the Dogs on Deployment team. She first began volunteering with Dogs on Deployment in the Pensacola, Florida region of the country. There, she impressed other volunteers with her dedication to the cause, and her driving passion to promote the mission of Dogs on Deployment.

When the previous Pensacola Local Coordinator for Dogs on Deployment moved from the area, Jacquie was the obvious choice to step up in the vacant role. She enthusiastically accepted the position, and soon proved that she was up for the challenge, far exceeding the expectations of the leaders of the organization.

Jacquie has a contagious spunk and has never meet a stranger. She was responsible for coordinating several events in and around the Pensacola and Lower Alabama areas, including several successful Beer, Dog, Veteran fundraising events, and Dogs on Deployment’s first ever Poker Run. As a direct result of Jacquis’ networking efforts, the Pensacola, FL Chapter of Dogs on Deployment gained several important donors and sponsors in the area — including Navy Federal Credit Union, Harley Davidson of Pensacola, and Pen Air Federal Credit Union.

 

Jacquie, representing DoD at Beer, Dogs and Veterans event
Jacquie at the Marine Corps League Speaking Series, with Retired Navy Pilot Honored for Native American Heritage

 

 

 

… and Upward

In 2016, when the position for Dogs on Deployment, Gulf Coast Regional Coordinator became vacant, once again, Jacquie was the obvious choice to step up to this role and begin leading the entire Gulf Coast.

Since taking over in that capacity, Jacquie has put the growth and success of the Gulf Coast Region into hyperdrive, while continuing to grow the local Pensacola Chapter. She has brought on new, passionate local coordinators in both Huntsville, AL and Jacksonville, FL along with many more volunteers. She not only works hard, but works to recognize the volunteers around her through her “Feel Good Friday” Facebook posts.

At the recent award ceremony, Jackie told us, “I have never been more honored to a part of an organization than I was today. I get to do something I love to do, along with people that have become a family — Dogs on Deployment. Thank you so very much!”

 

High Praise from Dogs on Deployment President, Alisa Johnson

“Jacquie is a motivated, passionate and reliable leader. Her dedication to Dogs on Deployment has been a tremendous asset to those around her, and those throughout the organization. She is a respected member of the team not only by her fellow volunteers, but also by the Board of Directors. Jacquie willingly makes herself available, offers her attendance whenever needed, and demonstrates a genuine passion for the organization’s mission.”

President & Co-Founder, Dogs on Deployment, Alisa Johnson added, “Due to her hard work, contagious positivity, and strong dedication, I am sincerely proud to call Jacquie a team member of Dogs on Deployment. Keep up the good work!

We look forward to your continued support for many years to come.”

 

 

Life-Saving Spay/Neuter Programs & Pet Chit Updates

 

Military Members Receive DoD Pet Chits & Support when Seeking Veterinary Care

 

Dogs on Deployment understands that pets do a great deal to enhance and complete our lives in numerous ways. DoD aims to promote responsible, lifelong pet ownership within the military-pet community. Dogs on Deployment’s military-pet foster network reunites as many military families with their pets as possible, and the Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program helps with the financial costs.

Dogs on Deployment Pet Chits have helped military members with veterinary expenses, including the costs of spaying and neutering. It’s part of our responsibility to emphasize the importance of these procedures, particularly now as the Humane Society of the United States prepares to celebrate World Spay Day on February 28, 2017. (See http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/spay_day/?referrer=https://www.google.com/ for details).

Veterinarians have determined:

  • Spaying our female pets and neutering our male pets helps us to prevent further pet overpopulation. Overpopulation in shelters leads to senseless euthanasia every single day.
  • Spaying females helps prevent uterine infections and breast tumors – which are malignant or cancerous in roughly 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. Spaying female pets before their first heat (when they become reproductive) will offer them the best protection from these diseases.
  • Neutering our male pets prevents diseases like testicular cancer and some prostrate problems. It can also help eliminate behavioral issues like urinating to “mark,” or designate a spot.

