Tag Archives: Military Family

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.”

1-saban-ben-posey
Kuma the German Shepard is over two years old.
2-kuma_saban
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!

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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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Emergency Pet Boarding: Did you Know?

Every year, disaster strikes various parts of the country. Tornado alley during storm season. Hurricanes along the Eastern Seaboard. And, with weather getting more and more violent and unpredictable, it’s only smart to be prepared.

12065612_866507023418556_1625893803527395919_nOne of the parts of the country often hit hardest with disaster is California. Between earthquakes and wildfires, animals can easily be displaced, due to disaster.

We have written about emergency preparedness before, but did you know that, as a military member, displaced by emergency, you can post your pet for emergency fostering?

Register your pet with Dogs on Deployment, and find a safe place for your pet if you’ve ever been displaced for any reason.

Nila: Another Successful Pet Chit!

IMG_5142 copyFor anyone in the service for any length of time, moving can become second nature. Planning a military move becomes, almost: easy. From scheduling movers, to planning for kids to start school in a new town, even shipping cars, we can handle these major life-events every few years.

However, when orders come down for an overseas move, things can get a little more complicated, especially when pets are involved. Boarding costs, quarantine rules and associated travel expenses can skyrocket.

IMG_5459 copyIt’s unquestionable that our pets are part of our families. No one would argue to leave our son or daughter behind because of quarantine regulations, or how difficult it might be to travel with a baby; so, we jump through the difficult hoops necessary to get our pets with us overseas, just like our children. Just such a complex situation arose for Melanie, Nila’s doggie-mom.

Melanie’s family recently received orders to Okinawa, and as they prepared to move overseas, they discovered that they would be unable to, immediately, take Nila with them. Thankfully, Melanie’s mother was able to temporarily board their pup, while they worked out the paperwork, to get her to Japan, to join the family.

IMG_5456 copyAfter some research, Melanie discovered that this would not be an easy feat; Nila is a special needs dog. She needs seizure medication, which means that someone needs to be with her at all times, ready to administer medication. This means that each step of Nila’s journey would be more expensive; normally, dogs can fly beneath the plane, if temperature permits this safely. Nila’s journey costs were mounting to approximately $1,900.

This is when Melanie reached out to Dogs on Deployment and applied for a Pet Chit. The Pet Chit Program is available to people to help with emergency pet-related expenses, including medical expenses, or situations like Nila’s.
Melanie said, “I couldn’t stop thinking about how confused and sad Nila must have felt that her family left and didn’t take her with them. How do you explain to a dog [that] you aren’t abandoning her; it’s only goodbye for a little while?”

The Pet Chit was the key to getting Nila to Japan. After many months, and some long flights, Nila was going to be back with her family.

“Picking her up from the airport was more exciting than Christmas morning,” said Melanie. “Nila was so happy [that] her whole body was wagging with excitement.”

IMG_5457 copyThis story is brought to you by PetSmart: We are proud to support our veterans and their pets. At PetSmart, we love pets and we believe pets make us better people. PetSmart will be the trusted partner to pet parents and pets in every moment of their lives.

“At PetSmart, we believe in supporting organizations that make communities vibrant and strong” said Jennifer LaPlante, district leader for PetSmart. “We’re proud to partner with  in an effort to enrich the lives of more people through the power of pets.

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Caring for Pets When Spouse is Deployed

Corynn Myers, one of our amazing volunteers who works on Public Affairs, knows how hard it is to suddenly face all the responsibility of managing both family and pets, when a spouse deploys. She says, “After my husband left for what was scheduled to be a 12 month deployment, my dog and two week old looked to me for all their needs. I was overwhelmed and it seemed as if everyday tasks had become impossible.”

