Tails from the Front Line

Official Blog of Guardian Angels for Soldier's Pet



Post Graduate Adventures: Deycon

It’s goodbye again.

Today, for the fifth and final time I said goodbye to Deycon, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, whom I have fostered on and off for the last four years. He was the first of a few foster pups who have come to me through Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet back in August of 2010 when Mom and Dad were both deploying and needed a place for this gentle giant. Though he officially became a “Mission Accomplished” foster in 2011, he has come back to me every few months ever since.

Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet has allowed me an opportunity to give at least four military families peace of mind while serving our country and thus enriched my life beyond measure. I’ve made lifelong friends along the way and can’t imagine not continuing to volunteer. I began this incredible journey some years ago when my Navy daughter had to give up her three cats the day she deployed. Violently allergic to their dander, I could not take them for her. It tore me apart as a mother to see her tortured face and hear her weep for her kitties. That was the moment I promised that no military member would go through that if I could help it. We didn’t know about Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet at the time and like so many military members, she never heard about her beloved furry family members again. Two years later, I discovered this organization and meeting my first foster dog gave me to opportunity to keep the promise I made that day.

This colossal puppy, Deycon (pronounced as deacon) took to my family as quickly as we took to him. He and my grandson, DJ, have been almost constant companions since the day they met. DJ doesn’t call the big guy by his given, he calls him “Deyconbuddy.” One of their first pictures was my little man using Deycon as a pillow, another shows his canine pal comforting him and today they said goodbye.


Deycon has been a family member, protector, life saver and best friend. Together we have traveled around the three surrounding counties talking about Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet to spread the word as much as we can. He has made an awesome ambassador.

I work in a facility for troubled adolescents where Deycon and his (not so) little sister, Dakota, have accompanied me on a few occasions. He has gotten into his share of fixes and helped me out of mine from time to time. He has endured being dressed up for holidays and even accompanied DJ for Halloween a few times since his first year, although he has refused to wear a costume. There are times when I could see by the look on his face that he was only tolerating us and our whimsy but loves us just the same. In the years since I first met this enormous boy, his family has grown. My family has grown by the addition of him and of his family.

It’s been truly heartbreaking each time I send him home. Watching this teddy bear and his rambunctious sister bound away from me and toward their mom and dad is one of the most satisfying and painful feelings I’ve ever had. Up until today, I’ve known that sooner or later one or both of these loving furbabies will be back for a vacation or to wait for Santa Paws for a short training or deployment period. Someone once described me jokingly as a horrible foster mom: “You only lend Deycon and Dakota to their parents!” That’s because our lives have become inextricably entwined and my home is also their home.

Our adventure went on for far longer than we had expected but I wouldn’t change a minute. I laugh when his parents and their families thank me. It is I who should thank them; thank them for their service, for this opportunity and for letting me get to know their puppies and allowing me to fulfill a promise I made to three cats years ago.

I’ve said good-bye at least four times already but this morning though was a little different. Deycon and Dakota have been with me for well over a year while their folks have been in flux. Their parents had been waiting for a reassignment that has finally come to fruition. Dakota left with her dad last week for his voyage south and a few hours ago I hugged Deycon for the last time. His mom picked him up at the halfway point between our homes on the first leg of her excursion to a new assignment in a southern state too far away for return visits.

I didn’t think I’d be as distressed as I am. I was tearful for 200 miles this morning and am still a little now. I will miss those two pups and miss them a lot! They’ve become as much a part of my family as of their own. However, this is what our program is all about. Deycon and Dakota and hundreds of other military furbabies were cared for, housed, transported, loved, and sent back all across this nation to Military moms and dads who have given so much of their lives to us.

Though I will always care about these canine kiddies, they are where they belong: home and that was the whole point. So, tonight I’ll cry a little more, go through our pictures and probably find toys and bones for weeks to come. I’ll shut down his Facebook page and file away these magnificent memories, antics and tears and then smile, grateful for this quest.

Today closes a long, long chapter on one hand but on the other opens a new one and gives me the chance to thank another military family by taking care of their furchild. As I’ve said before, I’ll take down the “No Vacancy” sign outside my front door and let my state coordinator know that I’m available for another placement, another opportunity to love a pup and eventually feel a little sorrow and heartbreak when it’s over. Honestly? I can’t wait!!

-Written by Eileen, Foster Mom in New York



Post Graduate Adventures: Gunner and Deycon

Hello Pitbull and Greater Swiss Mountain Dog fans! I know it’s been a while since you’ve heard from our little pack, but here we are again. Deycon, a Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet graduate, now has a little – and I use that term lightly –  sister, Dakota. Though they are no longer an official part of our military foster home care, they are living with me for a while and for the same reasons I first met them: Mom and Dad are Army soldiers and need a place for their treasured pups to stay. Gunner, once a foster pup, is now a permanent part of our pack, just as adventurous as ever and also a graduate. Although they are technically no longer a part of the program, Deycon and Dakota are here because of my connection to this wonderful organization.This episode is from last summer, and written from Deycon’s point of view….

You know…. no matter how hard we try, Eileen just won’t learn.It’s been very hot outside so when she started filling the kiddie pool (even though she said something about a bath) we took it as the invitation it obviously was. I mean she MUST have meant it to be a water park day, right?  Gunner, Bear, Dakota and I all sat by the deck doors, eagerly waiting for her to open them and let the fun begin!! Problem is, she was only letting one of us out at a time!! We huddled up and decided to change the agenda! Good thing Bear had taught Dakota, the hyperactive puppy, how to open the door or we never would have been able to enjoy the activities together.

We plowed down the deck stairs and were all romping through the water making our favorite type of mud when Eileen swooped in and captured Bear!! She tied him to the deck and started burying him in bubbles!! We were a bit confused at first, but realized we just HAD to break him free.Dakota distracted Eileen by knocking her down…I mean…gently nudging her into a sitting position in the mud. Then Gunner and I came at her from two different sides and made a few good splashes through the pool. I did my famous Deycon pounce right by her head and, figuring she got the message, we retreated. It didn’t work. She still had Bear! He was jumping around trying to get free and come play with us, but she had him tied real tight!

