Taking care of a soldier's friend
CHRIS PARKER/TIMES NEWS JoAnn Pilston gets a kiss from Sadar, the Doberman Pinscher she and her husband Neil are fostering for a soldier who will be in Afghanistan for six months.
Sadar, a 6-year-old Doberman Pinscher, stands beside his caregiver, JoAnn Pilston of Walker Township, watching with keen interest as a visitor approaches the front porch.
Once the well-muscled dog learns the stranger means no harm, Sadar greets her with kisses on the hands, arms, face and feet.
Sadar, 6, belongs to a soldier who will be deployed to Afghanistan for a six month tour of duty. Pilston and her husband Neil are fostering the dog through the Guardian Angels for Soldiers Pet, an organization that matches the pets of military men and women with people who will care for them during deployment or emergencies.
Sadar came to the Pilston's on June 24, less than a month after their previous Guardian Angels foster dog, a black Lab named Diesel, returned to his owner, John Donato of Blandon, Berks County. Donato, a Vietnam War veteran, had been hospitalized for 19 months.
Sadar whose name means "soldier" in Turkish gets along well with Dana, the Pilston's chocolate Lab, as did Diesel. "He's been kissing her since day one," Pilston said.
The soldier, who has asked that his identity not be published, brought Sadar, with his toys, bed, collars, leashes and dishes, from their Virginia home to the Pilston's. He wanted to see where his dog would be living, Pilston said.
"He spent three hours at our house. We took the dogs for a walk to make sure they got along. Then, we just kind of hung out - we asked him questions about the dog, and we talked about the dog and his deployment," Pilston said.
Neil Pilston had researched Dobermans after Guardian Angels asked if they would care for one.
Sadar had bonded with the couple, who recently celebrated their 23rd wedding anniversary, within days. The dog is especially fond of Neil and misses him when he is at work.
'He'll sleep for a couple of hours in the morning, and then he usually wants to be outside looking for him," JoAnn Pilston said.
"Since they are guard dogs, he sits and stares out the windows a lot," she said. "He whines because Neil's not home. I know he misses his owner, too."
When the time comes to reunite Sadar with his owner, the Pilstons fully expect to take another dog into their home.
Guardian Angels for Soldiers Pet began in 2005, when Linda Spurlin-Dominik and Carol Olmedo realized that military personnel about to be deployed were often left with no choice but to relinquish their beloved pets to shelters or have them euthanized.
The Texas-based group is building a nationwide network of foster families, whose backgrounds are carefully checked and who meet criteria, to care for those pets until their owners return from their missions.
The organization's website is at http:// guardianangelsforsoldierspet.org/.