Tag Archives: Military Family


SUMMER ROUND UP II – Reunions, Virtual 5K & Abigail

 

PCS & Pet Reunion Success Stories / A Virtual 5K Race to Benefit Dogs on Deployment’s Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program. …PLUS AN UPDATE ON “BONNETS FOR ABIGAIL!”

PET CHIT FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

Dogs on Deployment understands that pets do a great deal to enhance and complete our lives in numerous ways. We aim 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.

Pet Chit Success Stories Keep Military Members & Pets Together

“Captain Jones”

“Captain” Jones, at your service.

Caitlin Jones, an E-3 in the US Marine Corps, served and lived with her family in Okinawa, Japan. They have enjoyed the love and company of their Great Dane, “Captain,” since he was a puppy. “He is a huge part of our family, no pun intended,” said Caitlin. The Jones family was expecting their next PCS in 2018, but when Caitlain’s spouse needed to be medically discharged from service, they were left financially unprepared for the cost of suddenly flying Captain back to the United States as unaccompanied cargo. A Pet Chit was granted to the Jones family to help with expenses.

 

After Captain safely returned to his family, Caitlin said, “thank you Dogs on Deployment – we appreciate your consideration and help with Captain’s flight!”

 

 

 “Smeagles” Scherrer

After seven years of service in Okinawa, Japan, Joshua Scherrer, E-6, US Coast Guard, received orders to PCS to Frederick, Maryland this summer. Josh and his wife prepared to travel back to the states with their three rescue pets – a dog and two cats. Their military chartered flight back home allowed for the two cats to return with the Scherrer family, but there was no space left for their dog, “Smeagles.”

The adorable Smeagles is once again a happy camper.

It was a stressful time said Josh, noting that “when we got to Seattle, WA, we had to purchase a car so we could drive cross country for our new PCS. Then I was informed that we would need to purchase new housing appliances upon arrival in Maryland. Almost Home Pet Transportation recommended that I reach out to Dogs on Deployment to apply for help with the cost of Smeagles’ transport.” A Pet Chit was granted to the Scherrer family to help with the expense.

 

After Smeagles was reunited with the rest of the family, Josh told us “all went well with the pets! Thank you to the organization, and we’re happy to be featured in the Dogs on Deployment blog – sharing our story is the least we can do for you all. We are all very grateful!”

 

Stella Thornborrow

“Stella!” How cute is she?!

Alexander Thornborrow, E-4, US Army, received orders to PCS to Germany, and with his wife, Kelly, planned to bring their rescue dog, Stella with them. Said Alex previously, “Stella has been through a lot, and is a huge member of our family. But my wife’s student loans and other expenses made the cost of shipping our dog a hardship.” The Thornborrow family applied for financial assistance and were granted a Pet Chit.

Stella finally arrives in Germany to reunite with dad, Alex.

 

Kelly Thornborrow told Dogs on Deployment, “Stella made it to Germany despite some paperwork confusion. She was happily reunited with us and has settled into life in Germany. We are so grateful for the Pet Chit, it helped us all begin our new life here together as a family! Being with our dog again has made our transition in a new country so much easier – we will always hold a special place in our hearts for Dogs on Deployment. Thanks again!!”

 

Willow Mata

Sunnie Mata, E-5, US Air Force, received orders to PCS to Germany, and was looking forward to making the move with her son and their dog, Willow. In preparation for their new life, Sunnie began saving all she could in the hopes of buying a house off base with a big yard for Willow.

 

The Mata Family

 

“Willow is not just a dog, she is a family member,” said Sunnie. “I am a single parent to a five-year old boy, and we searched for the perfect dog to join our family. When we first saw Willow, it was instant love – she fits in so well with us!”

 

 

 

Best buddies.

 

Who is photo-bombing who in this picture?

