Tadek, Jason Muncy's Great Dane, recently had a very exciting, slobbery, reunion with his dad, after being apart for about five months.
When Muncy, a Communications Chief at Fort Bragg, prepared to deploy, he found himself with no care options for Tadek. Literally everybody that I knew, that I could depend on, was at this point where they just could not help," he says of trying to arrange care for him. Normally, he would be more than welcome, but it was like there [were] things going on for everybody."
When Muncy resorted to considering Great Dane rescue shelters, fearing he'd have to give up his precious pup, his girlfriend Vaughn Crawford, discovered Dogs on Deployment.
"I was like, give it a shot!" Muncy says, and within days, Naomi Cline found Muncy and Tadek.
It seemed like miracle, as Muncy's days were running short, and problems seemed to be compounding for Tadek. I'd just had him neutered, and he had hurt his tail really bad," Muncy says of Tadek's discomfort. "He was all bandaged up, had an Elizabethan Collar on, and I need[ed] to find a place for him and his medical needs."
Cline, who had long wanted to foster, but had never seen the right dog, at the right time, and in the right place, was a perfect match for Muncy and Tadek. She'd been following Dogs on Deployment on Facebook, but never came across a local pet in need. When she got an email that there was a dog in her area, in need, it seemed perfect.
It only took meeting Tadek once to convince Cline's on-the-fence-husband, that Tadek would fit right into their family. "As soon as he meet [Tadek], he was like, 'Okay, we're doing this!" Cline said of her formerly apprehensive husband.
Having Tadek join their family was a bit of an adjustment. Tadek weighs about 150 pounds, which while average for a Dane, is not what the Clines are used to with their other non-giant breed dog, and two cats. "We had to keep everything off the counters, because he could reach it all!" Cline says of getting used to Tadek's size. "Even tough Tadek is small for a Dane, he's still large. His head rests easily on countertops."
Cline's children adjusted easily to Tadek too. Danes aren't called Gentle Giants for nothing; "He was so careful around my daughter," Cline says of his demeanor. "She loved him and she rarely got bumped."
Muncy couldn't have been happier with Tadek's foster home, and joked that he would not have been surprised if Tadek refused to return home with him, opting instead to stay on with the Clines. "He loved it over there!" Muncy says.
Still, when Muncy returned, Tadek was more than thrilled. "He came up running, jumping all over me. He thinks he's a lap dog."
Since Muncy's return, Tadek hasn't had to say goodbye forever to his foster family; he's already had an overnight visit with the Clines, who are happy to consider him part of their family. Dogs on Deployment is proud and happy to bring about these kinds of reunions, and to establish these lifelong relationships between pets, owners, and fosters.
Our volunteer of the month, Jennifer Michaels-Kelly, is more than just a helping hand for our organization. The Washington D.C. Coordinator has dedicated so much time and love to helping others, that she was also named "Volunteer of the Year," last year.
She got started with Dogs on Deployment (DoD) after meeting other volunteers from her husband's work. She says, "I volunteered for an event and it was just really successful." She adds, "Then, I had a lot of ideas and I wanted to get involved." After that, she was hooked!
It didn't take long for Michaels-Kelly to be invited on as a local coordinator. She was thrilled, truly believing in the mission of DoD.
"It's so important to get the word out there, and help these people so that they can have full lives with their pets," said Michaels-Kelly.
Michaels-Kelly is an extraordinary volunteer because she truly enjoys what she is doing, and understands our soldiers' unique needs. She came from a military family with furry friends of their own.
"Coming from a military family, and [having] a crazy mother who loved animals and made sure that they could come with us everywhere we went — it was kind of like my worlds colliding between the military and the animals," says Michaels-Kelly.
Spreading the word about DoD is most important to Michaels-Kelly. She says she is always trying to make sure people know about the organization.