 

SNAP to It

To help educate and assist military pet owners in spaying and neutering their companion animals, Dogs on Deployment has partnered in San Diego, CA with the Spay Neuter Action Project (SNAP). The efforts of Rich Setzer, DoD Coordinator in San Diego, made this possible. He takes every opportunity to publicize the program and to educate active duty personnel.

 

 

Rich Setzer had specific goals in mind when he initiated the DoD partnership with San Diego SNAP. He sought to:

  • Inform the local military community about Dogs on Deployment;
  • Publicize our financial assistance Pet Chit assistance program;
  • Provide a way for junior enlisted service members (E-6 and below) to get their pets spayed or neutered at no cost to them; and,
  • Spend the DoD Pet Chit funds in the most effective way possible.

After laying the groundwork, and having multiple discussions to work out the details, the Mil-SNAP program was rolled out in October 2016.

Rich says, “now whenever someone calls SNAP to schedule surgery, among the first questions their Intake Coordinators ask is whether the pet owner is military — and what their pay grade is. If that pet owner qualifies, SNAP staff informs them about the Mil-SNAP program, and provides them with access to a Dogs on Deployment Pet Chit application.”

Many military families who have benefited from Pet Chit assistance expressed their gratitude to SNAP, to DoD, and Rich in particular — see some of their happy Pet Chit updates in the stories that follow!

 

Successful Pet Chit Stories & Spay/Neuter Updates

 

Hatchie the Husky – Torres Family

“Hatchie came to us after he was abandoned. Siberian Huskies, as we found out, are known to be great escape artists,” said Lucy Torres, E-6, of the US Coast Guard. “Since he was already a three year old dog, Hatchie needed to be neutered right away. Through the SNAP program we found Dogs on Deployment. The procedure was easy, and the people involved at SNAP took care of Hatchie as if he was part of their own family.”

“The dog was groggy for a while post-surgery, and for the following week had to wear his ‘cone of shame.’ After that though, Hatchie was able to return to his favorite activities and he continues to get to know and enjoy us, his new family. Thanks Dogs on Deployment!”

 

Jager the Dog – Atnip Family

“Jager is honored to be part of your blog,” says Chelsea Atnip, wife of Daniel Atnip, E-5, of the US Coast Guard. Dogs on Deployment makes it so much easier for military families to take care of their fur babies – thank you so much for considering us!”

 

 

Jager is an awesome, seven-month-old mixed breed dog, who loves playing with his older buddy Spaz, as well as sometimes harassing the kitty. He has tons of energy and loves going for hikes. Post his neuter procedure, Jager had to wear the protective cone, but healed very well and is doing great. He can again enjoy trips to the beach, which is a favorite spot. Chelsea added, “we are so grateful to DoD and to the wonderful people at SNAP for offering such a great program for our family! Thanks again!”

 

Winter the Cat – Barber Family

Winter is a beautiful, female Norwegian Forest Mainecoon mix cat, who belongs to Margaret and Michael Barber, E-3, US Coast Guard. She was recently spayed through the SNAP program. “Thank you,” says Margaret Barber.

“The SNAP group was professional, extremely organized and efficient. Winter received a blue soft cone collar after surgery, and her recovery was wonderful. Watching her shaved belly fill back in only took about a week. I’ve already recommended SNAP to a few other military families in need of spay and neuter services for their pets.”

 

More Gratitude for Spay & Neuter Successes

Gonzalez Family: Juan Colon Gonzales, US Coast Guard, indicated that his family had two male dogs, neither of which was previously neutered. They used SNAP to neuter both their Husky, and their Pomerian, Jack, pictured here.

 

Tandoc Family: Jusper Tandoc, E-4, US Coast Guard and family had their dog Cujo (pictured below) neutered with SNAP.

 

Melendez Family: Jonathan Melendez, E-4, US Marine Corps and his family had their dog Milo (pictured below) neutered with SNAP.

 

Snyder Family: Lukas Snyder, E-5, US Coast Guard and wife, Haley had their dog Max (pictured below) neutered with SNAP.

