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Does the Horror of Pet PCS Keep You Down?

Our dog Gunner and his girlfriend Abby recently had puppies. In lieu of a stud fee, Abby’s owner offered us pick of the litter. When the pups were ready to venture out on their own, my family played with each one and brought home the cutest little black Labrador retriever in the entire world. We were all madly in love.

Unfortunately, we knew we wouldn’t be keeping sweet Princess Buttercup Penny Lane (can you tell I have a 5-year-old daughter?). When we first found out that Gunner was going to be a father, we loved the idea of adopting one of his offspring so he could have a playmate. But I quickly reconsidered adding another dog to our family after flashing back to visions of the last time we PCS’ed with a dog.

Ok, so maybe shipping a dog who had never been on an airplane before all the way to Japan was destined to be a awful experience, and maybe I shouldn’t let that one horrible move keep me from sharing my love with another pet. Unfortunately, anytime someone asks me about PCS’ing with a dog, all I can think about is shoving my poor 85-pound dog into a crate lined with towels, the crate we duct-taped with zipper bags filled with dog food and a note requesting that any possible handlers talk to our poor, anxiety-ridden dog.

I remember the trouble we had learning the requirements for moving a dog overseas, the debate with the vet over whether or not to drug him during the flight, the down-to-the wire last minute fear that we would have to cancel our flight because it was summertime and the temperatures were dangerously close to the maximum heat levels allowed in cargo hold where the dog would be traveling. And then there was the guilt of finally getting him through customs only to shove him back in that hateful crate for the last leg of the trip. By the time we retrieved our retriever at our final destination, I think I was just as traumatized as he was.

Even Princess Buttercup Penny Lane’s adorable puppy dog eyes couldn’t keep me from flashing forward to future PCS’es. I knew it wasn’t the right time in our military life to add a second extra large dog crate to our inventory list. I hated handing Gunner’s daughter over to a friend (yes, I promise she went to a good home), but one military brat of the pet variety is enough for me. Any more than that just adds complications to an already complicated lifestyle.

However, unlike me, it seems many military families aren’t fazed by a houseful of pets. We asked our Facebook followers how many MilPets they have, and most of the commenters had multiple pets of multiple species. Dogs, cats, fish, bunnies, guinea pigs, chickens, birds, lizards, a bearded dragon and even horses! And it sounds like these pets have traveled all over the world. Military life doesn’t slow these animals down one bit.

So MilPet owners, how many pets do you have? Does having pets make PCS’ing more difficult? Have you ever had to leave pets behind because of a PCS move?

While you’re in the commenting mood, take poll and then check out the results –  both below. We know that if there’s nothing else pet owners feel strongly about — it’s their love for their animals. We want to hear from you!

Fill out my online form.

(By the way, this is a great reference for those of you PCS’ing overseas with pets. I really could have used this 8 years ago!)

About Heather Sweeney

Heather Sweeney is a Navy wife, mother of two, military spouse blogger, canine caretaker and avid runner. She’s the blogger formerly known as Wife on the Roller Coaster and still checks in every now and then at her blog Riding the Roller Coaster.