Willow’s size exceeded the weight limit for the military flight to Germany, so the Mata family had to make other arrangements. Dogs on Deployment granted Sunnie a Pet Chit so that Willow could join them in Germany and keep a smile on her son’s face. Afterwards, Sunnie told Dogs on Deployment, “Everything is going as planned so far. We couldn’t have done it without your help, and are so grateful. Thank you!”

 

Dogs on Deployment’s First Annual 5K Pet & Family Trot

Registration has begun for Dogs on Deployment’s First Annual Pet and Family Trot (PFT), a “virtual race” that will benefit our non-profit organization’s critical mission of providing a robust network for military members to find volunteers willing to care for their pets while they’re away serving our country. Register now, and run through August 31st to participate!

A virtual race is a race that can be ran at any location. You can walk, use the treadmill, run outside or participate in another race. You can run your race at your pace wherever you like, however you’d like.

Some FAQs About the First Annual (PFT)

How does a virtual race work? A virtual race can be done at any venue that you wish. You can walk, jog, skip or run the distance of your choice. You can complete your race at the gym on a treadmill, a practice run in town, a stroll in the park, or another local racing event. The Dogs on Deployment PFT believes in the honor system so no proof is required for your race, but it would be awesome if you could upload pictures and tell us about your experience on our Facebook page. All race participants, human and canine, will be about to download a race bib and will be mailed a finisher’s medal.

Why should I do a virtual race? The short answer would be because they are cool! If you need more convincing, the top 3 reasons would include:

  • The chance to add a really cool medal to your collection (and a really cool collar charm for your pup!).
  • Complete control over your schedule. Complete the race on your own time, at your own venue. No travel expenses, no hassle with parking, no waking up early (unless you want to!).
  • An opportunity to support a great cause. Proceeds from the 5K will benefit Dogs on Deployment’s Pet Chit Financial Assistant Program. These Pet Chits help to provide financial assistance to qualifying military members for help with pet care during times of need. It is no surprise that a military lifestyle can be challenging on an individual and family, and an unexpected pet expense may cause undue stress before an upcoming service commitment.

 

 

Who can participate? Everybody and anybody! There is no age limit and there are no restrictions. So run, jog, walk, crawl, run alone, run in a group, run with your pet, bike, hike, it doesn’t matter. Just get out there and get moving!

Can I complete the race with a group? Of course! You can register for the 5k as an individual or as part of a team!

Do the medals come with a ribbon? Yes! Every medal will come with a ribbon!🏅

When you register yourself and your pet for the trot/race you will both receive a finisher’s medal. Your dog can proudly wear the pet medallion on their collar.

When will my medal ship? Medals will be ready to ship on August 23rd, so they will come your way once you have completed the PFT! We will keep you posted if they will ship any sooner (fingers and paws crossed).

We can’t wait to see you hit the pavement! Lace up your 👟, grab your 🐕 leash and let’s go!🐾 Still have questions? Email us today at run@dogsondeployment.org and we will answer any questions you have.

 

Bonnets for Abigail Updates

“Bonnets for Abigail” supports the mission of Dogs on Deployment. (See link to her story by clicking here.) We told you in a recent blog post of sweet Abigail, a dog abused and left for dead, who was rescued, rehabilitated and who went on to be an international spokes-dog, helping raise awareness to end dog fighting. Abigail is a beacon of hope, and love.

 

Bonnets, bonnets. bonnets!

Abigail is nominated for the 2017 American Humane’s Emerging Hero Dog Award, and has selected Dogs on Deployment as her charity partner. She already won Round One of the competition – congratulations Abby! As a result, “Bonnets for Abigail” donated $2500.00 to Dogs on Deployment. If Abigail wins top honors and takes home the title of 2017 American Hero Dog, an additional $5,000 will be awarded to Dogs on Deployment – everybody wins!!

VOTE – VOTE – VOTE DAILY!