It looked like she was going to win the battle…. almost. She had my foster brother lathered up with that girly shampoo while we regrouped. Kudos to Bear for taking one for the team. We must have taken too long with our battle strategy because she got hold of the hose as we were trying another sneak attack.

Pups Post Bath
Pups Post Bath

Oh no!!! She shot Gunner with the hose and then turned it on Dakota. I was too fast and made it to the back fence. Though wet and pretty worked up, Gunner managed to come at her again. She recovered quickly, aimed, and got him right in the nose! Thank goodness Dakota came in from the east and slowed the action but she was assaulted with the stream of wet stuff. Good little sister that she is, she stood firm for as long as she could. At the same time, my buddy Bear was doing the best he could to get free and take her attention off of us, but she still had him shackled to the deck. Finally I came in from the north and valiantly jumped at her, sacrificing myself for my friends. She shot me the worst! Soaked and partially sudsy, I had to pull back. OH THE SHAME OF IT!! Then just as it looked darkest, Dakota grabbed the hose and ran!! Good girl!! That was the last straw for Eileen. It took awhile and three or four battle volleys, but she finally raised the white flag and retreated! She threw her hands up in the air, tossed the foul hose off the deck, released Bear and left us alone.

She’s pretty steamed but, hey, the deck got cleaned again. We had a great time AND we’re all cooled off. You’d think by now she would have learned that she can’t defeat good team work!!

All in all, it was a pretty good day.

For those of you keeping score in the “Eileen vs the Dogs’ Bath War”….Eileen – ½ – Pups – 3.5

– Written by Eileen, Former Foster Mom in New York

Gunner’s Story: Part 3

It’s been an active two weeks around here. My first foster, Deycon and his little sister Dakota, came to visit. Having four fur babies to love was my idea of heaven but there were moments from further south as well.

Gunner and Bear must have been feeding off my excitement since they were jumping all over in the morning. I fed them, let them out and got ready to go. They both staged an attempted escape as soon as I opened the front door and I managed to get away alone.

I drove to meet Deycon’s parents in Albany. Of course, I arrived a little early and waited anxiously. When Mike and Sarah finally arrived, I could see Deycon and Dakota jumping around. It was great to see them again. We drove home and hit the dog park on the way to try to tire them out.

When the quiet Deycon and his exact opposite sister got into the house it all began. I didn’t really think I would be grateful that there is so little furniture around here. They jumped, played and moved furniture for about 2 hours. Then they collapsed on my bed, effectively evicting me from that perch. Once dinner was served, it was play time again and I finally surrendered and let them have their way.

The next morning I took Deycon to work with me as planned. He was a big hit and reached one of the boys we had thought unreachable. It was awe inspiring and truly amazing. It shouldn’t have surprised me though… I mean, he does have ME as a foster mother!!! When we got home Gunner staged an inquisition that the Tribunal of the Holy Office would have been proud of. He pounced on Deycon, sniffed, huffed and ran under him and around him. He ran to Deycon, from him, into him and over him. Gunner barked at him for a few minutes and then settled down.

The next two hours yielded three eviscerated stuffed animals, a few spilled bowls of water, my bed moved at least once and a dust cloud of flying fur. Poor Dakota didn’t like the stairs from the deck to the yard very much and ran herself silly going back and forth the length of it yapping at the boys.  I walked her on a lead across to the park and she was greeted by Gunner each time we got back.

Bear2 likes to watch the television and videos on the computer. When I play one, he usually barks and jumps at the screen from next to me. A little confused, Gunner hides under the chair and nips at Bear’s feet. This week he was unseated from this spot by Dakota. Every time I sat down to work she ran under the chair. The boys would gather around me and she took them all to task from under the chair. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was in the way and that I too had lost something. I lost  my authority and all control. She ran the boys most of the week. Gunner, though smallest in stature, is by far the strongest and if I did manage to stay seated, he would push me and the chair trying to get to the puppy.

On Tuesday I took all of them to work. Gunner and Bear kept the boys ward busy, Dakota disappeared onto the girls’ units and Deycon spent the day with his new friend. Gunner chased the boys around the pool, through the day room and out into the court yard. He attacked the basketball, almost knocked over the volley ball pole and finally passed out under my desk.

The ride home was very quiet at first. At first…… On the main thoroughfare from the facility to the Interstate, there was a check point set up by local police and the State Troopers. I really should remember that not everyone has a fur baby attachment. We crawled for a block or so and then I rolled down the driver’s window. The State Trooper checked out the registration and inspection stickers and then leaned over to talk to me. Before I could warn him of my cargo, Gunner took this move as either and introduction or a challenge. From the passenger’s seat he launched himself onto my lap, threw his head out the window and with his body across mine, he let out a volley of barks and howls. He was leaning on the horn at the same time and the 6 foot 4 inch, 280 pound serious faced trooper  in his Stetson and bullet proof vest, flew backward through the air, with a single yell…. “A DOG!”

Not to be outdone, at this particular moment, the other three riders held an impromptu body slamming contest to see who could get his or her head through the partially opened back window first and who had the loudest bark. Resigned to fact I was about to face arrest for assault on a police officer, or perhaps scaring the crap out of one, I put the car in park and didn’t even try to quiet them down. They had me better trained by that time. The trooper stood about 3 feet from the car with his left hand planted in the middle of his chest and half breathing and half panting, he coughed, “You can go, Ma’am.” Gee thanks! I took the first entrance ramp, shook my head and then almost wet my drawers laughing.

My next door neighbors all but ignore Gunner and Bear, but the four of them running around, drew a lot of attention. The girls love to come over to the fence and pet them all. Gunner reminds them periodically that he can climb the fence and loves to play tug of war. They brought their Dad over to the barrier mid week and made him ask if they could take Gunner to the park across the street. We compromised by agreeing that I would bring the pack to their baseball game the next afternoon. I should have seen it coming.

