Helping Our Heroes: Military Dogs Need Care Packages Too

As part of our ongoing military series "Helping Our Heroes" today we look at the lesser known soldier, the military canine. Two local women are dedicating their spare time to ensure war dogs get care packages too.

Bobbie Miller is the founder of Texas’s war dog chapter.  She zips from parcel to customer as she goes about her daily job in a small post office in the back of a hardware store in Katy. Today she has a special helper, her 9-year-old German shepherd military dog, Fama.

"Down, oh sorry. See she does it readily."

Fama pants a lot to cool herself down, a side effect of regularly overheating in Iraq. She was retired from service after she got arthritis in her back legs. Waiting for Fama to bark might take a while because military dogs are trained not to so they don’t expose their handler’s location.

Miller clearly loves her dog and can’t imagine life without her. She first stumbled upon military dogs about four years ago.

"I was working one evening shift and a lady brought in a couple of boxes, and it said canine unit and I had never processed one like that, in eight years."

As a dog lover and owner this package inspired Miller to send her own.

"The next day I sent out a box. Well then a couple of weeks go by and I go um-um-u- uh, no-no-no. You have to do more than this."

But Miller wasn’t sure what exactly, until she got mail herself.  It was from Ron Aiello, the president of the U.S. War Dogs Association and he was looking for some help.

Canines in the military are mostly used for sniffing out narcotics or bombs, but the heat can impact their sense of smell.

"He said, 'We really need cooling vests and cooling mats.' I said, 'Well great.'  I said, 'What are they and where can I acquire them?' He looks on the invoice and he goes, 'hmm, Katy, Texas.'  I said, 'Ron, you know where I’m phoning from, I’m phoning from Katy, Texas.'"

And so the nonprofit War Dog Chapter Four in Houston, Texas was born in 2010.  Miller then adopted Fama and found administrative help in the form of another animal lover Ann Morrison.

"I’m very patriotic having been in the military and I love dogs. I’ve worked at two animal shelters here in Houston and so when I retired from working at the shelter, I decided I’d help Bobbie with this. Oh my, it’s taken over my life."

Together Miller and Morrison raise money to assemble packages for military dogs. These packages can contain things like doggles — dog goggles for protection from Iraq and Afghan sandstorms, booties to protect paws on hot sand and cooling vests to keep body temperatures even. The fruits of their labor can be seen in letters they often get from soldier dog handlers like this one from Samantha.

"We are a small unit of five handlers so we share the packages we receive so everyone gets a little piece of heaven from home. Our military working dogs would like to say thank you too. When we have a happy puppy they are more than willing to do their job of protecting their handlers and teams. Below is a picture of me and my dog, Betsy."

Miller and Morrison have sent over 250 packages to dogs overseas. To help, visit https://usmilitaryk-9fund.org/.

Bio photo of Edel Howlin

Edel Howlin

Producer, Houston Matters

Edel is a producer on Houston Matters and reporter for PBS’s Newshour Weekend...