We need your daily votes to show your support for Abigail. Click here once every day http://herodogawards.org/dog/abigail/ now through August 30, and vote for Abigail as top dog. Help Dogs on Deployment and help Abigail to be an ambassador, teacher and hero dog for all!

 

Now life is just a walk in the park for Abigail!

Abigail has Found Fur-Ever Love!

Last but not least, we happily report that Abigail has been adopted into her fur-ever home. She recently joined her mother, father and fur-sister (also a rescued pit-mix) in their digs, and everyone has been enjoying the Florida sunshine, and one another.

The adventures of “Bonnets for Abigail” can be seen on Facebook every day (click here to check it out), where sweet Abigail now has a loyal following of about 19,000 followers. That’s one popular pooch!

Good luck Abigail – we’ll see you and your bonnets on the red carpet for the awards show!!

 

Summer Round Up: Pet Boarding, PCS & Pet Reunion Success

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People Helping One Another, One Paw at a Time

Everyone at Dogs on Deployment voluntarily gives of their time and talents as a way of saying “thank you” to the many U.S. military service men and women who temporarily part with their pets when duty calls.

Our nationwide network of volunteers includes pet boarders and foster pet parents whose participation is critical to Dogs on Deployment’s success. This community of people continues to grow and open their homes and hearts to temporarily care for pets – like dogs, cats, rabbits, etc. The result is peace of mind for the military pet owner. We are grateful to them all, and always happy to share good news and success stories when they are brought to our attention!

Pet Boarding: Leppla Family Saves the Day for a Very Grateful Mark Howard

The care and cooperation of boarders Kevin and Margaret Leppla left Mark Howards very grateful. He wanted to recognize and thank them publicly. The Leppla family recently cared for both of Mark’s dogs, one being a Labrador Retriever and the other, a Jack Russell Terrier.

 

DoD volunteer boarder, Kevin Leppla relaxes with Capone, a 2 ½-year-old, male Jack Russell Terrier, and Nip, a 2 ½-year-old, female Labrador Retriever.

Mark Howard, of the U.S. Army, told Dogs on Deployment, “initially, I had loads of inquiries for my Lab, but only three for my Jack Russell because of the patience and care it can sometimes take to look after this high-energy breed. This was my first time using the organization and I was a little hesitant, especially since I was unable to properly meet with the boarders.” Potential Dogs on Deployment boarders and their pets usually meet face-to-face with military members and their pets before the deal is sealed. Sometimes, like in Mark’s case, time constraints or other deployment factors get in the way of “proper” introductions.

Since Mark was unable to go through the typical interviews before boarding his dogs, he said, “I was a little nervous and worried about how both dogs would be, but agreed to it. “As it turns out, Kevin and Margaret Leppla, from Yelm, Washington stepped up, and were both extremely amazing taking care of both of dogs while I was deployed! They even included them in family reunions and activities. I believe the Leppla family went above and beyond, treating my dogs as if they were their own, and feel they deserve to be recognized.”

 

Capone and Nip explore, lakeside with Kevin.

“It was a perfect match from the beginning,” said Mark. While boarding with the Leppla family on a small farm, Mark’s dogs Capone and Nip got to enjoy the beautiful property, with lots of room and space to run and play. “Kevin and Margaret were wonderful. They treated my dogs like family and it shows. The dogs have gone along on family BBQ outings in the wood lines, lakes…, just about anywhere you could think of. And they always kept me informed on everything going on, sending pictures and videos all the time!”

 

Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program – Less Stress for PCS

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.

“Thank you so much,” said Jonathan Kamer, U.S.M.C., E-5, and wife Mae, after they were reunited with their dogs. Jonathan recently received a 3-year PCS to Okinawa, Japan.

The Kamer family reunites.

