Dogs? — The Bump
Military Families

Dogs?

Hello all! My husband is a medical student and is in the Army HPSP program. He is away this summer for 6 weeks of training. We're only in the third week and I am pretty lonely. It's the longest we've ever been apart and it's really been eye opening. I really want a dog to fill the void (and because I REALLY want a dog!), but DH is concerned about getting one with all the moving we will potentially be doing for the Army. DH loves dogs and does not want to get one if there is any possibility that we may have to part with it.

 I know many of you have dogs. What are your opinions on owning a dog as a military family? Are the bases good places for families with dogs? We're both pretty new to the military and would appreciate insight from those of you who have been in it for a while. Thanks!

I apologize in advance if this is a silly post, I'm pretty new to this Smile

Re: Dogs?

  • well do you have someone to take care of it while you move? go on vacation? etc...

     



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  • We got a dog for the same reason! I started to get lonely and wanted one.  It is expensive when you do want to go on vacation or go back home to visit family to board him and kind of a pain to bring him.  Even if you just want to spend the night/weekend somewhere, you have to think of him.  He's never been a problem on moving day, we just put him in his crate while the movers are at the house.  My husband's in the navy, so things might be different, but we prefer to live off base so we can get our full housing allowance and pay less for rent, so we end up saving the extra money.  Doing this, it's hard to find decent places that allows a dog, even though he's never been trouble! The bases are great places for dogs, because they allow them and have nice yards and sidewalks to walk them, but we've always preferred to live in town.  I would definitely get a smaller dog, that doesn't shed, and maybe a little older so you don't have to house train him! Hope that helps somewhat!
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  • We have two dogs, and while I wouldn't trade it for anything, it's not always easy, and it's usually expensive.

    Moving across 2 states with them and the babies, with only 3 weeks notice... was hard.  Really really hard.  And expensive since we had to board them for a week to get the house cleaned out, then pay extra fees in the hotels for the 8 days or so that we were in between houses.  Then there's the vet fees, because you HAVE to keep their shot records updated and have them microchipped if you live on most bases.  We only get to go home once or twice a year, and because we go for 7-10 days each time, we usually spend about $300-400 on boarding them during that time, and that's for one of the cheapest boarding places in town.  Oh, and if you rent (or even on most bases) you'll be paying pet deposits each time you move.  Most are at least partially refundable, but they can be really expensive costs up front.  At our last house we paid $800 just in pet deposits.  I think the least we've ever paid was to live on base here, and it was $250 total.  If he ever gets stationed overseas that's a whole other mess of issues when you have pets. 

    It's really not as simple as, "I want a dog!" when you're moving a lot, or living far from home.  It's not impossible at all, and there are great benefits to having dogs IMO, but there are a lot of things to consider with this lifestyle.

    All that said, it's usually pretty easy to find rentals with pets (especially if you get a small dog... big dogs can cause problems in that area too), and all the bases I've ever been on allow dogs in the housing with limits as to how many and what breeds.  Definitely don't get any dogs on the banned breeds list or you won't be able to have them on base, or in most civilian rentals.  As much as I think that sucks, it's pretty much impossible to find affordable housing that allows banned breeds, and there would be a much higher chance of you having to get rid of the dog if you have one of those.

  • We have three dogs. 

    We haven't had any problems yet. The biggest difference is that owning pets in the military is more expensive. (Shipping fees, Boarding fees and so on..) However, if you don't mind spending the money than it shouldn't be a problem.

    If you are going to get a dog.. I would suggest thinking about them as a family member. Be willing to spend a lot of money on them, just like you would for anyone else in your family. 

    Also, as PP mention.. I would also suggest not getting a dog on the banned list. I also suggest medium/smaller breed dogs. It will save money on shipping and give you more choices in housing.

    When thinking about what kind of dog to get.. really research different kinds of breeds. Find one the fits your lifestyle and not just one that is "cute". Plan to invest time and training.

    Please research the places you plan to get your dog as well. Avoid puppymills and backyard breeders. I am sure the pet boards on The Nest can help you better than I can.. so if I were you, I would ask any pet-related questions there.  

     

  • It's totally doable, but as pp said, it can be difficult, and it can be expensive, especially if there's a chance you'll end up overseas. We just paid 5K to ship our German Shepherd over from the UK.

    Something else to remember is that most overseas locations and some stateside (Hawaii) have stringent quarantine regulations, so be prepared to research thoroughly before you attempt to ship your pet anywhere with you.

    I love having our dog, but my one regret is that it's impossible for me to just pick up and go somewhere when DH is deployed or TDY. My non-pet owning friends hop onto flights and go home for months, go on vacations, etc., at the drop of a hat, and that's just not really an option if you don't want to ship a pet.

  • It's totally doable to have dogs in your military family.  The key is to not have more than 2.  You'll want to get the dog microchipped and try to get a much routine vet work done at a base vet.  You'll also want a folder for every piece of paper you ever get from the vet.  It will come in handy, if you have to do an overseas move. 

    Our apartment in Pensacola had some steep pet fees (non-refundable deposits + pet rent), but that was the only place that was really bad.  We lived on base in CC and I think they wanted $350 for 2 dogs and that was refundable minus $120 for carpet cleaning.  Currently, we have a $500 pet deposit, but it's completely refundable.

