Tag Archives: Military

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.

GO ROCKY, GO!!

 

Volunteer Spotlight: Amanda

At Dogs on Deployment, the only thing we love as much as animals, is the people who take care of them. That’s why we like to tell you about the volunteers who make us tick! This month, let’s talk about Amanda Beck, our Rhode Island Coordinator since 2014.

amanda dog 3Amanda, is an IT project manager by day, and a bridal consultant by night. But, her passion for both the military and animals is what drives her to volunteer with Dogs on Deployment. Her boyfriend, Josh is in the Massachusetts Army National Guard, both her grandfathers were in the Navy, and she grew up with a lot of military influence in her family. She says she “understands the sacrifices our service members make.”

Additionally, her cousin, Lt Michael Patrick Murphy was killed in action, in 2005. He received the Medal of Honor, posthumously. She says that he was her motivation behind her search for a “worthy military organization that I could dedicate my life to.”

amanda dog1 copyPlus, she grew up with dogs. She has a 10-year-old bichon/schnauzer mix named Bubba, and a 10-year-old American Eskimo/Cocker Spaniel mix named Pepper, who live with her parents on Long Island. She shares a rescue named Mara, a 9 month-old German Shepard/Lab Mix, with her boyfriend.

She says that growing up with dogs, she knows that there is nothing more unconditional than the love of an animal. “They were my best friends, my protectors and my sunshine on bad days.” Also, she says, “I see pets as family, not just animals.”

Amanda says that when her cousin was killed in action, there was a lot of publicity surrounding his death. As she sought places to volunteer her time, she says that she had a hard time finding respectable organizations that didn’t take more money than they gave.

amanda dog2When she found Dogs on Deployment, she was immediately impressed with DoD’s 100% volunteer force, their image, their mission, and their financial reports. She describes herself as “honored” and “privileged” to be a part of Dogs on Deployment. And you can’t blame her, not with special memories like her first event with DoD: Dogapalooza.

“While I was chatting with a woman and her husband about what we do, another lady came running out of nowhere, tears in her eyes and gave me this huge hug. She told me that we were the reason that her son was able to keep his dog.” The woman went on to tell Amanda that her son’s dog had been a life-saver for her son, that he’d suffered PTSD, and the dog had been vital to his recovery. Amanda has come to realize how important her work really is.

“It was at that point [that] I realized how impactful DoD has already been in the few short years it has existed. Knowing that, because of DoD, a soldier and his dog are still both living a happy life together makes me feel so good about what I do,” says Amanda.

Amanda encourages anyone, and everyone, to get involved with Dogs on Deployment, whether through their local chapter, or through fostering. “There are so many opportunities to volunteer,” she says. “Find the ones that fit you best!” She says to talk to your local coordinator and find out what they need and you’ll be amazed at how you can help.

Pet Chit Success Story: Eevee is Back with her Daddy!

Ian adopted Eevee in May of 2014 when a military couple needed someone to take her because of an impending deployment. It was love at first sight, when he met her at a park near his station at Wright Patterson AFB. They have been close companions ever since.

12106940_10152937211491706_3254353600275523873_nBefore Ian met Eevee, he struggled with high levels of stress from his job. Like many of our soldiers, his sacrifices for our country were taking a toll on him, and he was finding it more and more difficult to recover. Once Eevee came into his life, Ian found it easier to cope with the demands that were placed on him.

He recalls, “since I have had Eevee in my life, she [has] help[ed] me actually get to sleep. She wakes me up from nightmares if and when I have them, and provides me with the comfort I need. Not to mention her silly smile and personality whenever I am down. She has been there for me for over a year now, and means the world to me.”

While Ian was stationed at Wright Patterson AFB, he coincidentally met the Midwest Dogs on Deployment coordinator. He was walking out of the commissary with dog food when they just happened to cross paths. They spoke for a few minutes and the coordinator wished Ian luck with his impending PCS (Permanent Change of Station) and gave him his DoD card.

Ian had orders to Germany. He emphasized how PCSing is one of the most hectic and stressful times in a service member’s career. When being shipped overseas for an extended tour, it can put a family into even more distress.

During his out-processing, Ian did not become aware of the quarantine procedures for shipping Eevee to Germany, until it was too late for him to handle it himself, or with the military’s help.

