Pet Boarding Volunteers at Dogs on Deployment 

 

A 4-Paws-Up Salute to Repeat Boarders, Debra & Gary Freeman

Volunteer boarders and foster pet parents are critical to the success of Dogs on Deployment. Thanks to the care, compassion and cooperation of such individuals, increasing numbers of military members and families that seek help through Dogs on Deployment gain some peace of mind while in military training or on active duty.

Some volunteer boarders within the Dogs on Deployment network love what they do so much that they become repeat borders.

Debra Freeman is one such boarder. “The reason why I chose to be a DoD boarder is very simple,” said Debra. “I wanted to somehow show my support for the U.S. military, and what better way to do it than to show it through my love for dogs? It does my heart good! I must also say that my husband, Gary is a big help and fostering could not be done without him. He loves animals as much as I do! Together, we hope to keep reaching out to Dogs on Deployment to volunteer and share the love.”

 

Prior to agreeing to board any dog, the Dogs on Deployment organization makes it a point to introduce everyone involved to make sure “it’s a good fit.”  Initial meet-and-greets enable the dog’s owners and potential boarders, along with their children and pets, to get to know one another. This is followed by a trial run, which helps determine how the dog being boarded will behave in his or her new home and surroundings.

“Our initial meet and greet with potential boarders included our own fur-child, a yellow Labrador Retriever named Teddy,” Debra told us. “Sweet Teddy does not have a mean bone in his body, and fortunately, each of the dogs we volunteered to board have gotten along well with Teddy!”

 

Lincoln at the window, on patrol for squirrels & groundhogs

 

The first dog the Freeman family boarded was Lincoln. “We had him for 6 weeks in 2016, from early July to mid-August,” said Debra. “During our meet and greet he rolled in ‘doo-doo.’ I said, “Oh, we have a stinker who likes to roll in doo-doo!” My husband, Gary proceeded to help give Lincoln a bath. We told the other people involved not to worry, and that we had many dogs who also exhibited this behavior, and even some who had been sprayed by skunks. I think they were impressed with how we handled the situation, as well as the fact that we have a huge back yard. Later, when we discovered how much Lincoln liked laying in our bay window we made him a comfy bed there. He loved to watch the squirrels and groundhogs!”

 

Jack the boarder, who is also welcome back

The second dog the Freemans boarded was Jack. Said Debra, “we had him for the entire month of February, 2017. His owners said he moped around for a week after he went home because he missed me! Because of my disability, I’m always home and rarely leave. I’ll admit, Jack was spoiled here and loved all the attention I gave him. “

While boarding each of the dogs, Debra and Gary kept in touch with their respective military family owners via email, and were thoughtful and kind enough to send weekly updates along with a pic of their pooch – for which the service members were very grateful.

 

Jack with his temporary Dogs on Deployment foster mom, and George, his owner

 

Debra was glad to add that both homecomings were very happy ones for the owners and their fur babies. “It felt so good to help, and we look forward to boarding again through Dogs on Deployment!”

 

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/.

 

What’s It Like to Be a Dogs on Deployment Boarder/Foster?

 

Dogs on Deployment happily brings you this guest-post, written exclusively by Amy Robertson

 

My Life as a Boarder for Bam-Bam: A Love Story, 5 Years in the Making

I was sitting quietly on my couch waiting for my daughter’s bus to come when I heard my phone notifications ping several times in a row. I thought, it must be important, so I checked my account. I had six messages waiting. All with pictures of a smiling Bernese Mountain dog looking at me.  All the same dog.

Turns out that Mitchell, an active U.S. military service person, had just listed “Bam-Bam” on the Dogs on Deployment site and everyone in my dog circles was sending his picture to me. You see, I have been active in the rescue and re-home arena for Bernese Mountain dogs for over ten years, and am a recently retired U.S. Navy spouse. I was aware of Dogs on Deployment and thought the organization’s mission was an excellent idea. I wanted to participate but was waiting for the right dog to offer a room to. Bam-Bam was that dog.

Timing is Everything in Life

I emailed the link on the Dogs on Deployment site immediately. I hoped we were not too late to help! Berners (as Bernese Mountain dogs are affectionately known) are a beloved breed and I hoped we would be able to board him at most and, at the very least, let Mitchell know about the very active Berner community in the Hampton Roads area.

