Where It Began

Pets Enriching TroopsIn 2013, William and Nicole Strauss attended a deployment line to see a young friend off to Afghanistan. Their friend was just 19-years-old, deploying for the very first time straight into the fighting season, and her family was thousands upon thousands of miles away in Saipan; no one was able to be there for her in those last slow hours of waiting. Will and Nicole arrived on base with their family of five dogs in tow, determined that she would spend the time smiling, being hugged, and receiving sloppy doggie kisses just like all the other Airman.

The arrival of the dogs sparked a sensation. Hundreds of troops were deploying that day, many for the first time, and few with family there to wish them well. Over the next several hours, the Strauss’ dogs, all registered Therapy Dogs, worked among the crowds, offering a smile, comfort, and a very wet farewell. As they stood among the other families waving to the troops’ bus now headed for the air field, children clung tightly to the dogs’ necks, young spouses cried into their fur, and parents stepped up for a final stroke and a heartfelt “thank you” for being there. That night and the following morning, the local news stations featured videos, photos, and reports of the Therapy Dogs that had come to wish their troops farewell. The experience planted an idea in the hearts and minds of the Strauss’, whose own lives had been touched in indescribable ways by those very same dogs.

After a deployment of their own, a wedding, and a PCS overseas with all eight of the furry family members, the need for an organization to meet the needs of the military pet community was undeniable. In February 2014, Pets Enriching Troops was born, with the hopes of one day being available on all military bases worldwide. As P.E.T. continues to grow and develop, they are proud to be a small part of keeping the wonders of the human-animal relationship alive for those who serve their countries.