Soon, Ian was overseas, and distraught at the idea of having to give Eevee up forever. Then, he remembered Dogs on Deployment. He quickly contacted the Alabama chapter for help.

12144738_871293966273195_7940804953309957591_nOnce Ian signed up on the website and had contacted his local chapter, Dogs on Deployment started working to help him. They encouraged him to sign up for a Pet Chit to get financial assistance to help offset the cost of sending Eevee overseas.

In the meantime, Larabeth, a local DoD boarder was able to board Eevee for the two weeks it would take to get her ready to leave. Eevee came to stay with Larabeth, and her dog, Elsa. After their initial meeting, they got along great, and had a blast. During her stay, Eevee also got to meet other dogs, and played at the local park.

Larabeth says that “she was a delightful houseguest, and when it was time for her to go, it was a bittersweet goodbye.”

Once he applied for a Pet Chit, DoD granted him $1500 toward her trip. However, after Ian got a bit more information, regarding the quarantine rules and travel costs, he discovered that the cost of Eevee’s trip was going to be more expensive than he originally anticipated. The Local Alabama Chapter of Dogs on Deployment came to the rescue, raising additional money to help support the original $1,500 grant.

The community rose to the occasion. Between combined donations from booths at Tractor Supply Company’s Pet Appreciation Event, and a quilt raffled off at the Dog Days (Nights Too!) event, the Alabama chapter was able to raise another $300 for Eevee’s travel expenses.
eevee and doctor stipes2For anyone unaware, sending a dog overseas is an arduous and tedious process. Dr. Stipes, at Oak View Animal Hospital, carefully handled the paperwork to make sure that everything was in order and handled within the 48-hour time frame allotted, prior to Eevee’s transport.

Thanks to Dr. Stipes’ hard work, and Larabeth’s trip to the USDA office to get the papers endorsed, the overseas customs process went smoothly. And now, Eevee has safely arrived to Germany to be with Ian!

Larabeth says, “even though it was a very quick board, it was satisfying to know I helped Eevee be able to stay with her ‘forever family’. I will always love her, and I am looking forward to helping someone else the next time I am able!”

Ian’s advice to other military pet parents is, “to be as proactive as possible when PCSing with a pet. Ask questions as early as you can and seek out the information. The PCS process is arduous and if you don’t actively seek it, information can be left out by mistake. The consequences of not doing so can be detrimental to your pet and yourself. If something does happen, I highly recommend contacting Dogs on Deployment. You might be surprised at how much they may be able to assist you.”

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

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

PETSMART-logo

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.

PETSMART-logo

Bailey: Another “Tail” of a Successful Pet Chit!

Everyone knows that Dogs on Deployment is there for service members when they need to find a safe, happy home when they are deployed. But, did you know that we are there for other things? For example, did you know that we can help provide financial assistance for veterinary care, or for emergencies?

Bailey 4When Adam and Rachel Revolinski were attending the Yellow Ribbon Program they ran across our organization. Dogs on Deployment was there to explain the services we provide to soldiers and veterans alike. Having just added a new puppy, Bailey, to their family, they were eager to find out how Dogs on Deployment might be able to help.

Once they got the chance to learn more about how we help those in the military provide for their animals while they serve our country, both were very impressed, especially for single pet owners. “It is hard to say goodbye to your pet during a deployment for several months,” Rachel said. “But to know that you could provide the with a good home while you’re away is a good feeling.”

Bailey 1Remembering Dogs on Deployment’s services is why, when they needed financial assistance to get Bailey spayed, they turned to Dogs on Deployment. They applied for the Pet Chit Financial Aid, and after filling out the necessary forms, Adam and Rachel were granted the money to pay for Bailey’s procedure.

After the procedure, Bailey recovered quickly. Rachel said that they did their best to keep their puppy calm so that they wouldn’t have to put the “white cone of shame” on her, but in the end, Bailey’s energy couldn’t be contained, and they had to concede. As it turns out, Bailey looked adorable in the cone, anyway!

These days, Bailey is growing up. She’s 65 pounds, and not done yet. She is energetic, but loving and gentle, and she surprises the Revolinskis everyday with her silliness.

Bailey 2Rachel recalls how when Bailey was younger, she was scared of loud noises, such as the icemaker. She would eye the untrustworthy refrigerator with trepidation, anytime Rachel went to it for ice. One day, she gave Bailey an ice cube after a particularly long walk, and she absolutely loved it. Now, whenever Rachel goes to get ice, Bailey is quickly ready to accept an ice cube of her own!

