By Laura Cooper
Editorâ€™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 Iâ€™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 â€“ Dogs On Deployment.
Dogs On Deployment, or â€œDOD,â€ 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 ownerâ€™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.
Patrick and Lydia Harmer, Sandyâ€™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 HarmerÂ 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 HarmersÂ 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 HarmersÂ were so happy to find someone here in Maryland near Lydiaâ€™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.
Late on a Tuesday evening Sandy arrived at BWI, and was kindly brought to our home by friends of Lydiaâ€™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 treatsâ€¦but weâ€™ve already spoiled her rotten and plan to continue doing so.
Dogs on DeploymentÂ has been needed for many years to comfort a military pet ownersâ€™ 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 Craigslist.org 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, Iâ€™m sure youâ€™d be more then a little surprisedâ€¦or as a pet owner a little less worried in the â€˜what ifâ€™ departmentâ€¦