 

 

REMIND YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS TO SPAY AND NEUTER! 

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May: Memorials, Military Appreciation, and Reflection

National Military Spouse Day was recognized May 6, 2016. Each year on that day the United States acknowledges the significant contributions, support, and sacrifices of spouses of members of the Armed Forces.

Armed Forces Day was recognized May 21, 2016. Created in 1939 to replace the separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Days, this single day celebration stemmed from the unification of the Armed Forces under the Department of Defense.

And of course, Memorial Day, celebrated this year on Monday, May 30 honors all men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.

As your Dogs on Defense Military Pet Tails Blog Editor, I salute everyone in all branches of the United States service and humbly want to offer a sincere thank you. I myself have never served in the military, but a number of people in my family have proudly done so.

My gratitude and appreciation for United States service members and their families runs deep. I hold enormous reverence towards each of you, in every military branch for your dedication and the selfless service you give to our fine country and to regular citizens like me. I have learned over time how blessed I am to have you representing me.

  • As a young woman I curiously watched an old man salute our United States flag in the morning. I learned years later that “Izzy” made that same salute every single morning upon coming outdoors. Izzy was on a ship in Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked.
  • On 9-11, I watched dumbstruck from outside my office building — Tower One of the World Trade Center — as one plane after another struck the buildings, eventually killing colleagues and friends of mine. For the first time, I understood survivor’s guilt. As it turns out, I had seen the iconic New York City skyline I’d always known for the last time.
  • As a woman some years later I encountered a different old man who chatted with me about matters including the modern state of warfare. “Bill” was troubled that enemies no longer clearly identified themselves while fighting and instead hid in caves. Bill had been captured at 17 years old by the Germans in the Battle of the Bulge.

It is my distinct honor to fly the United States flag everyday outside of the home I share with my beloved husband, himself a onetime U.S. Navy cryptographer.

And, as a regular citizen, it is also my privilege to serve as the Military Pet Tails Blog Editor for Dogs on Deployment. It enables me to lend my skills and support to a cause that I wholeheartedly believe in. The efforts of this organization are vitally important.

Anyone wondering how to support our troops can consider lending his or her time and talents to Dogs on Deployment. Volunteers are always needed and serve in a variety of capacities. You do not need experience with or knowledge of military life.

I am proof that you don’t have to be in the military to support the military or its causes, and I can tell you that my experience with DoD is very rewarding. I love serving as your Editor, and sincerely hope to be able to do so for many years to come.

Dogs on Deployment Military Pet Tails Blog Editor, Susan Nitka, with Lucy, her Jack Russell Terrier. Susan handles all the writing, while Lucy manages the editorial calendar.
Dogs on Deployment Military Pet Tails Blog Editor, Susan Nitka, with Lucy, her Jack Russell Terrier.  Susan handles all the writing, while Lucy manages the editorial calendar.

Thank you to my Dogs on Deployment colleagues and friends for this opportunity. God bless all the United States military, and especially those we remember on Memorial Day.

 

2016 Veterans Charity Challenge 4 is Here

Support Dogs on Deployment in our Quest to Be the Best in the 2016 Veterans Charity Challenge 4

Dogs on Deployment will again this year participate in the upcoming Veterans Charity Challenge 4, which launches May 25th at 12pm ET, and runs through July 6th at 1:59:59pm ET. It is our hope, according to Dogs on Deployment President and Co-Founder, Alisa Johnson that DoD comes in first place in 2016 and meets the goal of raising over $40,000 (what’s that? – do I hear $50,000?!) to directly benefit the Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program. Our successful Pet Chit program strives to keep military families together with their pets. Dogs on Deployment came in second place the last two years it participated in this friendly competition.

The Veterans Charity Challenge 4 (VCC4) is an online fundraising challenge created and hosted by Craigslist founder and philanthropist Craig Newmark. His efforts have already significantly helped to raise both money and awareness for organizations benefitting America’s heroes, including military members and their families. Through the VCC4 and his charity, craigconnects, Mr. Newmark has pledged to give a total of $50,000 to a variety of nonprofit organizations. Follow this link for more information. https://www.crowdrise.com/veteranscharitychallenge4

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

The organization that succeeds in raising the most money during the fundraiser will be awarded additional big money prizes!

