Dog, Reactive Dog

Army Dog Life: Resources for Military Pets

Pre-Army Life

I grew up in the great state of New York.  Growing up, my main interest was competitive swimming.  When I went to college, I swam for their college team and then in grad school, I pursued a degree in Sport Management so that I could follow my dream of becoming a swim coach.  I was lucky enough to become an Assistant Coach at University of Rochester. I had my life mapped out: assistant coach for a few years, start applying for a head coach position and continue working at great swimming colleges.  The plan was to save enough money to buy a house and then I could get my own dog.  That was the plan.

Then a friend and I decided to sign up for Match.com.  Well, my perfect plan was shot.  I met a guy who was living in Watertown, NY (2 hours from where I was) and he was an officer in the Army, stationed at Ft. Drum.  I liked this guy and then I loved this guy.  Being in a relationship with someone in the Army comes with some interesting caveats: deployments, moving every 2-3 years, long periods of training, uncertainty, and sacrifice.  So when we got married in 2013, that came with the knowledge that if we were to be together, we’d have to move together and leaving behind a career and a place I called home for over 20 years.

Right after we got married (for the second time-long story) we moved to Oklahoma for 6 short months.  This was a bit of a cultural change for me!  There we adopted our dog Geronimo. Next, we moved to Kansas.  We’ve been here for 3 years and that’s where we found and adopted our second dog Lawrence.

Army Spouse Journey

Being an Army spouse comes with some challenges, but it also takes you on a journey that  you might never have taken.  Even though I had to leave a career behind (swimming is not particularly popular in this part of the country), I did have an opportunity to follow a passion in working with dogs.  In Oklahoma I worked as an Assistant Vet Tech and learned SO much. In Kansas I worked as a dog walker, fostered, volunteered at a shelter, and started working as an Assistant Dog Trainer.  I may have never done any of that or had the guts to switch careers had it not been for the Army.

My Little Army Family

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Had I not met my husband, I probably would have never thought to live in this part of the country.  If I hadn’t moved to Oklahoma and Kansas, we would never have met our two dogs, Lawrence and Geronimo. Those dogs have made our little family a happy one.  And for that, I am thankful.

However, being an Army family means there will be some tough times.  My husband left for an 8 month deployment while we were in Kansas, which meant Mo and I were on our own.  It was tough because I couldn’t depend on my spouse to feed him or let him out if I was late at work.  Mo had to have surgery on his side and it was a difficult month of healing. He had to be quarantined for a month due an incident in the park (everyone was ok!).  Mo was a handful and I may have cried and wished my husband was home to help more than once.

But we made it!  We relied on help from our vet, doggie daycare and our dog walkers. Mo and I had a stronger bond after all of that too.  And the most amazing part was watching Mo welcome his Dog Dad home:

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Military Pet Resources

I am aware that taking care of kids while a spouse is deployed is different from taking care of pets.  However, pets can present their own challenges for a military family and even more so if there medical or behavioral issues.  Here are some wonderful resources for you or a friend:

Dogs on Deployment

This non-profit organization helps military families with pets, whether it’s a single soldier, dual military family, or family in need.  They assist families in finding boarding for their animals while they serve commitments. They believe that no pets should be surrendered due to their family serving the country.

If you are interested in helping, participate in one of their virtual races, donate, or volunteer to board pets.

Pets for Patriots

Pets for Patriots aims to help veterans afford shelter pets. They help find homes for overlooked pets by pairing them with veterans.  This is a win-win: pets find loving homes and veterans get the special bond from an animal.  That bond can make all the difference for veterans and their families.

Veterinarians and shelters can help by becoming partners and everyone can help by donating!

Operation Military Pets

Operation Military Pets is an initiative through SPCA International.  They aim to support military families with relocation costs that they may incur when transporting a pet due to a new duty station.  They offer grant’s and financial assistance to qualified applicants.  Moving a pet across the ocean or country can become expensive.

You are of course able to donate and the application is easy to fill out!

Pet Travel

This is a great site to get information about traveling with your pets. It has information about plane travel, animal friendly hotels, driving tips, and more!  For military families that are planning to move, this is a great place to start for some basic travel knowledge.

