Article by: Erin Whitehead, Director of Marketing
Photography by: Just B
What are the things you miss the most when you are separated from family and friends during the holidays due to military service? Military personnel and their family members often talk about missing not only loved ones, but traditions, climates, and of course, those holiday dishes that remind us of home. Additionally, many service members find themselves missing the companionship of their furry family members during this time of year.
We recently touched base with our friends at Dogs on Deployment, an all-volunteer, national 501(c)(3) non-profit providing a central network for military members to find volunteers willing to board their pets while they are deployed or have other service commitments, making them unable to temporarily care for their pets. Dogs on Deployment aids pets of all types that belong to active duty, reservists, guard, honorably discharged veterans and their families. They introduced us to one very special family member, “Leo” (short for Leonidas), their 2015 Military Pet of the Year (and DoD mascot). Although his owner, Tim, was able to make it home for the holidays, when military orders required him to serve in another state, his family, including his beloved dog Leo, opted to remain in Hawaii.
In Tim’s case, his pet was able to remain with the rest of his family, but many service members find themselves in a difficult position when they get deployment, temporary duty, or PCS orders that exclude their pet from accompanying them on tour. Dogs on Deployment have helped countless service members ensure that their beloved pets are taken care of during these separations, promoting life-long pet ownership in the military community.
Think about being deployed and knowing your fur-baby is in a home with free rein to sit on any couch he’d like and have a back yard to play in, a family to snuggle with, instead of being stuck in a boarding facility. Imagine that a breed restriction precludes you from bringing your pet with you during a PCS move. Instead of having to make the heartbreaking decision to re-home your pet or leave them at a shelter, Dogs on Deployment helps families find foster “parents” to care for them until the service member’s military service allows them to reunite with their pet.
Many foster families set up Facebook pages for the pet of a service member they have volunteered to care for so they can keep the service member updated with photos and updates. To keep in touch during not only the holidays, but throughout the year, many service members utilize technology to stay connected to their furry friends. Tim and Leo have frequent Skype sessions, and it is clear that both parties enjoy the experience!
PCSgrades is committed to solving many of the problems service members and their families face during PCS moves by providing trusted reviews by military families on realtors, lenders and service providers. Offering lasting solutions to the unique issues service members, veterans and their families face is at the core of what we do. Dogs on Deployment has excelled in helping meet a unique need through their mission of helping to improve the lives of our military and their pets. We invite you to check back with us here at PCSgrades for new content from DoD, offering you the best information about how to navigate the PCS process with your pets. Additionally, we encourage you to visit Dogs on Deployment to see how you can help them continue their mission!