Coping

How My Dog Helps Me Survive This Crazy Military Life

Growing up and into adulthood I have always preferred to spend time with other people. As a kid my home was always filled with siblings, parents and grandparents. Then in college I was in my element living in a sorority house with 50+ other girls – no, not because we had pillow fights and gossiped all night about boys (MYTH!) – but because there was always someone around to keep me company.

Needless to say, my family and close friends were all little concerned about how I would handle living alone as deployment approached. How could I – someone prone to homesickness and seemingly terrified to be alone – fare for six months without my companion?!

Granted, I have changed a lot over the years, and like to think I’m much more independent and self-sufficient than I used to be, but without a doubt one “person” helped me survive deployment – my dog Boozer.

While I definitely utilized my Deployment Survival Plan to keep myself occupied, Boozer played a huge role in keeping my morale high during deployment. Although my husband might complain that Boozer’s discipline and training fell to the wayside during deployment — but seriously, how can you yell at that face?! – we both agree that life during deployment would have been much more difficult without my furry best friend by my side.

It is important to note that dogs aren’t necessarily for everyone and they can add additional responsibility, cost and complication to your life.  Since I don’t have any children yet, I have additional time on my hands, and my fur-baby fills that void. If you have the time and desire to have a dog too, they can make military life more bearable during deployment and beyond.

So if you’re wondering whether a dog would be a suitable companion for you, consider the following benefits:

  1. Dogs keep you busy and distracted.

Between the feedings, walks and laughing at your dog’s silly antics, time passes quickly and you stay distracted living with a pup. Also, knowing I had to come home and take care of Boozer after work gave additional purpose to my day. Someone needed me!

2. Dogs need exercise almost every day, which results in mood-lifting endorphins for you.

Exercising your dog forces you to get up, move and get more endorphins. We all know that these feel-good chemicals are natural mood-boosters that can help you avoid the deployment blues.

3. There is always a smiling face waiting for you when you get home.

No matter how crumby you might be feeling or how much you miss your spouse, you forget that for a bit once you walk in the door and your dog greets you with a hero’s homecoming. I honestly wish I got that excited about the routine things in life!

 

4. Dogs make you feel protected.

Your dog’s instinct is to react to those creepy nighttime noises or the sight of someone they don’t recognize out the window. Their reaction will make you feel much safer about living alone, even if you know deep down that an intruder would be licked to death instead of attacked. At least Boozer’s bark sounds daunting!

5. Dogs laugh at all your jokes and don’t talk back.

When you live alone with a dog, it’s inevitable that you start to have full-on conversations with them. Although the dialogue can sometimes be one-sided, your dog thinks all your jokes are funny and never argues with you. I mean, in that sense spouses might be able to learn a little bit from dogs, no?

6. Dogs make sure the other side of the bed stays warm.

Your spouse doesn’t have to worry about their side of the mattress getting cold while they’re gone because your dog fits perfectly in their spot!

7. Their reaction when your spouse finally gets home from deployment is AWESOME.

Remember how excited your dog gets when you get home from work? Multiple that response by one million. The first time your dog reunites with your spouse after deployment is epic and might make your heart explode from cuteness. It almost makes deployment worth it. (JUST KIDDING!)

Boozer and Reece’s reunion after deployment. Picture taken post-Boozer freak out.

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