Air Force Family

August 8, 2012  

A veteran and her husband go to great lengths to keep their pit bulls despite the dogs being banned from base housing


By Krista Hernandez, originally posted on Oct. 19, 2011

Our three dogs are our family. They sleep with us, take walks with us, make us laugh and, most importantly, love us! As a military family, one of our greatest challenges has not been the long or unpredictable hours or living away from family: It has been having pit bulls.

I am a veteran and my husband is a staff sergeant in the Air Force. Our second duty station at Edwards AFB in California is where our dogs came into our lives.

Nacho was our first dog. At the time we agreed to take him, I wasn’t even sure what breed he was; I was just helping a dog in need stay out of the pound. That evening we welcomed into our home the dog that would change our lives forever. Nacho was a young, blue nose pit bull who our daughter named after our favorite family movie, “Nacho Libre.”

This was a very big decision for us, but there was no question that our dogs were coming with us.

I was blissfully unaware of the stigma towards pit bulls, but after a few visits to the park all that changed, and over the course of the first year I heard more accusations from strangers, family and friends than I care to remember, not to mention the questioning of our parenting ability. If they all could just see what we see – how gentle he is and how his favorite thing in the whole world is to curl up on the couch with you – they would love him like we do.

After we had Nacho for about 10 months, we decided to get another dog, which our daughter named Mariposa, Spanish for butterfly. She quickly took the role of the annoying little sister, and Nacho never enjoyed peace and quiet again. Mariposa is now almost 2 and is the class clown. Whether she is crashing into the doggie pool or making someone’s lap her chair, there is never a dull moment with her around.

Roxy finally became a permanent member of the family a full year after we met her. Roxy was rescued along with her parents and two other puppies from a situation of neglect – they had been tied up to the fence of an outdoor kennel with no shelter from the winter rains. After my attempts to help the family care for the dogs, they eventually surrendered all five to me. Roxy was initially adopted, but six months later she turned up in the pound with her microchip still registered to the rescue that had worked with me and provided the chipping. So Roxy came back into our lives, and after one more failed adoption attempt, we decided she wasn’t going anywhere else.

These are decisions we wish we didn’t have to make but didn’t think twice about.

Roxy loves to play outside with Mariposa and chase balls – and, of course, tease Nacho. Nacho prefers to relax in a sunny spot but doesn’t get much of a break with the two girls running around. As a family we enjoy taking them on walks in the evening, or my husband will take one of them on a run. They are a part of the family, and we include them in car rides and make time for the dog park.

We lived in base housing for most of our four years at Edwards, where pit bulls where allowed, but this past summer we received orders to Lackland AFB in Texas. We were planning on living on base and were devastated to find out we couldn’t move in with our dogs, as they are on the banned list.

We searched for a possible rental and received the usual, “We don’t allow those kinds of dogs.” I was even scolded by a man with a response of, “This is a family neighborhood, with children!” My husband and I made the decision before we left that the only way to keep everyone together was to buy a home. This was a very big decision for us, but there was no question that our dogs were coming with us.

We spent a whole month in a hotel while our paperwork was being completed, and we finally moved into our house this July. We gave up a lot of the perks of living on base: our daughter having to go to a local elementary school instead of the school on base, a commute to work, the insurance premiums, etc.

These are decisions we wish we didn’t have to make but didn’t think twice about. Friends and family called us crazy for going to such measures, but our dogs are our family, our best friends and our protectors, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Many military members don’t think twice about taking their dog to a shelter when they are transferred, but we know we are the lucky ones. By buying our house, we bought ourselves peace of mind for the next four years, but what challenges will we face at the next duty station?

Editor’s note: In the summer of 2011, the Air Force banned pit bulls from all bases, joining bans already in place on Marine and Army bases.

« « Lo and Behold | One Eyed Willy » »

Comments

33 Responses to “Air Force Family”
  1. It’s a shame this bully breed receives a bad rap for the humans that mistreat them. Can someone from somewhere please explain to me what is so difficult about holding the human responisble for the actions they cause these animals to do. Glad your family made the commitment to your furever family members & thank you for your service & commitment to serve & protect us!