  • First place receives $20,000
  • Second place receives $10,000
  • Third place receives $5,000
  • Fourth place receives $2,500
  • Fifth place receives $1,000

Dogs on Deployment raised $32,800 in 2014 and $31,266 in 2015, coming in second place both years. Those are impressive numbers for sure, but the Veterans Charity Challenge is our one and only fundraising campaign of the year! Our goal is to raise $40,000 in 2016 and get first place bonus money.

  • Any monies raised are 100% tax-exempt donations.
  • Total money raised goes directly to supporting Dogs on Deployment’s foster network and our Pet Chit Program.
  • People can contribute locally through their local DoD chapters; and
  • Anyone can fundraise for Dogs on Deployment by joining the team.

There are prizes for the top fundraising teams! BONUS CHALLENGES to win too!!

But Wait, … There’s More!

In addition to the overall prizes, there are bonus challenges we can win. Bonus challenges take place at different intervals during the overall competition and represent an additional opportunity to show support of Dogs on Deployment.

BONUS CHALLENGE #1: MAY 25 – MAY 31

The organization that raises the most online this week will win $1,500.

BONUS CHALLENGE #2: MAY 31 – JUNE 7

Every organization that raises at least $500 this week will be entered to win $1,500. And, there will be 2 winners.

BONUS CHALLENGE #3: JUNE 7 – JUNE 14

The two organizations that raise the most online this week will play Rock, Paper, Scissors. The organization that wins Rock, Paper, Scissors gets $1,000 and the organization that does not win gets $500.

BONUS CHALLENGE #4: JUNE 14 – JUNE 21

Every charity that raises at least $200 online this week will get entered to win $200. There will be 10 winners.

BONUS CHALLENGE #5: JUNE 21 – JUNE 28

The top four organizations to raise the most online this week each will each win $500.

BONUS CHALLENGE #6: JUNE 28 – JULY 6

Raise at least $1,500 online this week for a chance to win $1,500.

Quit Barking and Sign Me Up!

The Dogs on Deployment Page fundraising page through which donations can be made is:

http://bit.ly/dod-vcc4

Stay tuned — DoD will post updates when the challenge gets underway.

 

Pet Chit Used to Treat Canine Parvovirus in one Military Family Dog: What This Medical Condition Is, and Meeting Maximus, The Pup Who Survived Parvo to Soldier On

Understanding Canine Parvovirus, Its Symptoms, and Preventing This Illness

Joshua Morris, United States Marine Corps and his wife, Chelsea adopted an adorable puppy named Maximus December, 2015.

Maximus, cured from canine parvovirus in January, 2016 thanks to the DoD Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program.
Maximus, cured from canine parvovirus in January, 2016 thanks to the DoD Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program.

What is Parvo?

Canine parvovirus type 2, referred to commonly as Parvo, is a contagious virus that can be life threatening in dogs. Parvo affects their intestinal tract and white blood cells. When puppies in particular are diagnosed with Parvo, the virus damages the heart muscle and can cause a debilitating cardiac problem. Parvo can be spread by any person, animal or object that has had either direct or indirect contact with an infected dog’s feces.

What Are the Symptoms of Parvo and Who Gets It?

Symptoms of Canine parvovirus include:

  • lethargy
  • severe vomiting
  • loss of appetite and
  • bloody, foul-smelling diarrhea that when left untreated can lead to severe dehydration.

Any or all of these factors together can possibly lead to shock, or death. Puppies younger than four months old are usually more susceptible to Parvo but dogs young and old alike who are not vaccinated against this illness are at risk. Parvo may infect other animals but people won’t get sick from it.