There are many services Dogs on Deployment provides for pet owners in the military, besides helping find homes for pets while you are deployed. We offer services such as Pet Chit Financial Aid that can help military families pay for their pet’s medical care.

PetsBestLogo

We are able to help pets like Bailey thanks to our partnership with Pet’s Best Insurance. Reach out to us if you think we can help in any way, and we will do our best to match your needs with our services. Every animal counts!

Operation Drool Overload!

Through a common love of dog and country, The Lazy Dog Cookie Co, Inc. and Dogs on Deployment are partnering to launch “Operation Drool Overload,” a delicious, peanut butter and molasses-flavored grain-free dog treat. A portion of the proceeds from every box of Operation Drool Overload purchased will benefit Dogs on Deployment, and its mission to provide service members peace of mind when it comes to their beloved pets.

“Dogs on Deployment is dedicated to promoting responsible, life-long pet ownership, and it is the support of exceptional organizations like Lazy Dog Cookie Co. that help us make a difference for military pet owners,” said Debbie Gaskell, Executive Director of Dogs on Deployment. “We are honored to be working together on such a unique and exciting opportunity.”

The limited-edition, custom-made packaging featuring Leonidas, the 2015 Dogs on Deployment Military Pet of the Year and mascot, can be purchased at independent pet stores, boutiques across the USA and online.

“[We] are thrilled and proud to support our military and their animals through our partnership with Dogs on Deployment,” said Keith Augustine, Vice President of Sales for Lazy Dog Cookie Co.” For more information on this partnership, please visit Dogs on Deployment.

Puppy Love is Real!

Have you heard that scientists have proven what pet lovers have known all along? Namely, that the rush of love we feel when we look into our pet’s eyes isn’t all in our heads; puppy love is real!

IMG_3752A study was recently published in Science magazine, conducted by a team of Japanese researchers at Azabu University’s school of veterinary medicine. They showed that oxytocin, the chemical long thought to be behind human bonding and trust was identified in both humans and their canine counterparts, most specifically, when they were gazing into one another’s eyes. Awwww.

Researchers studied interactions between dogs and humans, but also measured their urine output to check for oxytocin levels, knowing this would indicate trust and bonding.

They found that when dogs and owners looked at one another, especially into one another’s eyes, it wasn’t in hopes for another treat; oxytocin levels rose in both the people and the dogs. Interestingly, the same could not be said for a control group of wolves.

Of course, any dog lover could have told scientists this, without conducting a study. And, as one researcher put it,  “I think the best evidence that any dog lover has that their dog loves them is what the dog does was when it’s around them,” Wynne says. “We’re entitled to trust the evidence of our own senses.”

Visit NPR to read more about this story.

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.

Cats, Dogs, Turtles, Dogs on Deployment Fosters them All!

Cool Foxy
Foxy, taking the deployment in stride

When Donald Saintil (De Nard) was deploying to Afghanistan, he needed to find a safe, comfortable home for his German Shepherd/Husky mix, Foxy. He was going to be gone for 11 months; and, in a strange coincidence, deploying with his twin brother!

Jo-Anne Thompson, with four dogs of her own, had created a unique pet-profile on her registration page, saying that she was willing to accommodate reptiles, because she also has four water turtles. So, when Donald asked if she would accept his turtles, as well as Foxy, she didn’t consider it an usual request, and gladly took them on!

The turtles, just hanging out
The turtles, just hanging out

“We were happy to help ease a member of our military’s mind while he was deployed” says Jo-Anne. “It was an honor and a pleasure to give back and support our men and women.”

She describes Foxy as a wonderful dog, with a soft coat, and a big, fluffy tail, and a thick coat. To keep Donald connected with his pets while they were apart, she created a Facebook page for him to follow photos and updates.

Foxy and Dad, Donald
Foxy and Dad, Donald

Jo-Anne had such a wonderful experience with Dogs on Deployment, that she convinced a co-worker to foster a dog too! And, she couldn’t stop at fostering. She volunteered to work at a local event, manning a Dogs on Deployment booth, and giving a presentation at a local pet fair in West Palm Beach.

She has since moved, having taken a job at Camp Lejune, in North Carolina, but she continues to advocate, and educate her new local community about Dogs on Deployment.