Grumpy cats and cute dogs -- that's what the internet is really for, am I right? And that's why this Dogs on Deployment military dog of the year contest is just right.
The contest is called "military pet of the year," but by "military pet," they actually mean "military dog" (sorry, cat lovers). After all, the organization is "Dogs on Deployment." Every year they select a new military family pooch to be the pet of the year and their new mascot. And until Feb. 19 you can weigh-in on who should win.
There are currently about 20 four-legged contestants with names like "Alfred," "Bart" and "Marla Pooch." As part of their entries the dogs' owners pitch what their pets mean to them -- and why they should be the military pet of the year.
Dogs on Deployment is perhaps most well known for their program that finds foster families for dogs while their owners are deployed. But they also have an educational and advocacy function, helping with pet ownership rights for on base residents and teaching families how to care for their dogs.
To enter the sixth annual contest, dogs must be owned by an active duty service member, reservist or honorably discharged veteran.
The 2016 winner, Marine Corps pooch Belle T634, originally served as a military working dog with her now-owner Sgt. Sam Wettstein. As the winner Belle received many treats from the contests' sponsors. And because of their participation, Wettstein started training service dogs.
"Since Belle gained some attention serving as Military Pet of the Year 2016, Sam was presented with the opportunity to volunteer and train service dogs with Labs for Liberty," Wettstein and his spouse Jessica wrote in an interview with Dogs on Deployment. "This led to his work creating a program at his university, uniting Labs for Liberty and the University, and even a featured article in the Alumni Magazine. One small title of MPOTY has had such a large domino effect on our family, changing our lives for the better, and hopefully impacting others as well."