Maximus’ new owners, the Morris family, recognized within just days of adopting their puppy from the local humane society that something was very wrong. Maximus was lethargic, suffering from both diarrhea and vomiting and clearly not well.  Fearing that these symptoms might in fact be signs of Parvo, and knowing that Joshua Morris was committed to a PCS soon, the family immediately took their puppy to a veterinary clinic, where their suspicions over Parvo were sadly confirmed.

Treating Parvo

Treatment for Parvo is not 100% successful and is very costly. Affected dogs, like Maximus, typically are hospitalized for several days. There is no cure-all drug treatment therapy for Parvo; instead, dogs receive intensive care consisting of antibiotics, anti-vomiting medications and extensive intravenous fluids to bolster their immune system and regain strength.

Given the nearly prohibitive cost of treating Maximus’ illness, the Morris family called the humane society where they originally adopted the dog and discussed the problem. Fortunately, Brianne Youngberg of the Yuma Humane Society, a longtime supporter of Dogs on Deployment, and luckily, the representative who spoke with them over the phone, notified the Morris family about Dogs on Deployment and the organization’s ability to help active duty military members with their pets in the form of “pet chits” ” through our Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program. More on that later!

Preventing Parvo in the First Place

Simple vaccinations prevent Parvo from ever being a problem. Make sure your dog is up to date on vaccinations since they will protect her or him from a great number of illnesses and potentially make the difference between life and death. Discuss a proper vaccination schedule for your dog with a licensed veterinarian.

Remember earlier in Max’s story, we noted that even objects that come into contact with an infected dog’s feces can spread the Parvo virus. This potentially could mean:

  • dog toys, pool toys
  • food and water dishes and bowls
  • baskets, bedding, kennels and crates
  • dog collars, leashes, clothing, etc.

Consider everything that your dog can get into in and around the home and yard. If you don’t properly clean and disinfect these things, Parvo could potentially remain present on surfaces and in the environment for months. In some cases, you may want to consider throwing away disposable items altogether and starting fresh.

After your dog is free of infection, sanitize and clean your home and surroundings as best as possible. No sanitation method is fool proof against Parvo but some solution of bleach and water should help. Consult with your veterinary provider for recommendations. Remember too, that prompt and proper disposal of feces is critical to limit the spread of Parvo. When outdoors with an untrained or rambunctious puppy, be certain when he or she tries to greet another dog that you avoid any contact with that dog’s feces.

RIP Mahina Baclig

In some cases, Parvo is deadly. This was the unfortunate truth for a seven-week old pup named Mahina, adopted by Ben and Stephani Baclig. Benedict Baclig is a member of the United States Marine Corps. After excessive vomiting and displaying other worrisome symptoms, little Mahina was brought to the vet for emergency care where they confirmed that she had the Parvo virus. The Baclig family reached out to Dogs on Defense for a Pet Chit.

Despite intensive treatments and everyone’s best efforts, the dog passed away after three days. There is no question that Parvo is a serious disease worthy of attention. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the Baclig family.

Patient Follow Up for Maximus

Dogs on Deployment granted an award to help pay for Max’s treatment; we are happy to now report that Maximus is better and doing very well!

Maximus, cured from Parvo, and acting like himself again!
Maximus, cured from Parvo, and acting like himself again!

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We talked with the Morris family about their difficult ordeal.

How is Maximus feeling these days?

Maximus is doing amazing! He’s been Parvo free for four months now and has just been the happiest and most energetic puppy. To our knowledge, there are no long term effects from the Parvo virus.

Was there anything that could have done been done differently to avoid Maximus getting Parvo in the first place?

No, not to our knowledge. Just as with any puppy, we were informed of his risk when we adopted him although Maximus had yet to show any signs of the disease. Unfortunately, Parvo can take a few weeks to kick in during which time dogs are asymptomatic.

Our advice is that owners should be health conscious and careful with their puppies when taking them to dog parks at such a young age. Without all necessary preventive shots pups are at risk of becoming infected with a number of diseases. Familiarize yourself with Parvo and be aware of what to look for. We got lucky and were able to catch it early enough so that we could help prevent Maximus’ dehydration and demise.

