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:
- Pre-Disaster Preparation
- A Readiness Kit
- Evacuation Plan
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: