I can’t tell you what happened last night at The Pongo Fund’s Midnight Veterinary Clinic. I want to, but I can’t. The words are not there yet. But I will tell you about a cat and a man and I can also tell you that what took place under the moonlight last night were some of the most special moments I’ve ever seen. On the pitch black ride back to The Pongo Fund there was nary a word spoken. We were exhausted. Mentally and physically. But I will give you a taste of what it’s like to be there with us, because I truly wish each one of you could see this work up close and personal. We hope to soon begin inviting people to ride along with us on PONGO ONE and when that happens, if nothing else, I promise you will be changed forever.
Among the crowd of people and pets that began lining up long before we arrived to this special place that cares for victimized women in distress was a lone man, on his bike, towing a small trailer. He was riding by and saw our mobile hospital. The front of our truck reads SAVING LIVES, so he stopped. And while the majority of services were not available to him because the place we were cares for only women, the compassionate volunteer staff made sure he was heard. And then they came and talked to us. And we said yes, we will absolutely see them, because a life was at stake.
This is when you might want to sit down. Because what I’m going to tell you is going to hurt to read. But it’s going to leave you changed in the best ways, to remind you that none of us knows what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes.
Wade got Squash the Kitty several weeks ago when a friend went to jail. Wade served time in prison, so when his friend asked for help, Wade was there. Homeless, but living in a van, he knew he had it better than others. Squash was his first kitty and he was smitten bigtime.
Shortly thereafter their van was towed. Wade was not inside the van, but Squash was. And now Squash was gone. Wade got to the tow yard fast as he could but no Squash; he’d gotten out when the doors were opened. That was six weeks ago. And almost every day since, Wade made the many miles trek to the tow yard to look for Squash. Because he promised to take care of him.
So he went day after day after day, each time leaving empty handed. This homeless man fought his shyness and spoke with everyone he could, he posted fliers, he walked the streets. And then one day a woman nearby said she’d seen Squash, she said he sits on the corner every day. And the next day when Wade went back, there was Squash, sitting on the corner, like he’d been waiting for Wade the entire six weeks. That was just three days ago. Somehow Squash had survived weeks without regular food or water in an area he’d never been. Waiting on the corner for the man he knew was looking for him.
Wade could see that Squash had faced some tough times during those six weeks. Among other things, Wade noticed that Squash was chewing incessantly underneath his tail. And after these six weeks of agony, all that mattered to Wade was getting Squash some care. But financially, he just could not afford it.
Squash rides in the most comfy traveling Kitty Condo you’ve ever seen. It’s huge and it’s stuffed with blankets and toys and love, secured tight to the trailer that rides behind Wade’s bicycle. But Wade knew that Squash was hurting and he needed help. And that’s why when we heard the story we said yes, we will absolutely help. As the night grew darker we were finally able to get Wade and Squash inside the hospital and we were shocked by the wound we found. That’s what Squash had been licking and it had to hurt like heck. He was doing all he could to soothe himself but in turn, the infection was growing.
Dr. Melissa and Dr. Robin got to work, cleaning the wound and administering antibiotics and talking with Wade about how to provide continued care. And while Wade listened, he gave me one of the kindest compliments I’ve ever received. You see, I’m the Executive Director of The Pongo Fund, but I’m also the guy who sweeps the floor. When we’re on the road I’m inside the hospital, shoulder to shoulder with the veterinarians, doing whatever I can to help but not be in the way. I also ask questions so I can learn. While we were treating Squash I asked about medications. And in that same moment I mentioned to Wade that I’m not a medical professional, I’m just the guy who drives the hospital.
He looked me in the eye and said “That’s ok, everyone’s got to do something and if not for you, you wouldn’t be here tonight helping Squash.” He broke it down so simply. Everyone’s got to do something. And even though I’m just the driver, he still thanked me sincerely for being the driver, and it meant the world to me.
As we neared the end of treatment for Squash we needed to fit him with an E-Collar, something that Wade was certain would not go well. But we use the most super soft E-Collars and if we had to wear an E-Collar, this is the one we’d want to wear. And that’s how The Pongo Fund rolls. We do not cut corners just because someone is homeless.
Just before we put the collar on Squash, Wade leaned close and told him what was coming and he asked him to be good about it. And he told Squash that if he wanted him to, that Wade would wear an E-Collar too. Luckily we had one in Wade’s size if needed. But Squash rolled with it and the collar went on with ease and then Squash sauntered back into his condo and burrowed into the blankets like nothing had happened. We knew he was feeling better already.
Wade and Squash left with full bottles of medications, and that blew my mind. These meds are expensive, yet providing just a 2 or 3 day dose wasn’t going to do the trick. And that’s why I’m so proud to work with all of the veterinary professionals who share their time and skills with The Pongo Fund. Because they treat these cases with the same care they treat all of their patients. So when Dr. Melissa and Dr. Robin tell me we need to give away entire bottles of antibiotics for free, we do it. Because it’s the right thing to do.
Wade thanked us many times over; we know that Squash did too. They stepped down three steps and exited the hospital, making room for the next patient to arrive. We still had hours to go, still so much more to do.
My heart is still full from the work we did last night and I look forward to telling you more about it soon. Oh, and one more thing; we’ll be back to this sweet love-filled place again in just a few weeks. Because if providing free veterinary care at a midnight clinic for our community’s most fragile souls is what needs to be done, than hell yes, that’s what The Pongo Fund is going to do. And we are honored to have you there with us too.
I am the luckiest guy in the world.
Being there for those when they need us most.
And this is why we Pongo.
Sit. Stay. Eat. Live. thepongofund.org