Sometimes the tiniest, seemingly insignificant things happen for a reason---there are these fleeting moments that pass you by and you won't give them a second thought because, well, why would you? It's only seconds out of your life.
But for Ian, a member of the military stationed at an air force base in Ohio, this moment meant receiving a business card from a man he'd met just minutes before. The card gave the name of the Mid-West coordinator for Dogs on Deployment
(DoD), a life-changing organization that provides military members with volunteers and resources to ensure that no human is forced to surrender their dog due to service commitments.
The DoD website states
No pet should ever be surrendered to a shelter due to a military commitment. DoD exists to help military members keep their pets by alleviating the need for pet relinquishment from military members due to the hardships of deployments.
They provide long-term boarding with helpful volunteers all over the country, assist with emergency costs should anything happen while their humans are away, and consistently advocate for the rights of these owners to keep their pets while on military installations. It's a massive, amazing effort that keeps beloved dogs out of shelters and gives military members peace of mind.
Ian's dog, Eevee, entered his life more than a year ago when another military couple could not keep her due to an impending deployment. He met her at a park near the air force base and never looked back---they were hooked. Not long after, Ian received a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) from Ohio to Germany, and was not made aware of the quarantine procedures for Eevee to go along with him until it was too late for him to do it with the military's help.
He was at a loss for what to do and tormented by the idea of having to surrender Eevee for the second time in her life.
That's when Ian remembered the stranger with the business card and reached out to Dogs on Deployment for help. Lara Knight, the volunteer boarder who took Eevee into her home, told the BarkPost a bit about the work that goes into transporting dogs overseas:
The quarantine process tends to be different for each country. The purpose is to make sure that an animal entering the country doesn't have diseases that are eradicated in that country. For instance, rabies is something a lot of countries don't have and therefore don't vaccinate against. Most processes range from 30 days to 6 months and some allow the animal to stay in the original country while others have the dog held in quarantine in the destination country.
She goes on to say that in addition to the extensive procedures, the exorbitant cost of flying animals to other countries varies greatly depending on the country of origin, the country where the they are headed, and the size and type of animal.
When Ian realized how quickly the costs were accumulating (already more than $2,000), he knew it would be an expensive and difficult process. DoD managed to tackle everything with generous grants and donated money from several of the organization's chapters. Knight says:
Eevee flew under a "commercial transport" classification because Ian had already gone overseas. This means there is only a 48 hour window to get extensive paperwork filled out by a USDA approved vet, have the paperwork endorsed by the USDA office, and to see Eevee safely boarded onto the plane. Thanks to Oak View Animal Hospital's Dr. Stipes, this process went smoothly. She went out of the way to make sure we had the paperwork correctly handled and made sure to answer all the questions and concerns I had as Eevee's temporary caregiver.
It took the patient persistence of several parties to make it happen, but Eevee finally made it to Germany with Ian and not to a shelter like so many other dogs in military families.
When we hear these stories, it's hard not to wonder why it is so difficult to keep military personnel and their pets together, especially since that animal may be the only family member to offer an unmatched sort of comfort and support.
Truly, Eevee changed Ian's life. Knight explains:
Before Ian met Eevee, he struggled with the level of stress his job entails. His sacrifices for our country were taking a toll on him that he was finding more and more difficult to recover from. Once Eevee came into his life, Ian found it easier to cope with the demands that were placed on him.
I believe we all know how great dogs make us feel, and this sweet girl is no exception. Ian says:
Since I have had Eevee in my life, she helps me actually get to sleep. She wakes me up from nightmares if and when I have them and provides me with the comfort I need. Not to mention her silly smile and personality whenever I am down. She has been there for me for over a year now and means the world to me.
"I loved having Eevee for the short time we were together," Lara says. "She got along well with my dog, Elsa, and it was satisfying to know that I helped a military member have one less sacrifice to make. Being able to board Eevee so she could stay with her 'forever family' is something I take pride in."
We couldn't be happier that this story has such a fantastic ending, and that Eevee and Ian can now enjoy their lives together as they should always be able to. Huge thanks to Dogs on Deployment for making this happen, and for keeping one more pup with the family where they belong.
To make a donation to Dogs on Deployment and help keep families like Ian and Eevee together, please visit their donation page.
Featured Image courtesy of Lara Knight