  2. RachelBrownRichards says:

    Thank you for keeping your family together!!!! As a veteran myself, I was appalled when the Armed Forces banned these dogs (along with several other breeds) from their installations. I hope that in 4 years, when it is time for you to transfer again, that you will be able to move into base housing, dogs and all. 🙂

  3. NicholeRyanStaib says:

    it’s really lousy that you can’t have your whole family on base. i’m so not happy that the private sector took over housing. your babies are beautiful!

  4. katetryforos says:

    This makes me so sad…I can’t imagine having to think about giving up your pups. I really hope the Armed Forces reconsiders their ban and families will not have to struggle with this decision. Your dogs really are beautiful! I’m so glad you were able to figure out an alternative plan.

  5. AndreaPrice says:

    Your family are hero’s…I will stand up for the APBT until the day I die! I was a US marine for 8 years and I cannot believe they would ban these dogs that once graced their posters as a symbol of courage. Your dogs are gorgeous and look very happy…as do you. Know that you did the right thing no matter what anyone else says!

  6. ValerieSherman says:

    You know as a military brat myself. Ultimately, my mother made decisions while my father was stationed over seas to keep the four of us and her in the states. That meant months of my mother being a single parent. The only time we left the states to was be stationed in Canada.

    What bothers me is that little plaque she earned for sticking by my father throughout his career, is not nearly enough. It’s hard enough to be part of a military family who’ll pick up and move anywhere in the world for this country..give the vets and their family’s a break.

    Say, consider that only…certain ranks can own dogs period..of course that shows a commitment to their enlistment and their family. Forget the breed crap.

  7. blazer says:

    Having just heard about some pets being released to the local shelter due to ‘moving and they couldn’t bring the pets’ this has totally made me regain a little lost hope at the thought of responsible pet owners. We make a committment when we bring a pet into the family. I applaud this family for going the extra mile!

    It is similar with horses – I have a horse. When she is no longer rideable, I will still keep her. People I know trade them like playing cards. I was just asked yesterday to help take on a horse b/c ‘it has arthritis and can’t be ridden anymore and the family doesn’t want to pay to care for it.’ I know this is a different tangent, but I see so many similarities and it all lies in lazy humans without a moral compass and knowledge of the true definition of responsibility!

    Thanks for making me feel better!

  8. MelissaOpiolaPayne says:

    Being a military family is hard enough and to ban certain dogs from bases is just another struggle for military families that is really not necessary. If society would start blaming people for the way dogs act, ie fighting and aggressive, then society would be a better place. Nacho is the sweetest most loving dog there is, I met him and fell in love with him and him being a pit bull never once entered into my mind when I thought of him. Mariposa and Roxy are loving dogs too, nothing wrong with these 3 pit bullls:)

    • StubbyDog says:

      @MelissaOpiolaPayne It’s clear that Krista’s family has done everything they can to raise three fantastic pit bulls and keep her family all together. For all that and their service to our country, we applaud them!

  9. Misty Song says:

    How sad that the military seems to have forgotten that Stubby was a pit bull – a decorated war hero; and General Patton was a loyal bully fan. Bullies were once glorified as the embodiment of the best of the US ideals: strong, loyal, noble, persistent and courageous. The dogs haven’t changed but our military seems to have wussed out here.

    As someone who moved apartments losing thousands of dollars, in order to house a foster pit bull I rescued from death row, I know how hard it is but I also know that where there’s a will there is a way and I am proud of this family for their commitment and integrity. If all dog guardians were like this we’d have no problems and no shelters.

