Eighteen Military Moves for One Family and how the Dogs Helped

He walked in one day wearing his stark white uniform with medals on his chest and told me that we were moving again….for the eighteenth time!

The Navy offered my husband and our family the opportunity to experience a myriad of people, places, and things that helped us to grow, develop, and appreciate cultures and ethnicities. It was a great thing for our kids….until they became teenagers, and then they did not want to leave their friends, activities, and schools. While there were always a couple of days of resistance every time we were given the news, it was always the wagging tails and wet doggie kisses that were the unwavering constants in the equation. I cannot tell you how difficult our moves would have been without the dogs.

The dogs provided us the stability that we needed during uncertain times until we got settled in a new geographical territory. The dogs helped us to integrate into various communities where we didn’t know anyone. We had to find new schools, homes, friends, and activities, and somehow taking the dogs for a walk to get away from the moving boxes seemed to bring us dog-lovers and compassionate people who ended up being our long-time friends.

Their Dachshunds Provided the Critical Constant in Their Lives

We all knew that moving, transitions, road and plane trips, missed holidays and birthdays, and long distance relationships would be our lifestyle because that is the military way. And even though our rational minds accepted that way of life, it didn’t stop us from feeling emotions and resisting a little. Through those times, I realized how meaningful the support, love, and stability that came from our Dachshunds meant for the family. Our dogs helped us tremendously to transition in our travels and locations. They became accustomed to the military way of life as top military dogs, in my book! They displayed duty and courage in all of our moves and were always happy in their new locations.

Animals Unconditional Love Helps People to Reach Optimums

Interventions have become commonplace in the vernacular, not only in this nation, but globally as well. To optimize quality of physical health and psychological health people are searching to find the answers that will help them to achieve optimums in their lives. It doesn’t take us long to fall in love with animals and realize that it is the unconditional love they give that helps people to reach those optimums.

We figure out quickly our love for them exceeds anything beyond what we have ever felt before and how wonderfully reciprocal that special connection is. We exceedingly improve our health because they take us outside into the fresh air, and as a result our blood pressure and stress lowers and the immune system gets a huge boost. And when we are out for that walk, we bump into neighbors and other considerate people that improve our social interactions and as a result we become healthier. We have fewer doctor visits simply because family doggies contribute highly to physical and psychological health.

A sense of safety and belongingness are at the heart of human needs and the family dog can bring us just that.

Could not have Gotten Through it Without Their Doxies

As a military family who has had eighteen global moves, I truly do not think we could have gotten through those without our Dachshunds. They were military dogs who got used to moving so much and did not resist as the humans in the household. They were military dogs who were glad to get in the car and do the cross-country moves. They complained a little when they had to ride on airplanes, but they quickly forgot their turbulent airplane experiences.

Our Doxies provided us unconditional support that helped us to through two decades. The dogs provided something to care for and also served as an icebreaker in many neighborhoods. Our doggies decreased the loneliness or isolations from family and friends and provided companionship until new friends came along. They allowed our children to remain socially engaged and reduced their stress. They were constant buddies to my children when they got sick and helped them though their illnesses and I am certain that they would not have gotten through ill health if it were not for our Doxies. Our second set of Dachshunds, Ricky and Lucy.

When my husband had to go out to sea, it was a significant stressor to my children because they interpreted it as “losing their father for a few months”, and their stress levels would increase even though they understood it was his job. The dogs acted as a buffer against that stressor because the doggies made them feel protected and safe, both inside and outside.

Family Dogs Play Many Roles in the Family

A loyal family dog can play many roles in the family. The love and joy they provided us is incalculable. And now that the children are grown, our dogs continue to help them to, not only exist, but flourish. So, I say to you it is not only basic human needs that are met through loving animals, but it is much, much more — it is a matter of human flourishing!



Dr. Sujata Ives, PhD, GCDFI

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