Help Bring Ponzo Home
Hello! Hola! こんにちは !
Thanks for taking the time to read our story.
My name is Laura! My husband Gustavo is a U.S. Marine, and together we have been living in Okinawa, Japan for the past 6 years.
Almost two years ago he unexpectedly brought a dog home. Ponzo is a 9 year old German Shepherd and a retired Military Working Dog (MWD). He served almost 5 years as a patrol and explosive detection dog for the Provost Marshal's Office on Camp Foster, Okinawa. He was retired, earlier than most MWDs, because he was having difficulties jumping into vehicles and over obstacles thanks to neurologic weaknesses; he was later diagnosed with arthritis in his hind limbs.
He was adopted by another military family in 2014. For reasons we don't know, his adoptive family decided to find him a new forever home at the end of September 2016. My husband worked with his owner and when he heard that they were trying to re-home him decided to bring him home, without my knowledge (HAHA!). Even though it was a total shock for me (not being a dog person and all) we really bonded during my husband's time away that following November.
Ponzo has been enjoying his retired life with us since then! You can find him napping all over the house, but most likely in his favorite spot, our couch. The puppy in him comes out to play once in a while and when that happens you can find him running back and forth in our backyard, most likely with a ball in his mouth.
He has been such a great addition to our family and has accompanied me through all of my husband's absences these past 2 years, including a 3.5 month deployment. He is simply the best dog!!
We have recently received Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina for this Fall.
We were planning on bringing him to our new home using United Airlines, the cheapest option for those shipping pets from overseas. But thanks to United Airlines' policy changes to their PetSafe program , they have stopped shipping the 700 Series Giant kennels; which Ponzo needs (plus extenders) because he is tall and has some BIG ears!! Ha!
We now have no choice but to use a Third Party Shipping Company to send Ponzo Stateside. He will be traveling on All Nippon Airways (ANA) Cargo from Okinawa, Japan with an overnight stop at Narita International Airport in Tokyo and then onto Washington Dulles International Airport, where we will pick him up and then drive to our next duty station.
I never would have imagined doing a Go Fund Me campaign... but we have been quoted $6,053 by Sarah's Pet Paradise. Here's a breakdown of the cost:
Okinawa to Narita ¥84,000, which is $766.92
Narita Pet Hotel ¥9,000, which is $82.17
Narita Transfer Fee ¥50,000, which is $456.50
Narita to Dulles ¥520,000, which is $4,747.64
The total is ¥663,000 which is $6,053 give or take depending on the yen/usd rate at that time.
It's looking like grants may be hard to get since so many of us with big dogs are having to pay an arm and a leg to get our pets home. However we have applied for the SPCAI's Operation Military Pets program grant and are crossing our fingers we get it, which is why our goal is set at $5,000.
Any amount would be immensely helpful!! And I just want to clarify that as good dog parents we do have money in savings, but we still need so much when we arrive stateside! We need new cars, a set of washer and dryer, some furniture and all those little things you have to buy (that add up quickly) when you do a big move like this one. It would be such a blessing to not have to use up most of our savings just to get Ponzo home; of course we will if we need to.
I know our families have offered to help, so we thought maybe a Go Fund Me campaign would be a great place to get even a bit of help.
If you decide to donate some money, we want to THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts. *big hugs* If you aren't able to donate, please help us by sharing this page on social media!!
Although we are sad to leave our home here in Okinawa, we are excited for this next chapter of our lives. We are looking forward to taking our (not so) little island dog on more adventures and showing him all of the things he's never experienced... like SNOW!!
Thanks so much for reading our story!
- Laura Pita
Photos below by: Hannah Curtis Photography and Lauren Casino Photography .
Ponzo flew out yesterday (September 27th) a day earlier than planned, thanks to Typhoon Trami who's coming our way this weekend. He is safe at the pet hotel at Narita Airport and is still on track to leave on Monday morning to DC.
He was incredibly calm when we put him in his kennel and stayed like that while the ANA crew got him ready. I really wish I could post more than 1 photo on this update.
The money you donated paid for Ponzo's flight from Okinawa to Haneda Airport, which was $845 and will help pay for his extended stay at the pet hotel at Narita Airport which is $76 a night. Thanks again for all of your help!! A big hug from Japan <3
There's been a small change in his itinerary. He's still leaving Friday morning, but he will now be staying at the Narita Pet Hotel for 2 extra nights, because Cargo flights only leave Monday-Friday. He will be flying out of Narita Monday morning and arriving at Dulles Monday morning (yes, he'll be time traveling! ;D )
We also received our final bills and they are as follows:
¥92,465 - Approximate ANA Cargo fee for Okinawa to Narita flight
¥592,294 - Nittsu/ANA International cargo
¥25,920 - Petinn Royal Narita pet hotel x 3 nights (9/28~10/1)
¥50,000 Narita transport and handling
Total of: ¥760,679 = $6,750 give or take depending on the yen rate.
Thanks again for your support and for helping us with this crazy expensive bill! We are eternally grateful.
PS. Ponzo is getting used to his kennel and slowly spending more time inside it! Also, he is loving our new sleeping arrangements now that our furniture is gone.