Good girl on carrier

| May 4, 2023

Who’s a good girl!?  That lovely looking blonde is Sage, a 3 year old yellow lab who will become an official asset on board the Gerald R. Ford, and is a therapy dog on loan from Mutts With a Mission.

Sage, a 3-year-old female yellow Labrador retriever, is the first dog to deploy with a ship’s crew through a pilot program meant to address mental health and resiliency.

The Virginia-based nonprofit Mutts with a Mission trained Sage and loaned her to the crew for the deployment. The dog will comfort sailors and is trained to help them cope with operational stress. It’s part of what is dubbed, in typical military-speak, the Expanded Operational Stress Control Canine program.

Cmdr. Genevieve Clark, the chaplain for the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group, will serve as Sage’s primary handler and underwent 120 hours of training with Mutts with a Mission. Three other sailors have volunteered to help care for the canine during the deployment, which could last around six months.

Navy Times

Now, we need to draw a line here: there is a lot of controversy over people claiming their snake/parakeet/dog/wallaby being “emotional support” animals – mebbe they are, mebbe they are just a symptom of a self-centered over-entitled whiny personality (I wouldn’t want to cloud the issue with my own personal view on that.)  But official therapy and service dogs are actually tested and trained for their jobs. A therapy dog is supposed to be trained and pass the American Kennel Club “Canine Good Citizen” test to show they are obedient, more or less focused, tolerate strangers well, etc.  Service dogs are more highly trained in specific tasks for their owners, such as seeing-eye dogs, detecting grand-mal seizures or anxiety attacks in their nascent stages – I am told their training can take upwards of two to five years.  Quick sidebar – the first seeing-eye dog, a Golden (the world’s greatest dog) was renamed Buddy – its  original name was  Kiss.

Ahead of this deployment, Mutts with a Mission brought Sage onboard Ford several times “to visit with the crew and become more accustomed to life on a warship,” Navy spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Dawn Stankus told Navy Times. Based on those visits, Mutts with a Mission “has no concerns with the dog remaining on the ship for deployment.”

Still, Sage’s handlers and the ship’s senior medical officer were all trained in canine first aid, the ship is stocked with basic canine medicines, and the Army Veterinary Services is on standby for telemedicine calls if needed, Stankus said.

The Navy will evaluate the effectiveness of this program during Ford’s deployment and determine whether future carriers or other ships might deploy with dogs of their own. That evaluation will consider the number of interactions between sailors and Sage, whether she increases their morale and willingness to seek out help, and how well she adjusts to life at sea.

Not to say this sounds like a good idea to me, but I’m thinking sitting down with a nice pup after a stressful days, maybe doing some strategic scratching is worth at least a drink or two. Too, I’m prejudiced – if my dogs can’t go to Heaven, I ain’t going.

Hat tip to Jeff LPH for the link.

Category: Navy

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Yeah, ok. We had a dog as a mascott in korea. Thats all this is…well, he’s a trained mascot…


I think using this as your recruiting tool is a lot better then using the other “mutt” in costume……


For emotional support animals, I still favor the honey badger.
comment image


Either Cheap Trick, or The Knack.
So, here’s Cheap Trick.


So which non-rates have to clean up her “business”?
I have lots of empty lots where my black lab does his, but where on a carrier?


Officer’s Country???


The Fan Tail might be in use by they/them/it things.


Some dogs, have been trained to “dump” over the side of ships. When they “dump” they have used three legs, front two and one on the rear. My English Setter does it all the time. When she drains her kidneys, that is another story.


I bet Cougar could’ve used a therapy dog 🤣


Stop that.


Crew of the USS Ford plus air wing:

Number of emotional support animals available:

I hope they don’t have too many snowflakes on board or that dog will be stretched pretty thin.


 that dog will be stretched pretty thin.

Bro, you do NOT just lob a nuclear softball out there like that when talking about NAVY and boat operations and expect us to just…..behave… 😮  😁  😆 ….ahem….so….. 6 months out at sea and well….it was late and ……(no no no, I’m not doing it)


 Mars Climate Orbiter.


Could be a new and literal definition of “screwed the pooch”.


For which today’s Navy seems to exhibit a particular affinity… 😜 


On 9 December 2023, we will see if our tax dollars are put to good use for the Sailors of the USS Gerald R. Ford after Army Beats Navy…


17694 (1).jpeg

Who’s cleaning up the poop deck?


Please do not confuse the dog with the autodog.

George V

Animals in the military goes way back, from the ship’s cat in the days of sail to the stray mutt adopted by soldiers or airmen in the field. But the idea that sailors need a therapy dog just from the stress of doing their job? How about when something explodey hits amidships, and there’s kabooms and fire and smoke. Are the sailors first supposed to look for the dog, then fight the fires?
If a sailor needs a therapy dog in peacetime they need to be on the beach ASAP.

Skivvy Stacker

I can’t resist those SOULFUL EYES!!!!!

AT1 ret

With the “wokenavy” today that poor dog will think it’s a cat by the time it gets off there.


Okay, that made me LOL!

Forest Bondurant

“My dog, Shep, identifies as a female Siamese cat. He’s not a K-9, he’s a feline, so…”

It’s just a matter of time before a group of crazed pet owners will start calling for gender or breed affirming surgery for their pets.

It’s anyone’s guess if veterinarians would buy into that bullshit.


Neighbor has a mixed-breed something+Lab. Goofy frikken pooch.

“What kind of dog is that?”

“Meth Lab”

(Really weird dog sounds)



Yes and Amen to the difference between a support and service dog. I have now trained two support dogs. One, a Great Pyr, one a Goldendoodle…because after the drooling and shedding of the GP, I opted for a lower maintenance mix. But, that GP was possibly the best dog I’ll ever have. The size of a small elephant, the gentleness and obedience of a Golden, the smarts of a poodle. Miss him still.

Both the GP and the Goldendoodle passed all the AKC and Therapy dog tests, visited nursing homes and hospitals, and the Goldendoodle was an integral part of both group and individual therapy sessions I ran.

During training, they came into stores and businesses with me, but only with specific permission. And I would never claim them as “service” animals. I detest those whiny mutts that bring their ill-mannered dogs everywhere.

And yet, I concur that having them on a ship that could end up in a real-world shooting show is…problematic. Unless or until a dog, no matter how well trained, is exposed to certain conditions there’s no way of knowing how they will react. Because at the end of the day, they are still a dog. No matter how much I am guilty of anthropomorphism, no matter how certain I am they understand every word I say, they are still subject to their nature. It could even be considered cruel to go through the training of a dog to those kinds of stresses.


It’s amazing that millions of US Navy personnel, since 1775, were able to withstand the vigor of life at sea, and years of naval warfare, without a “emotional support animal” nearby.

I do not include the Coast Guard…


Well, the Coast Guard had Sinbad, but he was a mascot.

File:Sinbad on Campbell.jpg – Wikipedia


I worry about the dog some. Ladderwells are steep and decks are hard. How will “several times” aboard stack up against a long deployment? Plus God forbid the hound steps on a kneeknocker.

Regardless I hope the crew and their new buddy all come back safe and sound.