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Pets are welcome additition during deployment
Notes from an almost-military wife
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This weekend, my fiance and I welcomed a new addition to our household. She has beautiful brown hair and weighs eight pounds. We named her Dora, after the cartoon character Dora the Explorer, because of her curious nature. We took Dora for her first visit to the doctor. She was given a clean bill of health, and we were told to keep an eye out for hairballs.
Dora is a cat.
We had been talking about adopting a pet for months, and now that we’re settled into a pet-friendly apartment complex, the timing seemed right. When Dora purred and rubbed against our legs at the humane society adoption center, we were hooked. We took her home, and she fit right in.
I have to admit, my motives for adopting a cat were not purely unselfish. As a military spouse (or almost-spouse in my case) without kids, home can be a pretty lonely place when my guy’s away. The quietness can be deafening, and the television and radio, though distracting, can never quite fill the role of an actual warm body.
That’s where the cat comes in.  I’m not saying that cats are equal substitutes for your significant other (even if they are sometimes better groomed).  But, if you’ve ever owned a pet, you’ve no doubt experienced the comfort that comes from a wagging tail or a purring ball of fur greeting you at the door at the end of a long day. And for a military spouse coming home to an empty house, one bark or meow can warm up an otherwise silent evening.  
Don’t think I’m crazy, but with my fiance away, I often find myself chatting to the cat as I prepare dinner and go about my daily routine.  She may not understand what I’m saying, but she gives an understanding “meow” every now and then.
Adopting a pet is just one  positive way to deal with the stress of deployments and separations. Caring for an animal forces us to keep a certain element of routine and normalcy in our lives during times that may seem anything but, and attending to their needs can help us forget our own stress while we focus on the animal’s well-being.
To any military spouses considering adopting a pet, I highly recommend it. If you have children, including them in the process of choosing and naming a pet can be a fantastic bonding activity, especially when a parent is deployed. Head over to your local humane society, and they’ll have plenty of wonderful animals. You’ll not only be doing yourself a favor, you’ll also be helping an animal in need of a good home.
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