After people found out we were moving overseas one of the first questions to pop up was if we were taking our dog. The answer to that question was a no-brainer for us, “Yes, of course!” While we don’t think of her as our child (that’s a different post for another day), we do consider her very much part of our family.
We picked Bella up from a shelter the week after we got married. It was love at first sight and even though I was initially overwhelmed with owning a puppy, it turned out to be the best decision. My husband deployed a mere two months after we tied the knot, so I was left—newly married—in a new town with minimal friends and a dog. It turns out that having her by my side was a blessing in disguise.
At the time I was freelancing from home, so the only physical connection I had with people was if I went to the store or the gym. I started a routine of taking Bella for a walk in the morning and at night, and I eventually started seeing and meeting more people from around our neighborhood. She loves going on walks, so she could release all her built up energy and it helped me get outside at least once a day instead of becoming a hermit inside my own home. It was a win/win situation and I looked forward to our daily walks.
We all know that nights are the worst during a deployment. Your house and surroundings seem to come alive in the shadows and take on a completely different vibe. When we adopted Bella we made a rule that she would not sleep on our bed. I was adamant about being strong and keeping my word, but after hearing noises that can only be described as horrifying, I quickly called her and begged her to take over my husband’s spot. She happily obliged and slept by my side the entire deployment.
This next part may sound silly, I became that person who had full conversations with her dog. (Don’t worry; she never talked back.) I was lonely and missed my partner, but having Bella there to talk to made things seem less lonely. Before you start thinking that all I did was stay home and have long, drawn out conversations with my dog, think again. I started making more friends and getting out more, but you can only linger at a friend’s house before you have to go back to your empty home.
Dogs may be “man’s best friend,” but Bella certainly became my companion during those months. So when we got orders for our OCONUS move we immediately took the proper steps (i.e. filling out lots of paperwork and making sure she didn't get packed) so she could come with us.
The journey over here was fine for her. She successfully went on her first road trip where she wooed the staff at every pet-friendly hotel we stayed at, and then for the trip overseas she flew in the cargo area of the plane while we sat up top. Our house has an ample-sized yard for her to run and play in, and we regularly take her on walks. It turns out Italians love dogs, so I get to practice my Italian with them and Bella gets to meet other dogs and people who do nothing but love on her. I’ve even met several American friends because of the walks we take.
She’s been with us for two deployments and we’re about to embark on our third. While she’ll miss my husband — last time around she was noticeably sad and perked up whenever I said his name—I know she’ll perform her puppy duties admirably and continue to stay by my side. Granted, we don’t have any children, but right now I literally don’t know how I’d get through deployments without her.
What about you, do you have a pup that sticks with you through thick and thin?