Photo Credit: Freedigitalphotos, Marin
Photo Credit: Freedigitalphotos, Marin

Everyday life with a baby became complicated by caring for a pet. “My daughter would fall asleep, and after a struggle to get her to calm down, my black-lab mix would bark at the kids playing outside, then the baby would wake-up and it took every ounce of strength for me to not take my frustration out on my innocent dog. It seemed as if Max had become this high-maintenance thing that was causing more headache than happiness.”

This is not an uncommon problem, and a feeling that Dogs on Deployment hears about all the time. We often get requests from families looking to foster their pets while spouses are deployed, hoping to ease the stress. Corynn says “We got through that first month and things started to get back to normal and he became my go-to cry pillow.”

Here are 5 tips to help manage those stressful times and to start seeing your fur-baby as an asset instead of a burden during deployments. Just remember the following word and you’ll be on your way to a happy pet and a less stressed you: BRAVE – behavior, routine, affection, veterinary care, and exercise.

BEHAVIOR

Understanding your pet’s behavior is an important tool in minimizing stressful situations with your pet. Animals look to their owners for protection and leadership, and in their own way, they communicate feelings of stress. For example, some early indicators of stress for dogs include turning their head away from whatever is bothering them (another dog or person) and holding their ears back. By learning what these cues mean, you can pull your pet out of stressful situations before they escalate. Working with an animal trainer is a good way to learn how to read and react to your pet’s cues.

Some good resources for animal behavior are always ASPCA or the Humane Society.

ROUTINE

Isn’t it strange how, without looking at the clock, the dog knows that it’s about time for your service member to walk through the door? That’s his routine. So, help establish new ones. At first, it can be as simple as making sure your pet gets fed every day; he’ll come to depend on it, and you for it.

Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos, Artur68
Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos, Artur68

Soon, build on that. Perhaps you play fetch each afternoon, or go for a walk every morning before breakfast. Your pets will soon establish new routines with you that will be a calming presence in all of your lives. In general, our bodies and minds crave routine, and your pet is no different.

 AFFECTION

Spend some time every day playing with your pet and showing your pet love and affection. Spending this quality time with your pet will help you bond more with your fur baby and help build the trust between the two of you. Plus, there’s proven benefit for you – studies have shown that petting animals lowers blood pressure!

VETERINARY AND BASIC CARE

Keep your pet healthy by staying up to date on yearly vet visits and meeting basic needs like feeding your animal the proper food, and providing water. Learn what the right amount of food and water is necessary for your pet’s breed and size. Usually, there is information for this based on your pet’s weight on the side of the food packaging, or you can consult your vet with any questions. If you change your pet’s food, be sure to slowly introduce the new food mixed in with the old food, slowly transitioning until you are only using the new food.

Taking preventative steps, such as keeping your pet up to date on shots can help keep your pet healthy and prevent unforeseen veterinary costs. Be sure to keep your pet’s flea, parasite and heartworm prevention (in endemic areas) up to date so that your pet can stay healthy and active while your significant other is deployed. Keep your vet’s information in a central place, like on your fridge, so you have it if your pet needs medical attention. Schedule annual checkups so your vet can assess your pet’s overall health and provide any shots that your pet needs.

EXERCISE

Foxy with Old Man CyrusThe saying goes: a tired dog is a happy dog. Exercise is good for you and for your pets! Exercise helps you strengthen your bond with your pet and helps your pet burn off some mental and physical energy, leaving them content and better prepared to listen and behave. Exercising your pet is a great way to involve other family members, such as children. You can incorporate your pet into family time, and go to local parks or walk around your neighborhood. If you work full time or are pressed for time, consider hiring a person to walk your dog. Bad weather outside? There are plenty of indoor activities for your pet. Examples include hiding treats in your house and having your pet search for them, playing fetch with them, and taking them to dog-centered indoor activities such as doggie day care.

When you feel overwhelmed caring for your pet while your spouse or partner is deployed, remember the motto: BRAVE – behavior, routine, affection, veterinary care, and exercise.

Your pet does not need you to be perfect; all you need to be is present and caring, and your pet will reward you with trust, unconditional love, and comfort.