Recently, we received an email from Julia Terpak, a soon-to-be deployed soldier, who asks, “The stress of leaving my four-legged baby is horrid on myself, and thousands of other Soldiers in the same boat. One thing Cesar never touched on… is how to prep your dog for (you) leaving for long periods of time?”
“The important part to remember is that dogs do not keep track of time. They live in the moment, so don’t worry about that. What is important is how you leave. That energy will affect your dog’s association with your departure. You want to say good-bye with positive energy and happy emotions. This will keep your dog from becoming anxious or insecure.
The other important thing is that you find caretakers for your dog that you trust one hundred percent, and they must understand that it is their job to challenge your dog every day, physically and mentally, through exercise and discipline. Depending upon the breed, they can also challenge your dog’s mind by giving him or her an appropriate job. For example, play fetch with retrievers, give agility training to herding dogs, or use a backpack on working dogs like huskies.
I would also like to add a big “Thank you” to our men and women in uniform for all that you do for our pack. God bless and stay calm and assertive.
There are several organizations that help find foster homes for the dogs of soldiers on deployment, including Dogs on Deployment and Soldier’s Angels. Please let us know in the comments of other organizations doing this kind of work, or your experiences with them.