Gunner ran up and down the fence line, barking, yapping and laughing. I kept him on the lead attached to the car. Problem was that his collar was just a teenie tiny bit loose. He twisted out of it and almost tried to catch the runner between home and first. Not to be outdone, Dakota took off across the infield and stopped the game. 24 screaming 7 and 8 year old girls scattered across the diamond and finally caught Dakota. Gunner, the instigator by this time, had returned to my seat and sat there as innocent as you please. I’m waiting on the letter from the Baseball Commissioner banning me from the bleachers.

By the time the visit by D&D’s visit was over there was a huge tally: 1 king sized bed taken over, and moved in part or totally 9 times, 24 car rides, 37 new kid friends, 3 pillows, 1 doggie bed and two comforters de-fluffed, 21 stuffed animals sent to fuzzy toy heaven with at least a dozen socks. 9 chewed bones of varying weight, 15 balls of all sizes, a full bag of flying fur collected off the floor, 1 call to the vet, a slight case of “the trots.” 2 softball games, 3 T-Ball games. We went through 25 pounds of dog food, 10 pounds chicken and 14 bags of ground beef and 7 bags of vet treats. There were at 11 plastic bottles that didn’t make it to the refund machine, 7 trips to the dog park, 35 billion muddy paw prints, 9 extra loads of laundry and 3 extra dishwasher loads. I only hit the floor once, went on-the-butt down the deck steps twice and Gunner made it over the fence 3 times.

He and Bear met hens the people next door bought. Gunner almost had that chicken the last time. I know he’s strong, but I think having him live here is making me faster!  Whether I like it or not.

– Written by Eileen, Foster Mom in New York. 

Deycon’s Story: Goodbye for Now

At the crack of dawn on Monday September 19th I took one last look around the house to make sure I had all my foster fur kid’s medical records, toys, papers, medications and equipment packed and ready to go. I really hadn’t slept well the night before, and there was a bittersweet excitement in my attitude.

Deycon honestly knew that something was up. He was pouncing and barking and running around while I put all these things in the car. On Sunday night, I put on him the collar his mom and dad had sent him with. I had gotten him a bright orange one embroidered with his name and my phone number which he’d worn since he first came to stay with me. I couldn’t bear to take it off.

The gas tank had been filled the night before, and I’d had my water and snack already packed. I wandered around from room to room trying to find an excuse to call this day off. I had pondered soliciting a few of my friends to come with me because I didn’t want to say good-bye by myself. I’m glad I didn’t. In the end I needed to do this alone.

The two hour drive to the half way point where we’d agreed to meet was wonderful. The weather was perfect and every now and then there was a massive head on my shoulder just like the first ride to my home. We stopped along the way and I sat in a rest area with the big guy sitting in front of me. I hugged and snuggled and kissed my pal and told him to be good. I reminded him he would be back for Christmas but knew I couldn’t put it off any longer.

We got to the meeting place a little early and I was glad. I was able to have a few minutes with my friend and put on his red white and blue bow. (It’s the one he wore for Memorial Day when we discovered he doesn’t like marching bands!) Deycon got to stretch his legs and sniff around. I even tried out the video camera and I think I got it right this time.  (results to follow! LOL)

About 15 minutes after we arrived I looked across the parking lot and spotted Mike. I took a deep breath, held it for a second and said, “Deycon! Look! It’s Daddy!!” Deycon looked around and eventually spotted Mike. He brought his ears to attention and cocked his head as if to say, “I know this guy.”

All at once he realized who it was. He bounded off to Mike and ran around him a few times. He pranced back and forth and wagged that massive tail of his kept jumping up on his hind legs and I know he was smiling. When Mike got over to where I was, he kind of squatted down and Deycon almost knocked him over with kisses and nuzzles and whimpers. His tail didn’t stop wagging for a second. The meaning of the entire foster experience was thrust upon me when I heard Mike say, “Oh,Wow! It’s so good to see him.” That’s what this whole year has been about: this very moment. I managed not to cry.

I had been heartbroken on the entire ride there, but seeing Mike’s face and Deycon’s reaction changed that all. The colossal canine couldn’t keep still. We chatted for a bit and Mike said he had to move his truck over to us. As he walked to the other side of the parking lot, Deycon almost dislocated my shoulder pulling after his Dad. He let out those pathetic whimpering howls and watched every movement Dad made. When Mike pulled up, the joy started again. Dad opened the back of the truck and Deycon didn’t even have to be told what to do. He jumped right up and sat down so proudly.

I brought Mike up to date on vaccinations, medications, toys and made sure that Deycon was really coming back for the holidays (Otherwise, I might be wanted in 6 counties for dog-napping!!). I was humbled and actually left speechless (yes, believe it or not…) when Mike kept thanking me. No! No! It was I who needed to thank him.  I got the best part of this deal. I had Deycon! DJ has a lifelong pal, I was nurtured through the loss of Bear1 and “the D-man” made Bear2 feel like family. I cannot thank Mike and Sarah enough for picking my application and allowing me to do this. No military person should ever have to give up a fur baby, feather kid, or reptile rug rat. We owe them this small favor and Guardian Angels For Soldier’s Pet has done this for so many men and women of our armed services. I am so proud to have been part of this miracle.

I’m was further honored when Mike and Sarah asked me to foster their newest addition. The newly born sister, Dakota, who will be about 8 weeks when Deycon brings her back for Santa Paws. I laughed when I read a Facebook message that Deycon’s story was going to be put under “Mission Accomplished.” We’re not losing Deycon, we’re gaining a Dakota.

I couldn’t bear to watch them drive away so I left first. I didn’t want a gleeful Dad to see that he was leaving a hole in my world the size of ….. well, the size of a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog.

I remember clearly the day my daughter, a Navy Corpsman stationed in Virginia announced she would be deployed to Kuwait.
“Mom, what do I do with my other babies? Where are they going to go?”

That was how this saga started and now I have finally been able to do put to rest the feeling of helplessness that has been lurking in the background for all these years. Thank  you Mike and Sarah and thank you Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet.

– Written by Eileen, Foster Mom in New York.

