Dogs on Deployment: DoD Boarder’s Perspective

By Laura Cooper
Editor’s Note: Laura Cooper is a long-time Army spouse living in the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. area. In addition to her generosity in providing loving homes for dogs while their owners and deployed, she actively volunteers at the Historical Society of Harford County, repairing and encapsulating archival documents, among other things. Original post found here.Â

If you are a pet owner I’m sure you have had the wonderful adventures of finding a boarder, babysitter, or coming to a point of having to take a beloved pet to the pound when deploying. But now there is another option – Dogs On Deployment.

Dogs On Deployment, or “DOD,” is a national, non-profit organization which provides a central online database for service members to search for individuals or families who are willing to welcome a DOD Pet into their home for the length of their owner’s deployment.

My family already had three beautiful labs, Abby 13 (from Ga.), Kelsey 10 (from Mo.), and Lucy-Lu (from Ky.) who just turned one last Dec 13th. But a couple of weeks ago we had another visitor flying in from San Diego, Calif. for a six month DOD stay. Her name is Sandy.

Sandy, a DOD.

Sandy, a Chihuahua-mix, found a temporary home with Laura Cooper’s family in Maryland.

Patrick and Lydia Harmer, Sandy’s owners, are set to move to their next duty station in Okinawa, Japan this month where they are not authorized to bring their pets. Patrick Harmer is a U.S. Marine and the couple has a two-year-old son and another child on the way in a few months. The Harmers own two beautiful dogs, but had to separate them because they could not find a volunteer to take both animals together, and at the time they came across us, their little Chihuahua-mix Sandy was still in need of a babysitter. The Harmers were so happy to find someone here in Maryland near Lydia’s mother in New Freedom, Penn., but what was more surprising was her mother knew our son Garen, and had just retired from his elementary school last year.

Patrick & Lydia Harmer

Upon receiving orders to Okinawa, Japan, the Harmer Family needed to find baby-sitters for their two dogs.

Late on a Tuesday evening Sandy arrived at BWI, and was kindly brought to our home by friends of Lydia’s mother. The Harmers tried to make this so much easier by helping Sandy feel a little bit more at home and comfortable by sending us her bed, toys, blanket, and treats…but we’ve already spoiled her rotten and plan to continue doing so.

Dogs on Deployment has been needed for many years to comfort a military pet owners’ heart. Now they can be reassured their loved one is being taken care of while they are away, and can focus on their work or task at hand. Until many are aware of DOD, one day a week is put aside, sometimes by their friends on Facebook, to search for people who have come to an end of finding a home for their pet before deploying. So far I have come across 14 pets in need of care during deployments, and all have found babysitters in time. Take a couple of minutes and visit their site, I’m sure you’d be more then a little surprised…or as a pet owner a little less worried in the ‘what if’ department…

Leave a Reply