There are a few things you should know before you get a dog during military life.
Speaking from personal experience and a few shockers, here are a few things I didn’t know or considered when I decided to get a dog or two.
As a military family, you’re going to move. Paying for your pet to move with your family adds additional costs. We got two dogs while living in Japan, but that also meant that we had to fly two dogs back to the U.S.
There are also extra expenses when flying a pet from the U.S. to your OCONUS duty station. There’s airfare, crate, required tests, quarantine, etc. These expenses can add up quickly.
Housing and Breed Restrictions
Military housing doesn’t accept all breeds. And some countries do not allow certain dog breeds into their country. It’s important to know these restrictions before you decide to get a dog. I know families who had to leave their dogs with family or friends because of this.
Having a dog can also limit options when renting off base housing. Some landlords restrict specific breeds and sizes. Some may require a non-refundable pet deposit or charge an extra amount in rent, known as “a pet rent fee.”
It’s a Responsibility
No matter if you get a dog as a civilian or as a military family, it comes with loads of responsibilities. The plan may be for you and your active duty spouse to divide the duties of walking, training, and generally care for the dog. BUT…remember. Your spouse’s schedule may be unpredictable. Be prepared to be the primary one taking care of the new dog.
Your Dog May Need Time to Adjust
PCSing for your dog can be stressful. Your dog may need time to adjust to changes. When movers come in, as you packout, as you move into your new home, your dog may act out or have accidents. It’s normal. Be patient. Things will get back to normal.
Your Deployed Spouse will find out
We laugh about this now, but it wasn’t so funny at the moment. The kids and I decided to get a dog while hubby was deployed. He’s not a dog guy and always said that he did NOT and would NOT have a dog. Well, there was this one time, he came home and we had dogs. He had lots of questions. My response, “we’re dog sitting.” Weeks went by and he asked who owned the dogs and when they were coming back. Yeah, it got really interesting.
We ended up rehoming one of the dogs because we were making another OCONUS move (had no plans to do another OCONUS move after the 1st to Japan). The flight was really hard on one of the dogs. So we made the tough decision to rehome him because I feared he would die during the fight. Our other dog, Carlos, doesn’t give a darn about anything. Although my husband was ready to lose his mind when he found out about Carlos, they are now best buds. Weekend bacon just for Carlos.
Getting a dog is a big decision. Getting a dog as a military family adds a few other obstacles to consider. Take a moment to write the pros and cons when it comes to adding a dog to your family.