Deployment bond sparks lasting friendship

  • Published
  • By Staff Sergeant Kenneth Brown
  • 108th Wing

EDITOR'S NOTE: No one knows what new friendships will be formed while on a deployment. They are often special bonds since they are formed during unique circumstances that last for years. In this case it’s between a woman and an animal.

“Puppy Puppy” Master Sgt. Jaqueline Kennedy exclaimed to a small dog she had just met while deployed to U.S. Africa Command in May 2018. 

At first sight, the New Jersey Air National Guardsman services superintendent, did not fathom that puppy would later become an integral part of her life.

“The first time I saw her, she was with her mother and two siblings coming out of a dirt mound,” said Kennedy. “She didn’t look like her siblings. She was much smaller and sickly looking. Then one day I noticed she wasn’t with them. I assumed that Puppy Puppy must have died. Until one of the contractors said he found a puppy that had a partial bag and wire wrapped all about her poor little body. It looked as if someone had dumped her.”

The puppy lived near a dirt track that civilian contractors and military members were allowed to use and became a familiar sight to the people who frequented the area.

Although very timid when observed, the puppy would get very excited when she saw people and would run circles around them on the dirt track said Kennedy. She loved to look back at us before she ran through the many tunnels she created in the brush.  People took to her since she was so curious and full of life and one of the contractors named her Emma.

Emma didn’t remain a stray dog for long.

The contractor who named Emma worked with a nonprofit organization to send her to his Central Texas home. The nonprofit organization had Emma fixed and updated her shots, then she was placed in quarantine for three months before going home to the States.

While in Texas, unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances, the contractor could no longer keep her. The contractor had two other dogs at home and one was a special needs dog which required full time and attention. With the contractor notified to deploy again it proved too much for his spouse to keep Emma too. Also Emma had trust issues at that time and did not do well around men.

“The contractor then asked me if I wanted her,” said Kennedy. “After I talked to my husband and two children, I told him yes.”  

His wife drove from Central Texas to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey over a two-day period after which Emma, the deployment dog, became a part of Kennedy’s life and family. 

It took time for Emma to adjust.

“Our vet says her ‘episodes’, as I call them, are much like posttraumatic stress disorder or panic attacks,” said Kennedy. “She used to freak out for no reason and hide multiple times daily. She has two safe havens we provided for her. Once she calmed down and us reassuring her, she would come back out and play as if nothing happened.”

It took five months for her to adjust and for her episodes to lessen said Kennedy who also stated Emma is now very protective despite having a prevalent limp. One leg is longer than the other three due to a former break that did not heal properly.

Described as being a sweet, gentle, mild-mannered dog with a great personality, Emma shows a different side of herself to each of the Kennedy family members.

“Emma has taken a special liking to my husband, said Kennedy. He is the first one she comfortably opened up to and likes to lay beside him. She sleeps with the two other dogs and cat; she rough houses and loves to go for a drive with my daughter; she goes to my son for affection and she comes to me for food and extra attention. I never thought we would be that house with three dogs, but here we are and we love it. She really has stolen our hearts.”