Not only was Bam-Bam a Berner, but Mitchell had worked hard with his dog to get him trained as a certified therapy dog, too. That distinction fit perfectly in with our family, as one of our daughters has multiple needs, and a therapy dog in our midst would be able to perform plenty of daily work helping our daughter with her tasks.

We all made our introductions and brought Bam-Bam home with us. He fit in exceptionally well. He was a joy to have in the house! We continued to be active in the community with him, taking him to local club walks and events. We participated in two Dogs on Deployment events where he was the mascot on duty at information tables, informing the public about what DoD does.

Love at first sight.

 

Bam-Bam spent seven months with us that first deployment. We loved every minute of it! Even when he tested out the fence height and decided that the swamp in the back yard was for rolling in. He brought joy to our lives like only a Berner can.

 

Amy with both “Berners”

When it came time to send Bam-Bam home to Mitchell, we all cried. After seven months, it felt strange to have only one dog again. We kept in touch with Mitchell, and later when his ship was out for several days, were able to foster Bam-Bam a few more times. Over the next few months, we again agreed to take Bam-Bam overnight, or for a few days at a time while Mitchell’s ship was away. It was a happy arrangement that suited everyone well.

My husband got a new job in a state far away and we thought we were done boarding Bam-Bam. It was sad, but we knew that we had given Mitchell plenty of names of folks who were still local to him if the need arose for another fostering/boarding need.

Two years later and Mitchell’s ship was working up for a deployment again. He called and sought us out, and again we were able to help. That time Bam-Bam stayed with us for a total of four months while Mitchell’s ship went in and out of port on workups.  Our devotion had us drove to Virginia to bring Bam-Bam home with us. The trip was a long one, and it was hard for Mitchell to have his pup so far away from home when he himself was home occasionally. Previously, on Mitchell’s brief visits home from duty, Bam-Bam was able to return home for a few days to be with his own “Dad,” and give him a huge moral boost in the process.

 

A family affair

Then one afternoon several months later, I got an email from Mitchell indicating that he was soon deploying, and asking if we could possibly take Bam-Bam yet again, even though we were so far away. I immediately said yes, and we made the ten-hour drive to go get Bam-Bam and bring him home. We were beyond excited to have him reunited with us, his foster family! This time he stayed for nine months. We sent weekly pictures and reports to Mitchell via the web so he could see all the things we were up to.

 

Bam-Bam patiently waits for the Sports section

This most recent deployment we seized the day, and took the opportunity to bring Bam-Bam back to Mitchell for his actual homecoming off the ship on the pier, rather than meeting up with him as per usual at the house. It was a day we will never forget. He was the only dog on the pier and the talk of the ship for sure. Nothing like a beautiful, big dog launching himself at a Sailor in crackerjacks to put a smile on your face!

 

Berners bonding in the park

If the need ever arises again, Bam-Bam will be very welcome to come stay with us. As of this point, he has actually spent almost half his life in our care. We couldn’t be happier with the arrangement. Thanks to Dogs on Deployment for this amazing experience!!

 

* We hope you have enjoyed this special guest-post, compliments of Dogs on Deployment Star Boarder and Devotee, Amy Robertson. Our thanks to Amy & Bam-Bam for caring and sharing! We give four-paws up to them both. (The regular editor for this blog, Susan Nitka, has gone fishing, but will return shortly.)

Jacquie Nichols Mikolaczyk Awarded Volunteer of the Quarter 3, 2016

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Passion & Conviction, Onward…

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

… and Upward

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

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

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

 

High Praise from Dogs on Deployment President, Alisa Johnson

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

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

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

 

 

Life-Saving Spay/Neuter Programs & Pet Chit Updates

 

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

 

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

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

Veterinarians have determined:

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

 

SNAP to It

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Successful Pet Chit Stories & Spay/Neuter Updates

 

Hatchie the Husky – Torres Family

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

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

 

Jager the Dog – Atnip Family

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

 

 

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

 

Winter the Cat – Barber Family

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

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

 

More Gratitude for Spay & Neuter Successes

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

REMIND YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS TO SPAY AND NEUTER! 