PCS Pets and Happy Tails Travel

Both of these site can help with relocating your pet to your new duty station.  There services require payment, but they help you navigate travel and keep your pet safe.

PACT for Animals

This another non-profit organization that works with military personnel or people in medical crisis so that they don’t have to unwillingly surrender their pets. They have a foster system that allows pets to stay in a warm home while their parents are away.

If you are looking to help, they are asking for donations, fosters, professional services, and volunteers.

Embrace Pet Insurance

Embrace Pet Insurance isn’t specifically military related, but having pet insurance can be a comfort when a pet needs medical help.  We use Embrace and they have been great to work with.  When my husband was deployed. we received assistance when Mo needed surgery.  Mo then had to have a second surgery and it’s starts getting expensive, especially when you know you have a move coming up!  Pet insurance is a smart choice for a military family and it is a wonderful safety net.

 

Have you come across some wonderful organizations that help military families and their pets? Let me know in the comments and I’ll add them to the list!

26 thoughts on “Army Dog Life: Resources for Military Pets”

  1. I’d heard of a few of these organizations but thank you for listing so many of them! It must be awful to worry about your pet while deployed. I know for many returning vets, particularly those without families, they heavily rely on their pets to help them with PTSD and the general stress of returning. I’m so glad you can offer help. (And my mom graduated from the University of Rochester!)

    1. Yes, I was thinking about doing a whole other post about service/therapy dogs for vets because there are so many resources and information for that! Which is awesome!
      And no way! It’s a great school and a great city, we miss it!

  2. I grew up as a Dip Kid (Canadian Diplomat) and went to school with army kids during my last high school years in Bonn Germany. We had pets. Maybe my travel with pet blog in part was inspired by the fact that we moved every 4 years and our pets always came with. Who knows. It’s a tough life. But you and your pups … you got this.

  3. You never know where life is going to take you, who you are going to meet and be with and I believe it all happens for a reason. I’m happy that you were able to find the help and support at a time that you needed it most.

  4. My Dad was in the army, so I spent some time bouncing around as a child and I kind of get it. It must be so hard when your husband is out on deployment and you and your pups are home alone, but I also bet it’s made your bond a whole lot stronger too!

  5. You have such a unique perspective and it’s lovely to hear. My father was in the Air Force but he was retired by the time I came along. My mother grew up as an Army brat so she really lived the military life. I know it can be incredibly hard. Thank goodness you have your pups!

  6. What an eye opening and enlightening post! I encountered a lot of American servicemen and women when we lived and travelled in Europe and I had never thought of the impact on their families.

    I have read of service women having to leave a pet or be stressed because they risk losing a pet due to deployment. I see there are organisation to help – gosh this must we a weight off the minds of those who love their pets while serving their country.

  7. Great post. I grew up in Israel where both girls and boys have to go into the army, it is compulsory so I understand how you feel as the men stay in the army doing training till the age of approx. 60 plus are on alert all the time so the burden does fall on the army wives. It is wonderful there are such fantastic resources for the military families as I am sure it does ease the burden a little bit

  8. Hey neighbor! I am in Topeka! Did you name your second dog Lawrence after the city?
    I can only imagine how hard it is being a military wife!
    My son was a competitive swimmer and we were a swim family for years!
    I sure miss those days too.

    1. I’m in Manhattan, KS! And yes, Lawrence is named after the city. Just like Geronimo is named for our time in Oklahoma. Small world!

  9. I think you have quite an exhaustive list here. I didn’t even know about some of these. So cool there are specialized organizations for military families in particular.

  10. I’m so glad that there are so many organizations to support our military and their pets!

    Reading your post is sort of like reading my life story in reverse! My dad was in the Army, so I moved a lot as a kid. After graduating college, my husband and I moved to Central New York. Our first dog together was an awesome mixed breed that we named Geronimo.

  11. I really enjoyed your post. I never thought about the lives of dogs who have owners in the military. You provided a lot of good information for resources that I had not heard of. Thanks for the info.

  12. I didn’t realize there were so many organizations that specialized in helping members of the armed services with pets. I’ll be keeping these groups in mind. You never know when casual conversation can lead you to that person who needs that one tip you’ve got.

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