“Our two dogs are not just pets, they are our family. We have always committed to staying together, no matter what difficult circumstances we were going through.” That’s why the Kamers were so disappointed when financial constraints initially kept them separated from their dogs. Dogs Chevy and Saver were only temporarily able to stay with family in the U.S., and that’s when Jonathan reached out to the Dogs on Deployment Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program. He and his wife patiently waited for a Pet Chit to be granted, but every day it became a little more heartbreaking while they watched other families enjoying their own dogs. “It was unimaginable to think we could be apart from our dogs for three years,” said Jonathan. “You never know what could happen within that period.”

The adorable Chevy and Saver Kamer.

The Kamers’ prayers were answered when they were granted a Pet Chit for $2200. It helped cover transportation expenses for dogs Saver, a male tan boxer, and Chevy, a female boxer-mix to be flown to Okinawa. The dogs arrived safely and the entire Kamer family was reunited.

Jonathan Kamer relaxes with the help of dogs, Saver and Chevy.

 

 

“We feel so blessed by Dogs on Deployment. It is a wonderful and helpful organization that has enabled us all to be together as a family once again,” added Jonathan. “Thank you so much!”

 

 

 

 

 

Recent Reunions

While voluntarily serving a one-year tour in South Korea without his family, Steve Zavala, U.S. Army, E-6 of Alaska, adopted a cat from the on-base pet shelter. He eventually learned he and his family would have to PCS to England, and wanted to keep his family and his newest companion Jack the cat all together. The Zavala family received a Pet Chit to help transport Jack, and are extremely grateful.

Jack cuddles with his big brother and sister from the Zavala family.

 

 

Richard Hager III, U.S.M.C., E-5 of North Carolina, received PCS to Japan. He and his wife and children consider their pets a part of the family. “Our dogs, Maggie and Marley are very good with our children and have helped them grow into the pet lovers that they are today,” said Richard. “The dogs have been in our family for the past 9 and 7 years respectively.”

The family received a Pet Chit to help transport the dogs.

The Hager family baby shown sharing a special moment with Maggie the dog.

 

 

Joshua Broadie, U.S.A.F., E-4 of Oklahoma, received PCS to Germany. He and his wife previously got an emotional support dog for their 7-year-old daughter to help with her panic attacks. Space limitations originally prohibited the dog from traveling overseas to be with his family. Said Joshua, “Our dog is important to my daughter and to us. I could not and would not leave her behind.”

The family was grateful to Dogs on Deployment when they received a Pet Chit to help transport the dog for a family reunion.

Shown here is the Broadie’s daughter, together again with her therapy dog, Ruder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grayson Bright, U.S.C.G, E-5 of Kentucky, previously received PCS to Japan and at first, left his cat, Marshmallow in the loving care of temporary DoD boarder, Mary Mortenson. After patiently waiting, Grayson will soon be happily reunited with his cat, since he received a Pet Chit to help transport her overseas.

This stunning cat, Marshmallow will soon be reunited with owner, Grayson Bright.

 

Pet Chits Can Help with Emergency Veterinary Treatment & Care

Dogs on Deployment understands the financial burden of pet care can take a large financial toll on a military family when other unexpected life events arise. Pet Chits are also granted to military members to help offset the costs associated with emergency or routine veterinary pet care, including spay and neuter, which Dogs on Deployment is a strong advocate of.

 

Mark Daniels, U.S.M.C. E-6, of CA and his wife Jessica received financial assistance for the spay of their beautiful kitty Phasma, who was helped through the Pet Chit program. They were very thankful to Dogs on Deployment!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Hattan, U.S. Army E-6, of LA told us that his dog, sweet Hazel “has become family to me!” He adopted her after she was abandoned by her owners, and only wants to do the right thing by her. Robert received financial assistance to help with costs of Hazel’s vaccinations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael Craddock, U.S.M.C. E-5, of CA and his family recognize the importance of spaying and neutering pets. “We want to be responsible pet owners and take care of Jaxson’s neutering so he isn’t able to procreate with any of the nearby dogs.”