"It really is a great way of being able to help your troops, in a way that you wouldn't think of. I get such enjoyment out of it. I feel guilty sometimes because I get people thanking me and telling me what a great job I'm doing," said Michaels-Kelly.
Michaels-Kelly's dogs, Marley and Doobster (and don't forget her cat!), are all part of the reason she loves volunteering so much.
"My dogs are my children," said Michaels-Kelly. "If somebody told me that I'm going to fight for my country, but when I get home I wouldn't be able to see my children, well, I had some trouble with that."
Whether it be a blizzard keeping you in the house, a tornado forcing you to seek shelter, a fire displacing your family, or a hurricane demanding that you to evacuate, disasters require preparation. We all have plans for what we need to do to help our families, but do those plans include pets?
If not, they should. It turns out that it's not too difficult to add your pet to your family's disaster preparedness plan. It's as easy as 1-2-3:
A Readiness Kit
The day you get your pet can be the day you start preparing for any disaster because the first decision you make is how to ID your pet . ID options include a tag with an address and phone number and/or getting a microchip implanted, or other options. The most important thing is to make sure that your pet's ID is current.
Another necessary step is making sure your pet is up-to-date on his/her shot records and flee/tick prevention. Most shelters will not allow pets into their facilities, if they are not up-to-date, on their shots. If a flood destroys your home, and you need to board your pet, the last thing you need to worry about is being turned away from a reputable shelter because your dog isn't up to date on his Bordetella (kennel cough) shot.
A final, important preparedness step is to get a sticker for your home that alerts fire, police, and search & rescue personnel that you have a pet. The ASPCA will send them to you, for free. Once evacuated from the dangerous situation, if it's safe, and if time allows, you should write, "EVACUATED" across the sticker, so rescue personnel know that the animals are safely recovered.
Having a readiness kit is crucial to ensuring that your pet is equipped to survive outside of its normal environment, at least for a short period of time. While each pet will have individual needs to make him/her comfortable, there are a few items that should be on everyone's list:
Photo of Your Pet: It's important to have a current photo of your pet, should you get separated.
Food/ Treats: have food that suits your pet's dietary needs, and have enough for about ten days. Remember to update this as their nutritional needs change.
Water: Again, as with food, have enough for about ten days
Bowls: Something people tend to forget is bowls for food and water. It's wonderful to stock food and water, but without a container for your animal to eat from, these items become, essentially, useless.
Collar/Leash: In an emergency situation, and in unfamiliar surroundings, even the most well-trained dog, or calm kitty gets nervous. Make sure you can control your animal with a strong leash and with a collar.
Comfort Items: If your pet is partial to a specific blanket, a toy, or even a kennel, keep it with, or near, your emergency supplies. The scent of these items may help calm a nervous animal.
Medical Supplies- Shot records, medications and grooming supplies should be packed with the emergency kit, not scattered around the house.
If you do not live in an area where you have family near, or your area does not have any pet friendly emergency shelters, then you need a plan for where your pet will go, in an emergency. Having your Readiness Kit stocked ensures that no matter where your pet has to go, they will be comfortable, but finding a place ahead of time, ensures they will be safe.
A good plan includes a network of friends, family, neighbors and boarding facilities, both local and in surrounding communities (in case your local facilities are affected by whatever emergency has you fleeing your home). Having a ready list of places to turn to prevents last minute scrambling, and a potential disaster for your pet.
Most importantly, never leave your pet alone to fend for itself in a disaster situation. Contrary to what some might believe, that the animal's survival instincts will help it along, these animals often end up requiring rescue, and are often injured, sick and scared. Plan ahead and keep your animal safe and cared for, with you, or with a caretaker.
In general, it is important to prepare you and your family in case of a disaster; your pet is part of your family too. Prepare for their care, the same way you prepare for your own.
Some great resources for preparing your pet include:
The moment my husband and I saw Max's adorable face staring at us from his cage at the Humane Society, we knew he was the one. Falling in love with him was easy; figuring out how to keep him safe and ensuring his return to us, should he ever run away or be stolen, was more challenging. There are several options to protect your pet, should these unthinkable situations occur.