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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.

2017 DOD MILITARY PET OF THE YEAR CONTEST BEGINS

Military Members and Their Dogs, We Salute You!

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.

At Dogs on Deployment, we aim 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 Pet Owners, Here is Your Chance

Attention military pet owners – your dog could be the next “Military Pet of the Year” mascot! The Dogs on Deployment annual Military Pet of the Year (MPOTY) competition has begun. During the annual MPOTY event, military members are invited to proudly show off their pets along with the rest of their families.

Does your dog have what it takes to be named the 2017 Military Pet of the Year?

Check out the contest timeline below!

Contest Timeline:

SUBMIT YOUR ENTRY:

1/15 at 7:00 am through 1/29 at 7:00 pm

VOTING IS OPEN:

2/5 at 7:00 am through 2/19 at 7:00 pm

JUDGING PERIOD:

2/20 at 7:00 am through 2/28 at 7:00 pm

WINNERS ANNOUNCED:

3/1 at 12:00 pm

(All times are EST.)

The MPOTY 2017 Application and Contest Entry Process

Your application must include:

  • Documentation proving military status
  • Basic information
  • A photo to be used for the contest, and
  • 500 written words on why your dog should be chosen as Dogs on Deployment’s 2016 Military Pet of the Year and Mascot.  This essay will be used as a caption for your dog’s photo during voting.

Examples of topics for your essay are:

  • How did you get the dog in the first place?
  • What are some difficulties you’ve had caring for the dog along with your service commitments?
  • Any illness/accidents your dog has overcome?
  • How do you exhibit being a responsible pet owner in the military, etc.?

 

Your entry will be reviewed by the Dogs on Deployment Board to ensure compliance with the contest entry requirements listed below. Any entry not meeting these requirements will be disqualified from the competition. Submit your entries beginning January 15th at 7 am EST; they may be submitted until January 29st at 7 pm EST, at which time the contest is closed to any and all submissions.

Voting begins February 5th at 7 am EST, and closes on February 19th at 7 pm EST. During this time, each person is allowed one vote within a 24-hour period.

The Dogs on Deployment Board of Trustees will then pick the winner from the top three finalists receiving the highest amounts of popular votes. The winner is announced on March 1st at 12 pm EST.

 

MPOTY Contest Entry Requirements and Code Overview

Entry and Photo Requirements

  • Dogs only
  • May be any adult breed dog (over 1-year-old)
  • Dog must be spayed or neutered unless involved with responsible dog showing or breeding
  • Dog must be owned by an active duty or reservist military member or honorably discharged veteran
  • Dog must be a family pet whose owner meets our “Code of a Military Pet Owner” (see below)
  • Photo must be high resolution; prefer no phone photos, +200dpi, larger than 1200px x 1200px print quality
  • Portrait or candid style photo of military owned dog
  • No more than two dogs may be shown in the photo for a single entry
  • No humans allowed in photo
  • Professional photographs preferred
  • Photo must be original to owner
  • Photo permissions must be given to Dogs on Deployment for reuse
  • Contestants may not pay for votes, or use online pay-advertising to promote voting
  • Winners must be willing to be photographed in uniform with your dog for Dogs on Deployment imagery
  • Winners must be willing to maintain a Facebook page for Dogs on Deployment’s 2016 Military Pet of the Year and Mascot for one year
  • Winners must be willing to attend local events and speak on behalf of Dogs on Deployment to potential media contacts

Code of a Military Pet Owner

I’m a US Military Member and pet owner. I promise to always have a plan for them. I promise never to abandon them. I promise to keep them healthy and vaccinated. I promise to spay or neuter them. * I promise to train and socialize them. I promise to love them as unconditionally as they love me. I promise to be a good pet owner while serving my country. I promise this.

Good Luck one and all!

 

Ron Kerrigan, Awarded Volunteer of the Quarter 2, 2016

 

Washington State Volunteer, Ron Kerrigan Earns Distinction with Volunteer of the Quarter 2, 2016: Recognized for Efforts, Initiatives on Behalf of Dogs on Deployment

 

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

Alisa Johnson, President and Co-Founder, Dogs on Deployment proudly announced that Ron Kerrigan, Washington state volunteer for Dogs on Deployment, is the recipient of the “Volunteer of the Quarter” award for the second quarter of 2016.

