service member makes heart with fingers while facetiming

Guest Blog: Man’s Best Friend: Devotion and Deployment


Blogger Biography: Cheryle is a 10-year military spouse who has lived away from her husband longer than they’ve been under the same roof. Now that they are transitioning into the retirement stage, a whole new adventure has begun. There will soon be more time to spend at the lake, with their three children and their first grandchild. Retirement doesn’t mean you leave the military family behind because once you are a part of the military family, you are always family. Her husband’s military civilian job will keep them close to the family long after retirement.

Dogs are often referred to as “man’s best friend.” In our home, our dog’s best friend is a man…actually, two men—my son and my husband. Our border collie, named Ginger, came into our family as a gift for my son in a rather unique way.Guest Blogger Cheryle

In the very beginning of our marriage, my husband and I lived 1,200 miles apart until my children could graduate from high school. It was hard enough being separated, but let’s face it, it was just plain hard keeping an eye on what trouble my husband could get into. One afternoon he received a call from a neighbor regarding an unhealthy stray dog, and my big-hearted husband volunteered to try and bring the dog back to good health. He was so happy when this dog gained weight; only to find out later, she was pregnant! That Thanksgiving we had three new puppies on our hands. See what I mean? You leave him alone for a minute and you never know what can happen. Luckily, sometimes his mischief can be a blessing.

We easily found homes for two of the adorable puppies, and I decided to give the third one to my son. We drove 1,200 miles with a new puppy in our truck (which was quite an experience) to deliver this cute little surprise to my son. The bond that has formed between them is very heartwarming.

Photo of dogs

Due to her fierce loyalty to my son, I had no clue Ginger even knew my husband existed. I guess when my son went off to college, her affection went to the next male in the household (even though I am the one who bathed, brushed, played catch and walked her…go figure). We weren’t even aware that she had formed this attachment until my husband deployed to Afghanistan. When he walked through the door one year after he departed, I thought Ginger would have a heart attack. Her tail wagged so fast and she was SO excited; she did not calm down for hours.

I had not realized the affect my husband’s deployment had on this devoted dog. It isn’t just children, a spouse, parents and friends that have to deal with the deployment of a loved one. Your family pet can be affected as well. Now, every time he leaves for a business trip, the dogs think he will be gone forever. I find it is best to give them extra treats and play time when he’s gone to ease the separation anxiety.

There are many symptoms pets can show if they are having separation anxiety, and if they are too severe, you might want to seek a veterinarian’s advice. Below are just a few tips that may help.

  • Symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs: pacing, following you around wherever you go, trying to escape the house or yard (ours love this trick), excessive barking and destruction, and even going potty in the house.
  • Possible cures for anxiety: Punishment is never the answer for separation anxiety. Leave a piece of clothing that has your scent on it, give them lots of exercise, leave a radio on and leave appealing dog toys.
  • Symptoms of separation anxiety in cats: eating too fast, excessive grooming and going potty outside the litter box (some choose the parent’s bed to send a message).
  • Possible cures for anxiety: use puzzle feeders to entertain them, put up a cat tree and provide extra play time each day.

My husband’s deployment was over six years ago, and yet, every day when my husband walks through the front door after being gone only eight hours at work, Ginger wags her tail as fast as the day he returned from Afghanistan and gives him a cute howl of excitement that makes us all smile. Our “man’s best friend” has a man for a best friend.

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  • Those are some gorgeous pups you have. Dogs are god’s gifts to humans; they are the materialization of unconditional love.