Deycon’s Story: Going Home

Deycon Getting into Trouble

Deycon has been living with and more or less putting up with me for over a year now. Without a doubt he is the biggest puppy I have ever met. It has been my privilege and honor to be allowed to care for him all this time and I really love the giant. But, the day I’ve been dreading and at the same time hoping for has finally come. Deycon’s mom messaged me on FaceBook that his Dad is ready for the big guy to come home.

It’s been a cyclone of emotions. With each passing moment comes a memory.

First there’s the original posting from Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet in New York asking for a foster family for my buddy. I was so excited to be given the opportunity to help, I was beside myself.

I’ve been looking at the pictures of Deycon and Bear (1) when he first got here, him as DJ’s pillow and with his paw on my Little Man’s shoulder comforting him. I remember the games he and my other foster, Gia, played in and around my room and I still laugh at the look of surprise on his face when the plastic ball-type stuffing flew all over the room when he gave the toy a huge shake of his head.

The holidays were so full with a big family around the table again. DJ came back to his big friend and they fell right back into the tight friendship they had always had. DJ even helped Deycon open the package that his Grandma had asked Santa to deliver to my house. I have to laugh out loud thinking of how he teased me with the squeaker! He has such a personality!!!

Who could forget the snow antics of this giant puppy? He was jumping and playing for hours, sliding on ice, rubbing a paw raw and mocking me because of that boot! You know? I can’t find it anymore.

He taught everyone his different barks and has kept good watch over us all. He has chased a squirrel, met cows, barked at horses, darted away at tadpoles and kept me so very entertained. He has known when there was something not quite right and made sure he either tossed my hand onto him to be paid attention to or dropped every toy available onto me to divert my attention. I mean really, who can be down in the dumps with that beautiful face staring at you?

Through him, I’ve learned to keep my coffee table and night stand clear. I have learned restraint by NOT chasing him with the dreaded broom or shooting a hundred Nerf bullets across the room. I’ve found out that my lap can hold almost 250 pounds of quivering dog and to NOT feed my dogs vege based food without several exhaust fans on at once. I discovered that the cotton fluff in blankets is just as interesting as the fluff in toys, balls and dog beds. I’ve found that when Deycon is around, DJ’s Nana comes in second.

This last year Deycon has been a babysitter, overseer and protector. The massive guardian has taken care of me, my family and my grandson. He watched out for my beloved Bear1, protected him and helped me mourn his unexpected loss. He has endured being dressed up, laughed at and loved. He has been a constant companion and friend.  He has hidden in a closet, barked at my dryer stunt and quietly watched as my own fire department helped me out of a tree. He has withstood being ambushed, ridden and cuddled. He even went Trick or Treating without the benefit of getting any candy. DJ reminded him that candy is for REAL kids and doggies have their own. He has been on car rides to nowhere, met Great Grandma, gone to dog parks, to work with me, to my friends’ homes and to street fairs. He welcomed Bear2 and our newest puppy, Momma. He saved my sanity and my grandson’s life.

My buddy has laughed at me when the raccoon was on my bed and was annoyed when I declined to let him meet the skunk. I’ve hugged him, tripped over him and worn him on a few occasions. He has become a part of my family.

He has learned that stink bugs don’t taste good, that peanut butter sticks to the roof of your mouth and that PetCo has a great security system.  He’s said goodbye to Teddy White, the famous caterpillar, countless balls, squeakers and a doll or two. We all learned that he’s allergic to bees and that Benadryl works on canines as well as people. He has met dozens of friends, the local State Police and the best Veterinary staff ever.

Deycon Last Christmas

This mountain of love has won the hearts of almost 1000 people on FaceBook who have been sending us congratulations and best wishes by the hundreds. He has touched the hearts of scores of neighbors, a few dozen friends and family members and just about everyone who sees him.  This time tomorrow, Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet will have another success story and we can all be proud that Deycon’s Mom and Dad are who they are and do what they do for us.

In less than a day, when I watch him pounce on his Dad, as I know he will, I will be so sorry and so happy at the same time. I know he’ll be back in a few months and (all 4 paws and ten fingers crossed) he’ll be bringing a sister. But still with a heavy heart, I can’t help thinking I’ll be watching a chapter of my life close. I love you, big buddy, see you at Christmas.

– Written by Eileen, Foster Mom in New York.


Deycon’s Story: End of Summer

If you’ve followed these blog posts, you’ll know what a personality Deycon has. He has adapted to many changing situations around here as well as relocating from his parents home to mine. Now he’s become part of a pack.


He and Bear2 have become wrestling partners, buddies and friends. When Deycon came to my home, his mom had warned me that he was a “toy thief.” In Bear2 he has met his match. There isn’t a day that goes by that one or the other is teasing the foster brother with a stuffed animal, ball or toy. Thankfully, almost all of the squeakers have been disabled but we’ve begun accumulating that white fuzz all over the house again. My grandson DJ is usually right in the middle of it. Have you ever seen a 3-way tug of war? Deycon moans, Bear2 growls and DJ squeals!

The three amigos spent the latter part of the summer in and out of a small child’s pool. At first I had it in the back yard away from the house and partially under a tree: half shade and half sun. With the three of them in and out of it most of the time, it was filled and refilled daily. The problem is that the water, of course, settled around the base of the pool making mud. Now Deycon is dignified (and well trained) and he would never jump on the furniture. Bear2 is another story…. He has absolutely no qualms about running up the deck stairs through the screen door and across my bed. He has left paw prints on the sheets, comforter and bed spreads.

On the third day of changing linens, I decided to put the pool back on the deck outside my bedroom door. I knew there would be no getting away from pawprints, but at least they weren’t muddy any more.

At one point in the summer Deycon was in the yard and jumped and sniffed at his left rear leg. I didn’t think much of it because running my hand over the area, I found nothing. I’m not sure what it was, but about an hour later, he came to me and looked like a Greater Swiss Mountain Shar Pei! His face was all swollen and his eyes were barely open. We hopped into the car and made a visit to Otterkill Animal Hospital where, I swear, he was embarrassed and wouldn’t look at anyone. We were, after all, laughing at how he looked. A dose of cortisone and two doses of Benadryl later and our boy was fine. The staff are amazing and called a few times to make sure he was okay. They felt it might have been a bee sting even though I found nothing on his leg.  Whatever it was I do keep a supply of Benadryl around the house now.