Upon getting Max from the human society, we instantly got him collar ID tags. It is engraved with his name, our name, our address, and our phone number. These are the easiest ways to ID a dog because a dog's collar is the first place anyone looks, when they find a stray.
There are many drawbacks to ID tags on a collar.They are easily lost, or torn off by a frisky, adventurous dog. They also wear out easily, making them unreadable; Max's chewing has marred his ID tags with teeth marks, for example. While there are new, high-tech ID tags with USB drives attached to them, they are not all that common; you can't always rely on the general public to know what to do with such a new piece of technology.
Microchips are a tamper-proof way to ensure that your pet can be reunited with you. However, a microchip should not replace your pet's rabies or generic ID tag.
Microchips are implanted into your pet with a needle and are generally placed between the shoulder blades. It is like getting a regular vaccine, so your pet does not need anesthesia; however, many pet owners choose to have them implanted during spay and neuter procedures, as the needle is larger than many vaccines. Talk to your vet about insertion, as some veterinarians recommend microchipping in conjunction with rabies vaccinations.
The microchip has a unique number assigned to it. The length of this number depends on where the microchip is implanted. For example, if the pet is given an ISO (International Organization for Standardization)microchip, he will have a longer code, one that is readable both backwards and forwards. Currently, North America does not follow the ISO standards; so, unless otherwise specified, most microchips implanted in North America are non-ISO standard microchips. However, if you are traveling to another continent, or with a military member with overseas orders, it is a good idea to microchip with an ISO standard microchip.
When a runaway pet is found and brought to a vet or a shelter, standard procedure involves the doctor scanning the shoulder area with a handheld device, looking for a chip. The scan is not harmful to your pet; the scanner looks much like a barcode reader you might see at the supermarket.
A microchip is only effective though, if it is registered with a database, much like a license. There are many well-known microchip database companies:
HomeAgain's annual fee of $17.95 registers your pet in their database of over 6.5 million pets. This includes all brands of microchips, and covers airfare of up to $500 to return your lost pet if they are found over 500 miles away from home. They also have a downloadable app that you can download to send notification to other members in the area regarding missing pets, kind of like an Amber Alert for your pet. They also have a 24/7 emergency advice line, and they offer pet insurance.
The company offers both pet insurance and a place to register microchip ID numbers. To register your pet there is a fee; they offer either a yearly fee, or a lifetime fee, and fees differ depending on whether you are registering a cat or a dog. They have a 24-hour emergency advice line, as well as an alert system that notifies local shelters if you report your pet missing. Like HomeAgain, they register any brand of microchip; but they also offer their own specific type of microchip.
Avid has a specific microchip that they offer called the Avid Friend Chip. To use an Avid Friend chip, you you can use the search option on their site to find a vet that carries their chip. They also have a registration fee, either annual or lifetime enrollment. It does not specify if you can register a non-Avid brand microchip, on their site. However, they require you to do a paper form to verify your pet's ID number and to pay the registration fee.
Tattoos work similarly to microchips, as they are a unique number, assigned to your animal. However, they are not internal like a chip; they are externally applied, usually to puppies. They are often done by the breeder, usually inside of the ear, on the stomach or on the inner thigh.
The drawback to tattoos is that, like on humans, tattoos fade. Additionally, because they are not as common, they are unexpected, and not always noticed as a source of identification, especially if they are in a location that may be covered with new fur growth.
Pet Tracker is a GPS unit that attaches to your pet's collar and sends a signal to a pre-determined area that you have assigned for your pet. It tracks, on a map, where your pet is, in this area, and if your pet leaves it. It even tracks your pet's activities throughout the day. It is waterproof, but runs off of a battery that you have to charge every 30 days. Pet Tracker (tagg) is the primary company offering this service.