    Our next duty station is in Japan.  The move is going to be a bit more challenging because of the dogs, but they are in great shape to go.  They needed some bloodwork done, but other than that it's just a ton of paperwork and planning on my end.

    HTH!

    *I wanted to add that we have bigger dogs 55 pounders and haven't had an issue finding a place that will take them.  It can make house hunting a little trickier, but we've found landlords that like to rent to military.  Our military friends have been great about watching the dogs, when we go on trips.  We had several friends take them, when we went to Europe for 3 weeks.  They've only been boarded once for 4 days in the 4 years that we've had them.  We pet sit in return for the people that have pets and buy beer for the ones that don't.

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  • We got a dog for the exact same reason. We started off wanting a Husky but got a Toy Yorkshire Terrier. I know it's a huge difference. With moving all the time, having a small dog helps out a bunch. Flying with a little dog is alot cheaper than a bigger dog. I mean my little dog can count as a carry on with most airlines. He's only 3 pounds and the cutest. He even gives me water during those morning sickness toilet trips. I say it's totally worth it.
  • imageThe_Spanish_Inquisition:

    It's totally doable, but as pp said, it can be difficult, and it can be expensive, especially if there's a chance you'll end up overseas. We just paid 5K to ship our German Shepherd over from the UK.

    Something else to remember is that most overseas locations and some stateside (Hawaii) have stringent quarantine regulations, so be prepared to research thoroughly before you attempt to ship your pet anywhere with you.

    I love having our dog, but my one regret is that it's impossible for me to just pick up and go somewhere when DH is deployed or TDY. My non-pet owning friends hop onto flights and go home for months, go on vacations, etc., at the drop of a hat, and that's just not really an option if you don't want to ship a pet.

    This, exactly. 

  • You have gotten some good advice, so I won't repeat what other's have said. . . 

    Please, please, please, if you do get a dog (or any pet, for that matter)--be sure that you are ready to make a commitment to him/her.  It breaks my heart when I see signs on post for "free dog/cat"--reason given:  they are PCSing and can't (won't) take the animal with them.

    As a military couple/family, you KNOW that you are going to be moving.  Moving is a challenge, and even more so with a pet. . . but it is your choice to buy/adopt a pet.   

    Also, if you plan to have children, how will the dog fit into those plans?  To second what someone else said--get training for you and the dog.  When we got Smudge, he was my first dog.  He and I drove 75 miles (each way) to attend "puppy school" because it was very important to me that he have basic obedience training. (75 miles was the closest place--DH was station at Fort Irwin, in California, at the time.)

    Good luck with your decision.  You are wise to ask questions.  A pet can be a wonderful companion, but it does complicate life.

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  • imageSmudges*Mom:

    You have gotten some good advice, so I won't repeat what other's have said. . . 

    Please, please, please, if you do get a dog (or any pet, for that matter)--be sure that you are ready to make a commitment to him/her.  It breaks my heart when I see signs on post for "free dog/cat"--reason given:  they are PCSing and can't (won't) take the animal with them.

    As a military couple/family, you KNOW that you are going to be moving.  Moving is a challenge, and even more so with a pet. . . but it is your choice to buy/adopt a pet.   

    Also, if you plan to have children, how will the dog fit into those plans?  To second what someone else said--get training for you and the dog.  When we got Smudge, he was my first dog.  He and I drove 75 miles (each way) to attend "puppy school" because it was very important to me that he have basic obedience training. (75 miles was the closest place--DH was station at Fort Irwin, in California, at the time.)

    Good luck with your decision.  You are wise to ask questions.  A pet can be a wonderful companion, but it does complicate life.

    That's such a good point. Military families have a terrible reputation for being throwaway pet owners, and sadly, it's often well deserved.

    The British in particular really despise American military pet owners, and many adoption agencies wont even adopt to American personnel stationed over there anymore.

    All it takes is some planning and some responsibility, and it can easily be one of the best decisions you make :)

  • Thank you all so very much for responding! You brought up some really good points for DH and I to discuss while we make this decision. We do plan to think of our future dog as our first child (meaning we would NEVER "get rid of it"). We are taking this decision very seriously.

     Thank you! I need to start posting more often Big Smile

  • You have been given some very good advice.  Have you ever thought about fostering a dog?  That may be a great option for you.  Our 13 yr old dalmation, Belle, died a few days before Christmas last year.  We decided we weren't ready to get another dog permanantly yet, but we missed having a dog in the house.  Fostering was perfect for us.  We usually have each dog from 2-6 weeks.  We are responsible for food, treats and such, but the rescue pays all vet bills.  We take the pup out to the adoption events and any vet visits that are due.  You will have the companion you desire and you will be helping to save a life at the same time.  If you are interested, contact a rescue group that is in your area.
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  • Fostering a dog is a fantastic idea. I think I would really love that! Thanks!
  • Just wanted to add in that owning a dog overseas can be a pain when you PCS because you have a lot of paperwork to you- but it is very doable.  also if you spend money out of pocket on your dog during a PCS move you can claim it on your taxes to get your money back!!!!!!  Anyhow we have two dogs- a small and a large dog- we are in the process of PCSing from Japan back to the states.  The military gives you all the info to PCS with them and try to make it as easy as possible on you.  Regardless it is still a pain- but I think most people here in japan anyway have pets.  I would say that 90% of our friends have them. 
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