 

Dogs on Deployment lent a hand/paw with the costs of the dog’s procedure. Adorable Jaxson smiled for the camera after finding out he would benefit from the Pet Chit program.

 

 

 

 

Dogs on Deployment 2017 MPOTY Winner is Tanzie!

Dogs on Deployment is excited and proud to announce that our 2017 Military Pet of the Year and Mascot is Tanzie!

TANZIE, the Dogs on Deployment mascot and winner of our 2017 MPOTY Contest. All photos courtesy Katie Ward.

Tanzie will Excitedly Represent Dogs on Deployment as the Mascot, and Winner of our 2017 Military Pet of the Year Contest

Dogs on Deployment Makes it Official:  2017 MPOTY Winner is Tanzie!

Each year Dogs on Deployment holds a contest in search of one very special dog to serve as our mascot and be the face of the organization. We agree that every dog is special. But some dogs, like Tanzie, uniquely embody all the characteristics we hold dear in a pet, and through their circumstances, teach us important, compelling lessons. In this case, Tanzie and her owners share the dog’s incredible journey, and now help raise awareness as together they advocate for animal rescue.

Who’s That Girl?

Tanzie began her life as a stray, known only as “Tag 384,” on the war-torn streets of Sarajevo, the capital of what is now referred to as the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was there in Sarajevo, where Katie Gar Ward, Technical Sergeant, United States Air Force, first saw the dog outside the installation where she was working.

Katie Ward, Technical Sergeant, USAF, befriends a dog in Sarajevo, known then only as “puppy-girl.”

Katie was able identify to this dog as one of many local strays because of the tag marking on its ear. Animals were periodically brought in by the Bosnian authorities to be given a rabies vaccine, spayed/neutered, tagged, documented, and returned to the streets. It was the best outcome many of them could hope for. Most of the stray animal population fared worse, roaming hungry, ignored, and often abused.

Whenever she could, Katie soon began to look for “puppy girl,” as she affectionately nicknamed her, and when the dog surfaced, would reward her little furry friend with belly rubs, playtime, food, treats, and attention that the homeless dog so desired. Katie, who already had two dogs back in the States with husband Walker, admitted to falling in love with this blond, brindle, beautiful mixed-breed puppy, and knew she had to do more.

Tanzie herself said, “Little did I know, I would eventually have a home with her, my daddy, and my furry brother and sister in the USA!”

Katie & Walker Ward, President and Vice President of “The Tanzie Project,” pose with their beloved fur-kids.

After careful consideration and deliberation, the Wards decided originally to bring “Tanzie” to the United States to find a home for her. But Katie and husband, Walker Ward have admitted, “deep down, we knew it was going to be with us.” Katie had to track down which veterinarian had tagged the dog and then obtain her vital paperwork. The vets in Bosnia removed the tag on Tanzie’s ear a few days before she flew home to begin her new life in America, back on January 12, 2015. While neither Katie nor the original vet could be sure, it’s believed that Tanzie was born early, 2014; they estimate her age as of early 2017 to be about three years old.

Tanzie has brought her family so much love and joy.

Home, Sweet Home

Little did Tanzie know what awaited her, and little did she know what influence she and her adoptive pet parents, the Wards would soon yield. Once she arrived in the United States, Tanzie was warmly welcomed into her new household by her new pack mates and “siblings,” brother Benji, now 13 years old, and sister, Bella, six.

Tanzie had to adjust to being in a household with her siblings all day while her parents were at work. Katie, in fact, remained in Sarajevo for weeks finishing an assignment. Despite some destructive episodes – which included digging endless holes in the yard and all around the property – Tanzie soon settled in and relished her new forever home, which had to be a welcome relief. Katie thinks that Tanzie fell into domestic bliss and began to recognize her place in the family, in part from watching Benji and Bella.

It was quite easy for Benji and Bella to fall in love with Tanzie.

The gang gets along great!
They are now the best of friends!