Our twice weekly outing to the dog park continues and I still take every opportunity to talk about Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet as much as I can. Deycon is a great advertisement inasmuch as he’s a huge placid pal. I have to say that his behavior reflects so much on his mom and dad. He’s kind, patient, and so full of love.

Late last month, we visited our vet and, of course Deycon garnered all the attention he could. DJ was with us as the Dr. examined and vaccinated Deycon, which didn’t bother him. Deycon was great but got a little fussy when the vet was clipping his nails. DJ was a typical over active 3 year old right up until that point. All at once his hands went into his pockets and he sat in the corner.

“What’s the matter DJ?” asked Dr. Zgoda.

With wide eyes and hidden hands he said, “Nothing. I just don’t want  you to cut MY nails.” It was very hard NOT to use that as a behavioral modification phrase after that.

Both dogs are so playful, but gentle with My Little Man DJ. They run around the house, play with toys, pots, pans, laundry, whatever they can find. The playful growls, howls and laughs make every day bright. I always hear people telling storied of “hero dogs” but Deycon and Bear2 will be my heroes for a long time to come. I was sitting on the deck, which is 9 steps above the yard, while DJ and the dogs were playing. DJ went near the compost pile and several things happened all at once: DJ screamed, Deycon launched himself at DJ, Bear jumped straight up in the air and both dogs began growling at DJ and pushed him. Deycon barked and Bear ran to me as DJ was screaming. It shocked me so thoroughly since neither dog had EVER shown any aggression and especially not near DJ. I’d seen him pull their ears and poke at them and they never reacted negatively.

I heard DJ’s high pitched yell again as I flew down the stairs and grabbed him only to see bees flying around us. Bear and Deycon were both covered in the insects and I’m talking 30 or 40, but were standing between DJ and the compost pile. It seems DJ disturbed their nest and the bees were swarming. I wrapped DJ in my arms and we ran for the deck. I literally ripped his clothes off and got the insects off him. Deycon and Bear were hovering over the screaming child, barking and nuzzling him. I swept the attackers off them and we all headed into the house. DJ was almost inconsolable and both dogs were still barking and upset. Getting them all calmed down was a bit hairy, but I realized the dogs were anxious about DJ. After a bath and Benadryl all around, DJ fell asleep. Deycon stayed right with him and the whole time there was a slight moaning noise coming from deep in the big guy. Bear2 gave a slow rumbling growl every time I went near DJ to check on him.

Bear had a few welts on him and I had expected another emergency trip to the vet for Deycon, but that didn’t happen. Those two dogs knew their “pup” was in trouble and protected him. Deycon stayed with DJ and Bear2 came running to get me. No one is ever going to convince me otherwise.

In case you didn’t know, LOL!! We had a rough couple of weeks here in New York. First we had an earthquake that left both pups quite shaken up. While we didn’t suffer any physical damage, but those two fierce looking imposing appearing canines ran so fast and so hard it was worse than the quake itself. Deycon jumped onto my lap, Bear tried to get under the bed, behind the couch and then practically went through the bathroom door to finally end up in the tub. It shook me up a bit too, but it was over quickly and they calmed down eventually.

I was scheduled to fly to Florida to bring DJ back to his mother and have a vacation at the end of August. Now I’m not sure if anyone heard about it, but we had a hurricane here on the east coast. Irene was due to hit New York two days after I was to land in Florida. We got the house pretty well storm proofed and my sons were prepared to evacuate and take the dogs to safety. I brought the deck furniture and grills into the house and the furniture went under the deck. I know some people think that animals are oblivious, but Deycon is so very aware of everything. He could sense our anxiety and stuck right by me and DJ for the week before we left.

DJ and I flew over Irene while she was pelting the Carolinas and we had gorgeous weather on Florida. My mind, however was in New York. I called and texted so often that my boys were a bit annoyed. More than once they said laughingly, Yes mom the dogs are fine…. By the way, we are too. Although the dogs completely despised the weather and all the wind and thunder, they made it through like champs. The house however, well…. It could have been worse. I decided to leave the water in the basement and just tout it as an indoor pools when I go to sell the house.

Though his mom says it’s the nature of the breed to be gentle, I think Deycon is especially sensitive. Last weekend a few of my boys went camping and were on a site next to some less than attentive people. They had with them a small 3 month old golden haired puppy. They neglected the little girl for most of the week and she was scrounging around for food and attention. During one of their “parties” James asked if he could have the puppy. I’m still not quite sure what the answer was, but “Momma” lives with us now. Bear2 plays way too rough, so they don’t spend too much time together. Deycon, however is a comical site when she’s around. He sniffs at her, does his famous pounce and practically dances for her. She sits and watches him patiently with her pointed ears at attention. It’s plain to see he wants to play. She will walk over to him and let out a yip and startles the giant. Then it’s game on! When he’s close to her, she will chase him. If he backs away, she launches at him. If he’s close enough, she bats him with her front paws like a cat. It is so clear that he’s not quite sure what to do. He has Bear2 in height and weight, but this little one is only about 6 pounds and thinks she’s his size. He will slap the floor near her, bark at her and moan his high pitched wail but never touches her other than to nudge her with his huge nose. Deycon’s mom mentioned that they are thinking about getting him a sister. I’m glad she will be the same breed, he needs someone his own size.

I got a note that Deycon’s Dad arrived back home a week or so ago and we’re waiting on the word that the house and yard have been Deycon-ized. Friends of ours and FaceBook Deycon fans have all been asking what I’m going to do when my constant companion goes home.

Actually… I don’t know.

– Written by Eileen, current Foster Mom in New York.

