Tag Archives: military pet

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/.


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!








Rocky the Magnificent and Mary: An Update

Dogs on Deployment hopes everyone has been having a safe and enjoyable summer. A while ago in this Military Pet Tails Blog we presented the story of Mary, a United States Army veteran and her dog, Rocky the Magnificent, whom we came to know and love as the dog with “peanut butter eyes.”

Rocky is a rescue dog who picked Mary in August, 2013. They quickly settled into a wonderful life together, full of the rituals that come with responsible dog ownership, and an abundance of unconditional love.

Rocky the dog: A Lover and A Fighter

Pictured above: ROCKY — Both a lover and a fighter!

Mary’s world changed on January 15, 2016, when she first noticed what turned out to be a rock-hard lump in Rocky’s mouth, just under his eye. After numerous tests that were both exhaustive and expensive, Rocky was diagnosed with cancer, namely fibrosarcoma and melanocytoma in the oral cavity. Few things can bring immediate dread to your life the way a cancer diagnosis will. Sadly, current estimates indicate that roughly 6 million dogs (and just as many domestic cats) will be diagnosed with cancer this year alone.

In the weeks that followed the diagnosis, the Pets for Patriots organization, along with Dogs on Deployment, together committed funds towards surgery and the treatment of Rocky’s cancer. This financial assistance was important because it also meant that a United States veteran would not have to — in Mary’s own words — “reach their financial breaking point .”

UPDATE: As of Rocky’s end of July, 2016 veterinary report, his tumor has been seriously reduced. The canine cancer that is left on the dog’s jaw is dead or dying, and he has been cleared for follow up in four months.



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

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

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




No Ordinary Circumstances, One Extraordinary Dog

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

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

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

Parting and then Reuniting, Thanks to Mission K9 Rescue

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Belle T634, enjoying retirement. Photo Courtesy of Jessica Wettstein


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

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

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

Marine’s Dog, Dax, Needs Your Help

In March 2009, Marine Sgt Harry Perkins and his wife, met and fell in love with a one year old Rat Terrier mix, named Dax, at the San Diego Animal Shelter. Not having any “human-children” of their own, the Perkins considered the adoption of an at-risk shelter dog as being an act of love and necessity. They brought him home and were excited to begin their next chapter of their lives with Dax at their side.

However, Dax’s adoption didn’t come without difficulty. Right after adopting Dax, the Perkins found out that Dax had a broken leg, which had healed on its own before his adoption. After diagnosis, it was determined that Dax’s strength and healing had overcome any difficulties, and his leg wouldn’t impede his chance at living a long, happy, and fast life. “[His leg] didn’t slow him down one bit. He is a fast little guy to this day,” says Sgt Perkins.

dax-2The Perkins expected that Dax’s health was in the clear. He quickly became an integral part of their family. Dax was a staple of stability through two deployments to Afghanistan. “Dax was waiting for my return the entire time while keeping my wife company and sane,” Sgt Perkin reflects. His personality flourished; he is known to go to the veterinarian and have his exams done “upside down,” as he is such a goober, he always rolls over on his back for love and attention while getting his vitals taken.

Unfortunately, Dax would become a frequent patient of his veterinarian’s office. One year ago, the Perkins realized Dax was having issues opening and closing his left eye. After being taken to the veterinarian, the family was told that Dax suffered from severe glaucoma, and his eye pressure was dangerously high, with threat of rupture. The family made a quick decision to remove his eye. Now, every night before bed time, Dax gets eye drops in his good, eye, to prevent his right eye from going bad. He always gets a treat after his drops!

Dax received the best care possible after a threatening case of glaucoma.
Dax received the best care possible after a threatening case of glaucoma.

Again, the Perkins were relieved to find Dax receiving a clean bill of health. Then tragedy struck.

On July 10, 2015, Dax was diagnosed with lymphoma. “We were and still are heartbroken; full of what ifs? What next? And how? We don’t want to lose our baby. But we [are] optimistic that he will make a full recovery!” Sgt Perkins says with heartfelt expression. Dax has received an optimistic outlook, if he can get ongoing chemotherapy treatment.

The Perkins family started him on treatment right away, despite uncertainty of payment. They were prepared to do anything necessary to ensure Dax’s health, despite finding out the happy news that they will be expecting their first “human-child” in December. “We will look for options. We will find relief,” Sgt Perkins says determined.

It wasn’t until recently, that the Perkins learned about Dogs on Deployment. Through our Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program, DoD provides financial grants to military families for help with their pet’s care during times of emergency. The bills are expected to range from $8000.00 – $9000.00 for Dax’s total treatment. And while the Perkins are ready to tackle this challenge, they have also asked for help. And we’re prepared to give it to them.

Dogs on Deployment has been successful before in raising funds for military pet diagnosed with cancer. We’re optimistic that we can do it again, with your help.

Dax loves his Marine dad.
Dax loves his Marine dad.

Donate to Dogs on Deployment’s Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program from now until September 1st, and help us in our goal of raising enough funds to help Dax survive, and help the Perkins family by giving them peace of mind. With your help, we can give Dax a chance to meet his new human- brother or sister, and continue to have a long, and happy life with a Marine family who truly sets the example of responsible, lifelong pet ownership.

The Perkins wish to share this message with you: “[If you donate to help our cause,] we would be undoubtedly grateful. There would be no words other than to ‘thank you’ from the bottom of our hearts. We will do anything to pay it forward. Just thank you for helping us take care of our fur baby.”