The Quest to Help Others: The Tanzie Project is Born

While she was still in Sarajevo, getting the wheels in motion to somehow bring Tanzie to the U.S., Katie said, “I reached out to many, many organizations to see if they would help me find the means to bring even more dogs back from Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

One such organization was The Puppy Rescue Mission, (http://www.puppyrescuemission.com/) a U.S-based animal welfare group, whom Katie described as her “shot-in-the-dark.” Working together, they successfully rescued and sent nine Bosnian street dogs to the States, where all were eventually adopted in their forever homes.

Building upon their successful efforts for Tanzie and a few of the other dogs, the Wards were determined to help more dogs, and did just that. Initially, they began a Facebook page to raise funds to help buy food for Bosnia’s strays. Soon, with some encouragement from their new friends at The Puppy Rescue Mission, the Wards said, they “took a leap of faith and decided to make their efforts official,” thereby turning their passion into purpose and establishing a 501c3 non-profit organization. The Tanzie Project was born, with the goal of finding homes for as many forgotten, mistreated street dogs as possible.

Good Dog, Good Deeds

We caught up with the beautiful Tanzie herself, who will have a busy year ahead of her as the ambassador for Dogs on Deployment!

Tanzie told us, “I really appreciate getting to share how “pawsitively” happy I am to be American!”

Surf’s up!!!

Tanzie also said, “in my first year in the USA, I swam in the ocean, climbed a mountain, rode in an elevator (wow, THAT was weird!!), went on a camping trip, rode on a boat (that was my favorite), and went wine tasting, to mention a few of my most favorite “firsts!

Thank you Dogs on Deployment, for the opportunity to be your 2017 Military Pet of the Year!!! And thanks to all the ‘pawesome’ people who voted for me and believed in my cause…I ‘pawmise’ I won’t let you down!!

Dogs on Deployment gives Tanzie “four-paws-up!” We know she will spread cheer and good will wherever she represents us this year. Our gratitude and congratulations to Katie and Walker Ward, Benji, Bella, and most of all, Tanzie.

For details on The Tanzie Project, Tanzie’s American Journey “from street, to chic,” and more information on the efforts of the Ward family to aid dogs known as Bosnia’s strays, please visit http://www.thetanzieproject.org/.

 

Dogs on Deployment Cheers Belle T634

 

Military Pet of the Year 2016 Recipient Marches On

Every dog has his or her day, and in our case, every dog has its year!

Dogs on Deployment cheers on as Military Pet of The Year 2016 Recipient Belle T634 and proud owners, Sam and Jessica Wettstein, step aside to make way for the soon to be announced winner of the MPOTY 2017 contest.

It has been a banner year for the beloved Belle, our current Dogs on Deployment MPOTY 2016 and mascot. She is shown here with Sgt. Sam Wettstein.

 

Well Wishes and Questions with Sam and Jessica Wettstein, Belle’s Family

Dogs on Deployment bids a fond farewell to Military Pet of The Year 2016 Recipient Belle T634, and her proud owners, Sam and Jessica Wettstein. Sam serves as Sgt., USMC. Belle originally served as a military work dog for her handler, Sgt. Wettstein. The duo trained together for a year and served together in the USMC for seven months overseas.

Sam and Jessica Wettstein shared their thoughts on what life was like after Belle was named MPOTY 2016.

 

DOGS ON DEPLOYMENT: 

What was your favorite thing about Belle being named MPOTY 2016?

“We loved the opportunities Dogs on Deployment gave us to share Belle and Sam’s story. Even though she is now retired, Belle had a new purpose and was still able to help others by sharing her story.

We also loved being welcomed into a new family — the Dogs on Deployment family. We made friends all over the country that we now have for life!

Belle would like to add that one of her favorite things was all the gifts she received from her sponsors! There were treats, paintings, a new custom bed, new collars, a cuddle clone, and so much more. The outpouring of love was overwhelming and Belle wants us to say thank you on her behalf!”