What lessons did you both learn from this experience?

The biggest lesson we learned was the importance of taking action quickly once Maximus started acting abnormally. We recognized that vomiting and diarrhea together with refusal to eat or drink any liquid was disastrous. At first we went and bought clear Pedialyte and started using a syringe to force it down his throat. Desperate to help, we then mashed up wet dog food with some water and tried to syringe-feed him that combination. Our next decision was to get Maximus to the vet ASAP.

Another very important lesson is that when you live in a warm weather climate year round the Parvo virus doesn’t have time to die off.  We would just tell people to be aware of this risk when adopting puppies from a shelter or pound in a warm weather climate. But this experience certainly has not deterred us from adopting again. We couldn’t imagine a world without the Yuma Humane Society!

Anything else to add?

Thank y’all so much! This was a great help. My wife Chelsea and I want to express our appreciation for the help that was provided. This has truly been a blessing, and we remain grateful for the efforts of Dogs on Deployment and its Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program.

Good boy, Maximus, good boy!
Good boy, Maximus, good boy!

The Importance of Charitable Donations to the DoD Pet Chit Program & How to Get Help When You’re in Need

Thanks to voluntary donations, the Dogs on Defense Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program has provided over $200K since 2011. The DoD funds its’ Pet Chit Program by using a portion of donations for qualifying military members for help with pet care during times of need.

A Pet Chit Award may be given pre-deployment, or in a time of emergency such as an unexpected illness or injury, 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 Pet Chit 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. You’ll be helping military pets like Banjo receive the necessary care they need.

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.

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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.
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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

 

Here She Is: Introducing Belle T634, 2016 Military Pet of the Year Contest Winner and DoD Mascot

It is with great happiness and pride that Dogs on Deployment announces its winner of the 2016 Military Pet of the Year (MPOTY) Contest, and DoD Mascot, Belle T634!

Belle T634 - Photo by Jessica Wettstein (15)
Belle is a beautiful, five-year-old Labrador Retriever.   Photo Courtesy of Jessica Wettstein      

 

 

 

No Ordinary Circumstances, One Extraordinary Dog

Belle was recently retired from the United States Marine Corps after four years of honorable service and one combat deployment to Afghanistan, where she served as an IDD (IED Detection Dog), commonly referred to as MWD (Military Working Dog), and honorably earned the rank of Staff Sergeant. She and her handler, Sgt. Sam Wettstein, United States Marine Corps, trained together for a year and served together for seven months overseas, assisting in the location and identification of improvised explosive devices, or bombs, in Afghanistan.

Belle was trained to forge ahead of her fellow marines and smell out bombs before they detonated; Sam was trained to sense and understand her reactions. Day in and day out, it was grueling for Sam and his fellow Marines as they worked and lived together in combat. Belle brought a sense of comfort and ease with her presence, boosting morale among the unit. “She helped a lot. It helped me to focus on Belle and her well-being,” recalls Sgt. Wettstein. One day was particularly physically and emotionally draining on them both, and after he and Belle returned to camp, Sam passed out on his cot. As the night grew darker, the temperature dropped to seven degrees and Belle crawled into his sleeping bag to keep them both warm. They awoke to find the dog’s water had frozen over in her water bowl. But the duo had managed to stay warm through the night because they had each other. The strong sense of trust and bond between them was undeniable, and they became inseparable.

Sgt. Sam Wettstein, with Belle T634. Photo Courtesy of Jessica Wettstein

Parting and then Reuniting, Thanks to Mission K9 Rescue

Coming home from Afghanistan and having to be separated was very tough on both of them. Finding out that Belle had been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), however, and that she was unable to work with other handlers opened up an opportunity for Sam to adopt Belle. He submitted numerous applications and called dozens of people in hopes of finding someone to help the battle buddies reunite. Fortunately, Mission K9 Rescue stepped in to answer the call, and began the process of reuniting the two veterans. Belle T634 was retired from the USMC after four years of honorable service.

