Our nation depends on the courage, and commitment of those who choose to serve. Their service includes personal sacrifice affecting those they love – including their pets.

A career of military service should not preclude close personal bonds with family – two or four-legged. In fact, those close pet relationships provide something to look forward to during deployments to faraway places, and important stress relief upon their return.

To support military members facing deployment, and to reduce the need for the surrender of animals to shelters, Homeward Bound registered with Dogs on Deployment (DoD), a national 501(c)(3) non-profit connecting military service members in need with volunteers willing to foster their pets during service commitments.

And that is how we met Erin and her adorable Golden boy, Zeke.

Erin has been in the Air Force for almost five years. She has been deployed to the Middle East and Pacific Air Force bases. Stationed stateside, she brought Zeke home as an eight-week-old puppy a year ago in September 2016. Since then, they have been inseparable.

Erin taught her young charge well: he loves the water, fetch, and playing with other dogs. When he returns the ball, he’s positive that belly rubs are part of the game and offers his up before returning to the ready position.

Although a year old, Zeke is still Erin’s puppy. So she was filled with trepidation when her new deployment orders arrived: A year in South Korea at Osan Air Base.

Service members often rely on family members or each other to look after their loved ones (human or canine) while they are away.

“I was worried I wouldn’t find him the perfect home or that he would be with someone where he wouldn’t get enough exercise and attention,” says Erin. “Since my family is located in Virginia, they weren’t a viable option. My coworkers also have such an unpredictable schedule with their deployments and traveling; I didn’t want him to get moved from house to house for 12 months. I began looking at DogsOnDeployment.com and stumbled upon Homeward Bound’s listing; I instantly felt like this would be the right place for him!”

We’re fortunate at Homeward Bound to have a facility that can house Zeke. We’re also blessed to have a network of foster families. Because of Zeke’s still formative age and the length of Erin’s deployment, we are seeking a foster family from within our ranks to provide love, play, and belly rubs to Zeke in Erin’s absence. Homeward Bound will supply any medical care or special needs.

“Temporarily leaving him has made me full of sadness,” Erin tells us. “Of course, I’m curious if he will think I’m abandoning him which gets me more upset (I hope he doesn’t!).”

Can you help us provide a safe, loving foster home for Zeke to rest his head temporarily and better still – find canine companionship (and belly rubs!)? If so, email us at fostering@homewardboundgoldens.org
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With the help of technology, we’ll hope to keep Zeke connected to Erin during their separation. But as we well know – dogs can adjust – but they don’t forget.

What will Erin miss most – and what does she want for him while she is away? “I will miss everything about him. He is my best friend and makes me laugh every day (he has a lot of personality). I just hope while I’m gone he will be able to play, be loved, get belly rubs, and meet new dogs he can become friends with.”

Erin is driving Zeke to us from Idaho. They will both be joining us at Kibble & Bids this coming Saturday so we can welcome them to our Homeward Bound family, thank Erin in person for her service and sacrifice, and reassure her that Zeke will be in good hands while she is away. Let us know if you can help!