 

DOGS ON DEPLOYMENT: 

During Belle’s reign as MPOTY 2016, you all had a chance to travel, acting as “Good Will Ambassadors” for DoD. Were there any surprises?

“We traveled the United States, making it a point to tell everyone about the mission of Dogs on Deployment. It surprised us greatly that many people still hadn’t heard about this amazing program.

We enjoyed educating others on the important “No Dog Left Behind” DoD philosophy, and demonstrating how that relates to military family pets, and our family — specifically, we spoke on the unification of retired working dogs and their handlers.

On one trip to Colorado, Jessica was shopping in Denver and she happened upon a “Dog Is Good” display in a local pet boutique. Sure enough, there front and center, was the specially designed shirt inspired by Belle! You should have seen the surprise on her face and the excitement getting to share the story about it with the storeowners and shoppers!”

 

DOGS ON DEPLOYMENT: 

The Military Pet of the Year program enables Dogs on Deployment to raise awareness for responsible pet ownership.  What did you learn and share about responsible pet ownership?

“It’s disheartening to learn how many pets are re-homed every year due to military deployments, training and moves. Dogs on Deployment is an amazing non-profit, but is only effective if others know about it and utilize it! So, it’s about getting the word out there.

Belle loved utilizing social media to share her day to day life, but she also used her platform to raise awareness that no matter what, no dog (or pet) should be left behind!

Having such a large platform to raise awareness about Mission K9 Rescue was such a blessing. Their assistance in reuniting Belle and Sam after their combined service in Iraq, has forever changed our lives. Since Belle gained some attention serving as MPOTY 2016, Sam was presented with the opportunity to volunteer and train service dogs with Labs for Liberty. This led to his work creating a program at his university, uniting Labs for Liberty and the University, and even a featured article in the Alumni Magazine. One small title of MPOTY has had such a large domino effect on our family, changing our lives for the better, and hopefully impacting others as well.”

 

DOGS ON DEPLOYMENT: 

Were there any particular people / events that stood out, and why?

“Yes – one event that stood out to us was attending the Hero Dog Awards ceremony in Beverly Hills this past summer. We can’t express enough what an amazing opportunity that was to have been nominated in the top three of the military dog category out of all the nominees across the country. Even though Belle didn’t win, it was so much fun to gather with all our DoD friends at the event, to meet such other incredible dogs, hear others stories, and to share ours.

Throughout 2016, we worked with many outstanding volunteers, including DoD -founders, Shawn and Alicia Johnson. To finally put faces to names was something we never thought was possible! Belle loved being loved by everyone, and immensely enjoyed her photo shoot for “Dog is Good” for her Belle-inspired shirt.

Most especially, Belle enjoyed dancing the night away with daddy, Sam at the Hero Dog Awards, dressed in her red-carpet attire!”

 

Belle left her fatigues behind. She effortlessly handled the pupp – arazzi with grace and dignity as MPOTY 2016 for Dogs on Deployment.

 

DOGS ON DEPLOYMENT: 

What advice would you have for the upcoming MPOTY 2017 mascot? 

“Dive right in and enjoy every moment of this experience! It can be slightly scary putting your whole story out there for everyone to see and hear, but know that it’s for a great cause. Share as much good will and news as you can on your social media, and take every opportunity to spread the word about Dogs on Deployment!

We couldn’t have asked for a more amazing year, and are grateful to now have so many wonderful friends!”

 

Help Military Members and Their Pets

Dogs on Deployment is a national non-profit which provides a network for military members to search for volunteers willing to board their pets during their service commitments.

DoD aims to promote responsible, lifelong pet ownership within the military-pet community. One way we spotlight this goal is by hosting our annual Military Pet of the Year competition where our winner will be the Dogs on Deployment Mascot for one year, signifying their military owner’s commitment to a healthy, engaged lifestyle with their pet.

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.”

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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!

IMG_2296

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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