With all the options we have available to provide identification for our pet it is very important to do your research to find out which one fits you, your pet, and your lifestyle. We all love our pets like they are part of the family, so why not use some of the great technology we have to be prepared for the worst?
Deployments are part of military life; just ask Kery and her husband Lee. It's just part of standard procedure for this Navy family. Lee was not worried about leaving the beloved family dog, Mija, a nine-year-old shepherd mix behind, because his wife, Kery, was going to be there to take care of her.
Then, life got complicated, as life often does, when deployments occur. With a brand new baby, and some health problems, Kery had to go stay with her parents for the duration of Lee's deployment. Unfortunately, Kery's parents couldn't take in Mija.
Thankfully, Donna Magee had seen Dogs on Deployment do a televised reunion, and as a volunteer foster for her humane society, she saw an opportunity to get involved with DoD at the local level. On the website, Donna saw Kery and Lee's post looking for a boarder, and it was a perfect match.
With two other small dogs already ruling the roost, Mija fit right into Donna's dog-loving home. And, Mija's special needs were perfectly met: "I'm blessed that I'm allowed to bring her to my office with me. When my daughter is in school, Mija comes to work with me, so as not to be left alone," Donna says of Mija's separation anxiety.
Still, Donna's aid to Kery and Lee didn't stop with giving Mija a safe place to stay during his deployment. Donna noticed that Mija didn't seem to be feeling well, and took her to the vet.
"Mija was boarded over the 4th of July weekend," Donna explains of noticing Mija's condition. "When we brought her home, she was not eating well, becoming irritable, sleeping a lot, and not wanting to be touched." In a short span of time, Mija had lost over ten pounds, and had pronounced lumps in her neck.
At the vet, Mija was diagnosed with Stage IV-V Lymphoma, meaning that she had cancer present in all her lymph nodes. Additionally, she had an enlarged spleen and kidneys.
Mija's chemotherapy treatments are projected to cost upwards of $5,000, a cost that Kery and Lee are unable to afford. Lee recently lost his mother, and the thought of losing his beloved dog, while still deployed, was too difficult to imagine.
"My husband's heart was heavy, as he could not bear another loss of someone so precious to him, especially in such a short period of time — and while he was still deployed," Kery says of her husband.
When Dogs on Deployment heard of this, through Donna, fundraising began without hesitation, on Mija's behalf. A $1,500 donation was made, almost immediately.
"I burst into tears when I heard the news!" Kery exclaimed, upon hearing that the cost of treatment was already being defrayed. "And, you are continuing to fundraise on her behalf!"
Donna adds that friends have helped by purchasing chicken and rice to supplement Mija's diet when she is feeling too ill to eat her regular food. "She's put on a few pounds, but she's still a little too thin," she says.
While helping military families, and their pets is part of everyday life for Dogs on Deployment, Kery says, "Words cannot express the sincere gratitude our family has for the help your organization has given to our family, and to Mija. We truly appreciate this more than anything. A million 'thank you's' would never be enough! The work that you do is so commendable, amazing, and so selfless. Your organization has touched our lives in a way that we could never repay! Thank you for your kindness and what you do for us and for our fellow military families and their dogs."
Thanks to the generous support from donations, Mija is on her way to recovery. If you are interested in continuing to support Mija, please visit the Donations Section of our website, and select "Save Mija" from the pull down menu.
Dogs chew. Anyone who has ever had a dog knows this simple fact of canine nature; and, if youâ€™re lucky, you ended up with a dog that knows to only chew toys. Still, when dogs behave, and only chew their toys, sometimes something goes wrong. Strings, and seemingly innocent bits of fluff and fabric can make their way into your dogâ€™s gut. Most of the time, they pass, unnoticed, until they are found decorating the yard. Sometimes though, these bits of string can loop themselves in knots around your dogâ€™s stomach and intestines, causing life-threatening blockages.