 

Ron Kerrigan, manning a Dogs on Deployment booth at one of the many volunteer events he participates in.
Ron Kerrigan, manning a Dogs on Deployment booth at one of the many volunteer events he participates in, in Washington state.

Ron Kerrigan: Longtime Supporter of Military Service Members and Their Pets

Ron has been an integral member of the Dogs on Deployment team since 2014 when he first volunteered to board and foster military service members’ dogs.  But his concern and activism for the cause started years earlier.

Ron volunteered at an animal shelter on Whidbey Island throughout the 1990s, and saw firsthand how many United States Navy service members typically surrendered their dogs when deployed or transferred. This was especially evident in the wake of 9-11, in late 2001.

Said Ron, “I actually took a sailor’s dog for him during this pre-Dogs on Deployment period, but it happened only because I was in the office when he came in to give up his friend.”

Ron continued, “I was also involved back then in Old Dog Haven, as a board member and foster family. In 2011 a married couple stationed at JBLM contacted ODH looking to re-home their senior dog. One was going to Afghanistan, the other to Cuba. I took in their dog, but it was a surrender-agreement.”

Dogs on Deployment was still a fledgling organization at the time, without the major volunteer base it now has. “I kept that dog until April of this year when her age — 16 years — finally caught up with her. Coincidentally, both the husband and wife were back at JBLM for a short time. They drove up to be with her at the vets when we sent her off,” added Ron.

Fortunately, Ron and the folks at Old Dog Haven started looking for alternative solutions when service members did not want to surrender their pet. In 2014 Ron discovered Dogs on Deployment and signed up as a volunteer boarder. For his first “official DoD” outing, he boarded a pair of dogs for a service member stationed on the USS Nimitz. Ron recalls that the service member would bring his dogs over for three or four weeks at a time whenever the boat went out on exercises.

Since then Ron has worked with tireless dedication to the cause, and brings his love of dogs everywhere he now goes to promote the mission of Dogs on Deployment.

 

This display case shows the many items Ron has used as a Dogs on Deployment volunteer at various events. It will be on display at his public library branch through December, 2016. Check out the giant dog tags – he made them himself, and offered them freely to other DoD volunteers that wanted them!
This display case shows the many items Ron has used as a Dogs on Deployment volunteer at various events. It will be on display at his public library branch through December, 2016. Check out the giant dog tags – he made them himself, and offered them freely to other DoD volunteers that wanted them!

 

Bremerton Event Coordinator, Laura Finch, assisted in the nomination of Ron for this award. After Board review, he was wholeheartedly selected to be our Volunteer of the Quarter 2, 2016 by DoD President, Alisa Johnson. “Ron’s dedication to Dogs on Deployment has been a tremendous asset to those around him and everyone throughout the organization,” said Alisa.

“Ron’s been awesome at helping and setting up Dogs on Deployment events on Whidbey Island, most often on his own,” said Laura. “He’s been really great and a more than worthy candidate for DoD’s Volunteer of the Quarter!”

Among the many events he has participated in are:

  • The WAIF Wag n’ Walk: three years running – 2014, 2015, 2016
  • Scrub a Mutt 2015
  • Everett Mutt Strut 2015, 2016 (he even paid application fees with his own money)
  • Mill Creek Festival 2016

And Ron continues to serve as a dog boarder. Last year he took in a dog for seven months when his owner went to Japan. “And in June, 2016 I had a dog for a month when his mom went to sea from Everett,” said Ron.

Boarding more mature dogs may be on the horizon. Ron added, “my own pack, now at five dogs, is old and sedate, so young dogs can be a trial.”

Congratulations, Ron!

Ron witnessed the pain and heartbreak that was common when military service members were forced to surrender their family pet in the name of service to his or her country. He exemplifies volunteerism at its finest because he got involved to provide a solution to the problem.

Added Alisa Johnson, “Due to his hard work, big heart, and strong dedication, I am sincerely proud to call Ron Kerrigan a team member of Dogs on Deployment.”

 

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.