Mission K9 Rescue works “To Rescue, Reunite, Re-Home, Rehabilitate and Repair any retired working dog that has served mankind in some capacity.” Mission K9 Rescue understands that indescribable bond between those four-legged heroes and their handlers. “Not only do our military members experience PTSD, but many of our MWDs do as well. Most often their handlers are the ones that know them best,” notes a spokesperson for the group.

Not all dogs are as lucky as Belle and get to come home to a loving family. It is rumored that Military Working Dogs’ futures are uncertain after their contracts expire. Going forward, Belle will work with Dogs on Deployment to support other IDDs and MWDs, campaigning for the safe return of all heroes, canine or human, and the reunion between handler and canine.

As the 2016 Military Pet of the Year and DoD Mascot, Belle will work with Dogs on Deployment to help advocate for other MWDs.‪ Here, she enjoys family time with the Wettstein family, including Sgt. Wettstein and his wife, Jessica. Photo Courtesy of Jessica Wettstein

 

In addition, Belle T634 will enter to win the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards, http://herodogawards.org/ where Dogs on Deployment is listed as a charity partner under the Military Dog category. Belle asks that starting March 23rd at 12pm PST, you cast your vote in support of her, and Dogs on Deployment. The winning dog will receive $5,000 for their charity partner!

Sgt. Sam Wettstein, USMC, and Wife, Jessica Talk About Belle Winning the 2016 Military Pet of the Year (MPOTY) Contest and Serving as a DoD Mascot

We asked this terrific family a few things about their feelings now and this new, amazing opportunity for Belle. Here’s what they graciously shared with us.

The Wettstein Family feels very grateful to have won the distinction of DoD Military Pet of the Year and Mascot. “This is such a great opportunity for Belle to share her story and to gain attention for Dogs on Deployment and all the amazing things they do for our military members and their pets, as well as to educate others about Military Working Dogs and their bond with their handlers. We are also very excited to win! We nervously awaited to see who had won the MPOTY competition, and actually found out when friends and family started calling to congratulate Belle. Our dog is looking forward to being showered with all the amazing and thoughtful gifts donated from sponsors across the country.”

Dogs on Deployment wondered why they think Belle won the competition. Jessica says, “I think Belle won because she has the ability to charm her way into anyone’s heart through her sweet demeanor, and because of her bravery and selflessness, demonstrated through her service to this country. She is such a beautiful lab with a story to tell and share, and a mission she and we – her fur parents – feel strongly about. It’s truly a blessing that she was able to be reunited with her former handler (Sam), and that we were able to adopt her into our family. But sadly, there are many military dogs out there just like her who get lost in the red tape and grey areas, and who aren’t able to be reunited with their handlers. These dogs aren’t just tools, they are battle buddies who share an inseparable, indescribable bond with their handlers.”

Belle T634, enjoying retirement. Photo Courtesy of Jessica Wettstein

 

There’s lots to look forward to now with Belle as the MPOTY 2016 and DoD Mascot. “We look forward to the wonderful opportunities that this next year holds,” said the Wettsteins. We are so excited to be a part of the Dogs on Deployment family and share Belle’s story, and to hopefully help MWDs and CWDs like her be reunited with their handlers. “

Sgt. Wettstein and wife, Jessica, along with Belle in her new role, can promote important causes now.

They told us, “back in 2014 Belle T634 was retired from the USMC after four years of honorable service, and that was when we were able to adopt her and reunite her with me Sam. This was only possible thanks to Mission K9 Rescue. They are such an amazing non-profit that works “To Rescue, Reunite, Re-Home, Rehabilitate and Repair any retired working dog that has served mankind in some capacity.” Mission K9 Rescue personally went and picked Belle up in North Carolina, then flew with her in the cabin across the United States (to comfort her PTSD in moving vehicles) where they personally handed her leash to Sam. They are so educated and passionate about these working dogs and make huge differences in the lives of many four-legged heroes every day. We are delighted to have a platform to be able to share the important news of this organization, and to hopefully help educate others about it!”