It was just this type of scary situation that sent Giacomo and Rhiannon rushing to the emergency vet with their dog, a year and a half year old Lab named Devil. Heâ€™d stopped eating and drinking for several days, and was persistently vomiting, all sure signs of an intestinal blockage. The images were unclear, but the vet felt sure that it was probably a string. The vet recommended operating immediately, and the concerned pet parents thought that it seemed a logical course of action, as a tiny string, almost impossible to see on an X-ray made perfect sense for Devil, a dog prone to tear apart his stuffed toys. Without hesitating, they paid the mandatory, up-front, expensive surgery fee.
"Devil is basically our child. We bothÂ love him so much that we would do anything for him,â€ Rhiannon says, about agreeing to the costly operation. â€œWhen he had to have emergency surgery, we had no choice but to say yes because itâ€™s what the vet said would help him and we just wanted him better."
Unfortunately, it didnâ€™t help Devil. After the $3600 surgery, which maxed out their credit cards, Devil was miserable, in more pain than before, and very dehydrated. Worst of all, the surgeon didnâ€™t find a string; the vet concluded that whatever was upsetting Devilâ€™s stomach must have simply passed on its own
Maxing out their cards was a financial burden to the couple, and they were only able to make the $75 minimum payment each month, which barely made a dent in the amount they owed. When it seemed like theyâ€™d never be able to recover their finances, a friend suggested they contact Dogs on Deployment and request assistance through the Pet Chit program.
The Dogs on Deployment Pet Chit program provides financial assistance to military members E-6, and below. It can be used to assist in basic veterinary care, including spay and neuter surgeries, pre-deployment health-care, travel and PCS related expenses, emergency care, and more. Giacomo and Rhiannon applied for a Pet Chit and contacted Alisa Johnson, president of Dogs on Deployment, who, through fundraising, Â raised $1300, applied directly to their vet bill.
â€œDogs on Deployment took a huge weight off of our shoulders helping to pay some of the bill,â€ Rhiannon says of the contribution, â€œIâ€™m forever grateful to them for caring as much about Devil as we do.â€
Alisa Johnson, president of Dogs on Deployment, adds â€œwe are so happy to be able to help Rhiannon and Giacomo."
Now, Devil is back to his healthy, happy self.
Rhiannon says, â€œI would have done it all again because our dog is seriously our baby,â€ but â€œI wish we had known about what you guys do beforeâ€¦from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for this helpâ€¦Between getting donations for owners and finding temporary fosters, what you guys do is amazing. Thank you so much.â€
I have had JD since he was an 8 week old puppy, and he just turned four in March. (Where does the time go?) Since his "infancy," he has been exposed to nearly everything but a plane ride, rock concert and scuba diving. He has met people, other dogs, cats, horses, cows, pigs, parrots, squirrels (he really LOVES squirrels…) etc. To put it short, he is well-socialized. He is (mostly) well-trained, and despite his protests, he'll usually roll over or play dead for a treat (unless he's being very lazy). I feed him food that I would eat in an emergency, take him to the vet for his annual checkup, spend about 30 minutes an evening brushing his ridiculously thick coat, and spoil him rotten. I'd say, overall, I'm a decent pet-owner.
JD has a step above most dogs, because he has an owner who really cares about his physical, mental and emotional well-being. One of the ways I keep him stimulated, is by near-daily trips to the dog park. He has been to parks across the nation through our military-commanded travels. He's met so many dogs and people I'm sure butt-smells are a blur to him.
Never in his four years has he had an incident with another dog. Until today.
I took JD and Jersey to a new dog park. We normally go to Bayview dog park in Pensacola, because there is a beach, a nice running trail and also a fenced in dog park. Due to errands I had to run today, I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone (I was getting brochures printed for our event at the Shiloh Airport in North Carolina, on April 14th!). They excitedly ran into the park, smelt the new dogs and explored their new surroundings, always keeping me in sight. Jersey brought me a disgusting germ-covered ball and I gladly threw it for her because she's so cute and in her puppy-way she asked "Please!" We were having a grand old time. I thought, maybe I found a new dog park that is closer to home (and one without a beach, because every time we go to the park portion of Bayview, JD stares at me wondering why we're not at the beach portion…).