Deycon’s Story: He’s a Funny Guy (part 2)

Deycon and my grandson, DJ, continue to be inseparable and getting into all kinds of 4 year old situations.  I spend most of my days laughing and smiling at what goes on around here. As I’ve posted here and on Deycon’s page, “It’s a circus, I tell you. A circus!”

A few weeks ago, I found out about a 2 year old Rottweiler that had been surrendered because his Marine dad was deployed and couldn’t find anyone who could take the dog. If you’ve read Deycon’s entire story, you’ll know that it was for this reason I became active in Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet in the first place. I had to watch my daughter bring her 3 cats to a shelter the day before her deployment because she couldn’t find anyone to take them. I am extremely allergic to cats so them coming home with me was out of the question. The look on her face and the pain she was going through made me silently promise that if I could help, no military person would go through that.

Although I didn’t have his permission before, I do now. It was my vet who called me to tell me about an ad he had seen on Craigslist about this dog and his situation.

I immediately contacted the shelter, got a huge run around, was secretly given info by a worker, tracked “Max” through 3 states, 5 shelters and 4 counties in New York.  I made about 25 calls, sent a dozen emails, lied, threatened and made a general pest out of myself until I was able to track him down. He was now in a shelter in Pennsylvania and it was Friday afternoon. They required a $100 hold fee so that I could go see him on Monday. My vet paid the fee.

Deycon and I finally met him on Monday. I had expected to find a raucous Rottie and instead found a depressed, scared 2 year old who had lost so much weight, his ribs were showing. The shelter required that Deycon and Max meet to see if they were compatible. I left the two pups with a worker to go post our literature on their bulletin board and give them info should this situation arise again at the point where we could help. I returned to find Max cleaning Deycon’s face and the two of them getting along just fine. Another visit the next day was successful and on June 30th I brought Max home. His adoption fee had been paid by my veterinarian and office staff who are staunch supporters of what we do.

I contacted as many Marine organizations as possible to find his dad. I was told I’d need a name, and his assignment. My daughter, a Navy Corpsman in Camp LeJeune, suggested I contact the Chaplain’s office. A worker from the original shelter had slipped me the chip card on the dog. My vet retrieved the info and we found that “Max” was really named Bear and that he had a grandmother in the Mid-west. I contacted her to let her know about Guardian Angels and to see if I could find his Marine through her. When she finally got back to me, she said that Jesse, her son, was going to be gone for about 2 years and was planning to deploy again soon after that. She had been trying to find the dog so that she could arrange to have him shipped to her to stay with a friend of Jesse’s. I assured her that Bear had a permanent or foster home and asked her to contact her son and let him know. In an ironic twist I was rescued by my own Bear a few years ago. HIS original name was Max and changed to Bear by the shelter. Now I had a Bear whose name was changed to Max: a sign to me that this was meant to be.

On Deycon’s page a fan suggested that we hold a contest to give Bear/Max a more permanent name. The winner was Lord Jesse Deycon Bearington and that is how he is registered with the town on his license.

Sometime later, Bear’s grandmother emailed me to say that she had Skyed with Jesse. She told me he was crying , overcome and so relieved that Bear had found a home. I emailed Guardian Angels’ info to both of them. Jesse wrote back that he would definitely spread the word about our organization and what we do.

Deycon and Bear II did the usual wary behavior around each other. They lived side by side for a day or so and now can be found rolling around any room in my house. The hard wood floors have a fine layer of dog hair that gets swept every day and they play long and hard.

The Fourth of July was an interesting few days. Bear II had kind of adopted one of my sons, James. He spent most of his time with James and his girlfriend and slept outside their door.  On Saturday, the second of July, my village celebrated with a festival in the park across the street. I should have known, but it just didn’t register until the first huge explosion at 9:30 that night.

If you’ve read these blog entries, you know that thunder and my straw broom are pretty scary. Well, they are NOTHING compared to fireworks. Bear was in James’ room and Deycon, as always, was attached to me. All at once the boom went off, Deycon jumped up into my lap, Bear ran through the house, up onto my bed across it and back to me and Deycon. They were both trembling and crying. Each was attempting to either sit on me or get under some piece of furniture. Deycon had my lap occupied and Bear was frantically jumping on us, behind us or under my feet. I’m so sorry, but I was laughing so hard I was of little help to either of them. I finally got Deycon onto the floor and laying half under the bed and was petting and reassuring him when I realized I couldn’t find Bear II. I searched around for a bit and finally found him hiding in my bathtub. I know it may sound cruel but the sight of two dogs with a combined weight of about 200 pounds, who growl and bark fiercely at anyone who even dares to pass the house, give off an imposing image and are protective of anyone who livers here, laying under furniture and in a tub trembling because of a few loud noises was just the funniest thing I’ve ever seen.

On Deycon’s Public Figure Facebook page a few of his fans recommended a Thundershirt. I bought one for each of them and I hope that next week’s predicted thunderstorms are easier to handle because of the shirts.

Okay, so now the part I have been hoping to avoid for almost a year. In a few weeks Deycon’s dad is due to return. I am so happy that he will be back with his mom and dad and feel honored to have been trusted with their fur child. I know they desperately miss their pup and keep up with him through me and his page. However, it is also a day I am completely dreading.

As you can tell, Deycon has become an adored part of my family. I love this big guy so much. I look forward to watching his puppy antics, the expressions on his face, how he loves my grandson and his silent understanding when I’m not feeling right. He has come on trips with me, gone to work with me, prances each time we go to the dog park and is the gentlest giant I have ever met. He’s protective of my grandson DJ, gently plays with my little man and always whispers his secrets into DJ’s ear, especially when he wants DJ to have an extra cookie or to stay up late. I’ve watched DJ sleep with and sometimes on him. Whenever DJ is visiting someone, he calls here, not to say goodnight or talk to me, he calls to talk to Deycon. He knows Deycon can’t talk, but “he can listen, Nana.”

