When a military member goes on deployment, there is a lot of stress for the family. If the military member has a spouse, there is concern about leaving the partner at home and discussing how the extended absence would affect any children with the family. However, those military members with so-called “fur babies” – most specifically dogs – do not necessarily have a partner at home to look after the dog while they are gone. They may have family members they could send the dog to, but the family members may have allergies. The service member who is about to deploy will then experience a lot of stress trying to rehome their dog, at least temporarily. That’s where Dogs on Deployment, a gift for service personnel in so many ways, comes in.
Dogs on Deployment was the collective brain child of Shawn and Alisa Johnson of the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps respectively. Both have experienced deployments where they were both absent, leaving them uncertain of what to do with their dogs. Alisa said she and her husband could have made good use of a service like Dogs on Deployment, which now boasts over 5,000 boarders. In the two years since the charity was established, they have been able to successfully board over 300 dogs.
By maintaining an active social media presence, Dogs on Deployment have gone from being a relatively unknown organization to having over 100,000 fans on Facebook. One of those served by Dogs on Deployment is Captain Jess Jempson, who was seriously stressed out and worried about what to do with her dog Emma. Emma and Jempson had been together since the dog was eight weeks old, and when Jempson was told she was going on a yearlong deployment, she was not sure what to do about her fur baby. She discovered Dogs on Deployment through Google, and met Alisa Johnson shortly after the two of them began exchanging emails. Jempson and Emma were matched with Sylvia, who then took care of Emma for the next 12 months.
Sylvia ensured the military member was kept up to date about Emma’s care while she was serving overseas. She established a Facebook page for the pooch and posted regular pictures and videos about what Emma was doing while she was gone. She also ensured that Jempson had a book of memories during her absence as well.
The two shared an emotional reunion on the Queen Latifah Show late last year, where the Johnsons were on hand to witness the two seeing each other for the first time in 12 months. Queen Latifah noted that the Johnsons deserved respect for deciding to help out military members such as themselves, who needed the gift of an organization like Dogs on Deployment to relieve the stress of trying to find a place to take care of their dogs.
For many families with dogs, the dogs (and other pets, for that matter) become like their own children; as a result, finding a place to home their dogs while they are on deployment can be extremely stressful. Organizations like Dogs on Deployment go a long way towards alleviating that stress.
Watch Jempson’s and Emma’s reunion here:
By Christina St-Jean