The dogs were getting a little worn out but my brochures weren't going to be done for another 30 minutes so we sat on the bench and JD jumped up beside me for a good scratch behind the ears. Jersey joined shortly after and gave me a kiss on the cheek. I laughed and told the girl next to me, "We could be doing this at home!" Indeed – that is what we're doing right now, sitting together, all three of us on the couch.
A dog that JD had been somewhat getting a long with came up to sniff JD. The girl next to me sat down and put her backpack between us. The dog, which we will name "Precious," (we will use this as an euphemism) came up to sniff the backpack, which JD was also sniffing, and suddenly, went into attack mode. (I found out after that there was some food in the backpack.)
Precious grabbed JD by the scruff and yanked him to the ground. Without screaming or making a sound, I leaped to my feet, grabbed Precious by her scruff and threw her a good four feet from JD. All I saw were tuffs of JD's white fur floating peacefully through the air as Precious attacked again. JD, backing away and trying to avoid getting bit by his neck area, took protection behind me while I seized the dog one more time and then pushed JD even further away. This time, Precious lunged at ME! She grabbed me by the wrist before finally coming-to and let go.
I had yelled for the owner, who stood idly beside us with his leash in hand, a bit dumbfounded. I told him frankly, "Get your dog out of this park." He apologized several times, leashed his dog and left. Despite some missing fur, a bit of shock, a scratched cell phone (from falling out of my lap when I leaped to save my dog – whatever – a million and one cell phones wouldn't amount to the worth of my dog [a million and one cell phones at the price iPhone charges – without a contract]) and a bruised wrist that temporarily doesn't bend, all is fine.
I myself left immediately after gathering my things. JD, Jersey and I took a well-deserved trip to Petco (will they pay DoD royalties for this?) to buy entirely too many toys and a can of Wellness' Lamb stew. At checkout, as I was awkwardly holding my keys, dogs, wallet and purchases due to my swelling wrist, the cashier asked me what was wrong, so I briefly explained what happened.
Her reply, "Was it a [breed of dog – I don't want to cause any biases… but it was NOT a bully breed!!!] owned by an older man?" I said, why yes, yes it was! And she said she stopped going there because she had seen that same dog in attacks with others before!
Wow. And he still brings his dog back?
I am a strong proponent for "Blame the deed, not the breed." I didn't even want the man's name or number after I found out JD was OK. First, JD is insured (I highly recommend pet insurance in case of injury or illness) but second, JD was in fact, OK. I have no idea what the background of this dog is. She looked healthy; good weight, bright eyes, friendly demeanor. Her owner obviously cared some about her since she was at the dog park. Was she a rescue? Did she have a bad past? But how can an owner stand idly by while his dog is attacking another? Why would you bring your dog back if it had been in incidents before? Do you ever blame the dog, and not the people?
I don't know if I did the right thing by not reporting this man's dog. I think I did. It wasn't so serious that I felt it needed to be reported. But what if it had been? Or what if the next time this dog attacks, it is serious? I warned that man he should not bring his dog back to the park. But now we're punishing the dog for a possible lack of responsibility on the owner's behalf. Its a catch-22 scenario. There is no perfect solution.
What I can say is this, I won't be returning to that park as long as that crowd is there. I can also guarantee all of you that my dogs will remain properly socialized and stimulated, and if one of my dogs ever becomes aggressive, I'll be seeking professional help to put them back on track, because what if it were ever JD who was the perpetrator of a dog attack? I hope that it would be the same for my readers. If you're reading this, you must give a hoot about the welfare of animals, as we all should.