When I’ve had rough times, not feeling well or just not myself, Deycon is almost human and knows. He was especially amazing when Bear The First crossed the Rainbow Bridge. He just won’t let me be upset and either deposits his toys on my lap or bed or he flips my arm onto him to be pet or held. He’s dragged his bed next to mine, sniffed my face until I wake up and kept my boys pretty busy. He has endured being dressed up, teased with a broom and shot at with hundreds of Nerf bullets. He made “friends” with the squirrel that lives nearby and almost met a skunk. He has investigated some of the wildlife around here and tried to tell me there was a raccoon on my bed, but didn’t quite know how. Deycon has developed a loyal Facebook following of almost 700 people, organizations and fellow furbabies. He’s been mischievous, loving, protective and a general clown at times. It’s hard NOT to love him. He is a puppy and will always be a puppy no matter how old he gets.

Next month, I will be saying good-bye to him and watching him run to his dad’s arms. That is a reward that cannot be equaled. I sleep knowing that his mom and dad have one less worry on their mind while they are doing what they believe is right and what I can only imagine. They are half a world away, in some pretty horrendous surroundings and are literally laying their lives on the line for us. There are moments when taking care of Deycon seems too small compared to what they are doing.

Even at this moment with tears in my eyes and a little ache in my heart, I know that he will finally be back “HOME.” And that’s where he truly belongs. Not only will he be taking his big bed, a few squeaky toys and one “pawlifted” caterpillar with him when he goes, he’ll be taking a piece of my heart.

 – Written by Eileen, Foster Mom in New York.

Deycon’s Story: Warmer Weather

Our regular trips to the dog park continue and now include DJ. My grandson will run the dog agility course, all the time calling to Deycon and encouraging him to join in. Ever patient, Deycon walks beside DJ with his ears at attention, looking puzzled and just watches the little guy. DJ loves making Deycon run after him and it tires them both out.

Last week we had a fierce thunderstorm pass over us. We were in the yard when the sky darkened and the hail started to fall. Trying to get DJ up the stairs was comical. Deycon, of course, made the 9 steps in 2 leaps and stood watching us. The thunder started and shook the house. The wind was blowing so hard that there was debris flying all over. Once inside, Deycon kept trying to get into my lap. At 130 shaking pounds, it’s pretty difficult to do, but he kept trying. I happened to notice a branch come down on the top of the picnic table outside my bedroom doors. I opened the door, ran out, moved it and turned just in time to see Deycon lay up against the door, locking me on the deck. By the time I bolted to the other door I was soaked to the skin. Who knew such an adorable puppy could be such an imp!!

The nerf war had quieted down for a while, but now that college is out for the summer, the human boys have too much time on their hands. Without even wondering, they now go right to my room to check Deycon’s bed and then under the futon in the sitting room for the missing sponge projectiles. They have the baby in on it as well now. With his own nerf gun, usually with no ammunition, wearing his bike helmet, DJ hides under the futon to defend Deycon. Although the house is sometimes more active that a circus, it’s also just as fun.

DJ and I watched The Wizard of Oz and at the scary parts with the witch, he ran over to jump and hide behind Deycon. After it was over and Dorothy made it home safely, we were dancing around and playing. Out of the blue, one of my sons walked past and threw a cup of water in my face. I stood in shock and disbelief, as Deycon, ever helpful, started lapping at the water.

My pride and joy looked at his nephew and said, “Wow, DJ. She’s not melting. I guess that water thing only works in the Emerald City.” When I recovered, that son took off with DJ and Deycon chasing behind him, barely made it to the stairs before I reached him and got away. A raucous run jump and play game ensued. Deycon was batting the plastic cup around, DJ was chasing him, water all over the sitting room and I changed my clothes.

When DJ was younger we had a game where, when washing the dishes, I would shake my wet hands at him and sprinkle water on him. A few days ago, it warmed a Nana’s heart to see he was playing “our” game with Deycon. Each time DJ flapped his hands Deycon would jump and run away. After 3 or 4 rounds I noticed that Deycon actually had droplets of water on his coat. I was a little puzzled until I realized there is only one place low enough for DJ to get water from……. I’ll let that sink in for a minute. After popping DJ into the tub, and sanitizing the floor, I attempted to give Deycon his own wash down. I don’t really need to go into details, but ALL of us were wet and sudsy in a very short time. I keep the bathroom door locked now.

Deycon had a well puppy visit to the vet for the summer months. The staff at the office loves him and always remarks about how well behaved he is. I know his mom and dad spent a long time on that behavior and it shows. They love how he talks to them and needs to investigate every inch of the examining room. He adores the attention, but not that elevating table. He takes his treats and all their affection as though it’s due him. The staff is great and I made sure to thank them for their attention and compassion the last time I brought Bear in. The doctor has been treating my animals for about 20 years and doesn’t charge Deycon the examination fee because he’s a military dog. I was overwhelmed when I got a letter from The Cornell University Veterinarian School recently. Without my knowing it, the vet had made a donation to the college in Bear’s memory. They’ve also agreed to post information about Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet on their bulletin board and make sure their other military patients know about the program.

One of Deycon’s Facebook fur friends from Brazil hasn’t been feeling too well. Snoco’s foster mom, “she”, has asked all the fur friends to send her a card so she can make a book and send the get well wishes. I put together a picture of DJ using Deycon as a pillow similar to the one on the Guardian Angels’ website, and some get well wishes and emailed it to Snoco. I explained to DJ what I was doing and he insisted that he make his own card. He lay on the floor, called Deycon and explained what they had to do. We found out that Deycon can’t hold markers in his paws or his mouth and really has no interest in coloring a picture. We also found out that if you leave the glue you’re using to mount macaroni laying around, it can get stuck to his foot and he’ll run if you chase him to take it off.

With the hot weather now thrust upon us, I bought DJ a small plastic pool. It’s about 4 feet across and I put about 8 inches of water in it. He plays around in it for hours. Funny part is that so does Deycon. They will chase each other around the yard, through the pool, back across the yard over and over. In short order the pool needs to be refilled so they can start again. Although it’s one of the smallest that Toys R Us had, it’s just big enough for the big guy to lay down it. Another reason it needs to be refilled often. Water sprays for yards when the pup shakes and everyone gets a shower. It’s a circus, I tell you… a circus! Truth be told, I wouldn’t have it any other way!!