  10. sarahd.ax says:

    Oh I can’t wait until we buy our home!! My husband is AD military as well and we’ve never been able to live in base housing. But we knew that when we brought our APBT into the family, along with our Boer. Having the two of them actually led to us rescuing a Beagle mix – anyone in this area who will rent to a family with a stubby dog probably doesn’t mind the 3 dogs 😉 Congratulations on your new home! I hope you have time to settle in and enjoy 🙂

  11. mansbstfrend says:

    i think you r an absolutely lovn family for going to great lengths to do that for your dogs..like you said most people gv their animals up without a blink!!all the very best for you all and tell your nosey neighbour to keep his nose in his own backyard…i bet he sits behind the curtains spying on the neighbours and….well…..

  12. mansbstfrend says:

    ps…4got to mention your dogs are so….so beautiful…what a splendid breed indeed

  13. avegas72 says:

    I love the picture of the Mariposa sitting on Nacho. That is so my Kyah girl. She does the same thing to Harley, a male black lab I co-own. (He’s my ex’s). Mariposa sounds great and just like Kyah…silly and very clownish! Its so sad that the military has banned this breed from their bases. I really don’t understand it. I often think of buying again for the same reason you did. To have a home for me and my Kyah girl. =)

  14. AmberJames says:

    you have beautiful dogs. congrats on standing your ground and not giving in, my only wish is that i still had my jazz(passed unexpectidly from who knows what wasnt even 2). just love your story. best of luck with you and your family!

  15. Kmbrlycoates says:

    Good for you:) We are also an AD military family, bring home a pit adopted overseas from a culture thick with dog fighting. Your story made me proud to be a fellow pit-loving military family.

  16. LilianaRuano says:

    Its so moving to see owners who care enough to make the decisions you made. My husband and I would do the same, never leave our dogs no matter what.

    Your dogs area beautiful!

  17. LilianaRuano says:

    Oh, and it is a shame the AF has banned Pits from all bases. Once a military dog, now is being banned due to ignorance.

  18. carlosruano75 says:

    Sargeant Stubby weeps in his grave at the ignorance displayed on our military bases across the nation. How could a dog once revered become such a pariah?

  19. carlosruano75 says:

    Sargeant Stubby weeps in his grave at the ignorance displayed on our military bases across the nation. How could a dog, once revered, become such a pariah?

  20. barbaraleeanderson07090 says:

    What a beautiful story.  Hang in there, Hernandez family!  Follow your heart and do what you believe is right.  You cannot change people’s minds if they refuse to see or hear the truth, nor can you control what other people do or say.  You’re the ones who have to see your reflections in the mirror.  No matter what comes about, find solace in knowing that you fought hard for your fabulous pitties and that other pittie “parents” support your efforts.  And, most of all, thank you for your brave support of our country.

  21. barbaraleeanderson07090 says:

    What a beautiful story. Hang in there, Hernandez family! Follow your heart and do what you believe is right. You cannot change people’s minds if they refuse to see or hear the truth, nor can you control what other people do or say. You’re the ones who have to see your reflections in the mirror. No matter what comes about, find solace in knowing that you fought hard for your fabulous pitties and that other pittie “parents” support your efforts. And, most of all, thank you for your brave support of our country.

  22. gbcubed says:

    I wish you were my neighbor. 

  23. gbcubed says:

    I would LOVE to be your neighbor. So would Daisy, Cake, Lily and Madeline our canine family!

  24. ColleenKristick says:

    You have 3 beautiful furbabies.  Hoping it works out for you to keep them with you.  As a military family, you give up things others take for granted.  Your pets shouldn’t be another sacrifice you have to make to follow your calling to serve your country.

  25. ehsutherland says:

    Stories like this make me over the moon happy. Thank you for not giving up your dogs when times got tough; they are lucky to be in a family like yours.

  26. ehsutherland says:

    Stories like this make me over the moon happy. Thank you for not giving
    up your dogs when times got tough; they are lucky to be in a family
    like yours.

  27. NuriaRodriguez says:

    It’s not enough these military people risk their lives for our protection.  Why punish them for having a pit bull?  Ignorance should be banned.

  28. MatinaVourgourakis says:

    Good for you, I would do the same. How dare the military ban these dogs when they have been proven useful on police forces and yes, in the military in the past!

  29. JonPOgden says:

    We should never have turned the armed services over to Obama