– Written by Eileen, Foster Mom in New York.

Deycon’s Story: He’s a Funny Guy

Deycon continues to keep us entertained with his daily routines. He is awake and in my face between 7:00am and 7:15am every morning. I try to ignore the sniffing and huffing but sometimes it’s too hard and I just give in. First is the breakfast bowl. He doesn’t eat right away, just inspects what’s on the menu. Then it’s out to the yard. Run around twice at least, glancing to make sure I’m still on the deck, and then after barking at anything, and more likely nothing, he bounds up the stairs and goes to eat.

There are times when he’s skittish and it’s humorous when you understand how big he is. There are other times when he’s completely patient. Anyone who follows his FaceBook page knows I get myself into some strange situations. Well, on Mother’s Day, I decided to put up a clothes line since the dryer was no longer working. Putting the first hook into the post on the deck was a piece of cake. The opposite end was not so easy. I used the 6 foot ladder to get up the tree, then climbed several feet higher. Mission accomplished and the second hook was set. The ladder, on the other hand, had fallen and I was stuck. My lovely, devoted, and caring sons (the same ones who attacked me with Nerf guns) said they couldn’t help me, were hurting themselves laughing and called my own fire department for help. (They were blessed with my sense of humor.) Since the call went out as “member of service needs assistance. Unknown situation.” I got the full battalion of help: Village Police, Town Police, private cars, the Rescue Truck and the Engine. After the initial ribbing I took from my fellow volunteers, they waited until one of them could go back to the firehouse and get a video camera to commemorate the occasion. All the while Deycon sat in one place in the yard, ears at attention, just watching the drama unfold: no jumping no cowering and not moving at all. 20 strangers didn’t bother him a bit and he managed to get them to fall in love with him. What’s not to love?

We keep adding to his list of likes, loves and hates. Among the likes and loves is the dog park, pouncing and playing. He has an assortment of stuffed animals and toys. If I am busy or, Heaven forbid, sleeping and he wants to play, he throws the toys and waits for me to play. A week or so ago, he had the now famous caterpillar from PetCo and was tossing it around. Toss and wait watching me. Toss and wait. The last toss I caught through the corner of my eye. It went straight up and landed back on his head. He jumped like a kangaroo and ran! I laughed even harder when he came back. He approached the stuffed toy like a wolf hunting down a chicken. Slow, slow, sniff, sniff, slow…. I had such an urge to make a loud noise, but I knew he might run into something.

Among the hates is, of course, the broom, thunder and fireworks, but on Memorial Day we found another one. I dressed him up in a flag bow tie and we went to the driveway to watch the parade. All the people in cars and walking pointed to him and his bow tie and waved and smiled. He barked back and pranced around. Then came the bands! That was NOT fun….. Deycon can take “Drag Eileen to the back gate to get away from the noise” off his to do list. The ever supportive sons, were rolling around laughing and said that they had told me not to put him on a lead….. Monday morning quarterbacks all of them. The bruise on my right shoulder from hitting the shed is fading.

His bed was getting really well worn so I ordered a new pad to go into it. I guess I should have measured. I have a 58 inch pad and a 46 inch bed. Well now he has two places to sleep and drag around or slide onto. We have this game where I call his name and make a fast move with my hand or foot. He’ll pounce, run around my bed, into the sitting room, through the kitchen, down the mud room hall and back. When he gets to the bedroom he jumps onto his bed and waits. Then we start it all over again. Sometimes I move his bed away from the wall and when he jumps onto it, he slides a bit! Hysterical! Apologies to his Mom and Dad.

My grandson came back to me this weekend and walked into the house as though he had left only an hour ago. Waving over his shoulder, he walked past me and said, “Hi, Nana. Where’s Bear?” I told him Bear went to live with God and he started crying. He said he wanted to say good-bye. Then I told him Deycon was still here and called to the big guy. He came bounding up the stairs and knocked DJ on his keister. That caused all kinds of laughing and playing. DJ stood up and told Deycon that they have to play like big boys now since they’re both almost 4. I have no idea what that means and to be perfectly honest, I’m scared.

That night DJ pulled the two dog beds together, set his pillow on the new mattress and slept next to Deycon. He loves the big guy and they wrestle a lot. I can tell Deycon is being so gentle. He runs into me and bats at my legs when we play, but with DJ he doesn’t even go up on his hind legs.  He spends a lot of time on his back rolled over and pawing up at my grandson.

Early the next morning, I dropped a small folding wooden table on my right big toe. I couldn’t talk for a few seconds because I was afraid that words with only 4 letters would spew forth. The swelling and bruising started almost right away. Isn’t it funny how when you have a sore toe, that it’s the only place anyone steps near? Deycon must have stepped on it a dozen times that day and DJ ran over it once or twice. Then DJ tried to get Deycon to kiss the boo boo to make it all better. You have to love it! Poor Deycon had no idea why DJ was on the floor trying to drag him to my foot.

Later that afternoon, I saw Deycon’s protective side again. He and DJ were playing in the yard when all at once Deycon came to attention and stepped in front of my little man. He growled and stepped toward the approaching male. I guess we should have told Deycon that DJ’s dad was coming to visit!

Everyone who has ever had children knows that the best part of any present is the box. I have a box that two down comforters came in and DJ loves it. For most of the day, he was hiding IN the box and we were pretending that he was lost and then were so relieved when he jumped out…. over and over and over. Then my son Brian got lost by staying UNDER it. When he jumped up DJ let out a screech and had a potty accident. It was then his turn to try it on Deycon.  Two or three times he was under the box and jumped up at Deycon and startled him. Then Deycon got the idea. DJ was calling him and calling him…. so Deycon swatted the box off DJ and there was another screech of laughter. The final stroke was when the little guy tried again and Deycon went over and just laid down on the extended flap preventing the baby from throwing the box off. You can only fool this big guy just so many times.  

– Written by Eileen, Foster Mom in New York.

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