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Superheroes

Dr. Melissa and Dr. Robin. These are bonafide Superheroes. Donating their time to provide a wide range of lifesaving veterinary care, including surgeries, dentals, xrays, bloodwork and more; all at no-cost to qualified pet owners in need, including the homeless, seniors, veterans, victims of domestic violence, residents of low income housing and more.

“One hundred years from now it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much I had in the bank nor what my clothes looked like, but the world will be different because I was important in the life of the animals and the creatures on this earth.” ― Unknown

And this is why we Pongo.

Sit. Stay. Eat. Live. thepongofund.org

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Hurting And Worrying

She was angry but respectful, almost like she was angry at herself for being angry, if that makes any sense. Like it was coming out even though she didn’t want it to come out. She needed food but something told us this was about more than food for a little dog. The dog, he was older, she got him when a friend died and even though she didn’t have the money, she knew she was his only hope. She was older too, but she counted her coins and thanks to social security, bottle returns and food stamps, she made it to the end of each month. It wasn’t perfect but it worked and now they were a team, these two, together for a couple of years now. He had some aches and pains, she was worried, she took him to the vet. The meds helped and he was ok, but that money was his food money.

We told her we could help. How soon did she need food? Yesterday, she said. Based on where they were and what they needed, we could dispatch the Emergency Kibble Response Team and get food to them fast. But we sensed there was more, it was just the way she spoke. There was almost a sense of defeat in her voice. So we threw caution to the wind and we asked if there was anything else going on besides her sweet boy’s aches and pains, and the food he needed?

The money she spent for her dog’s vet care, that was his food money. But she had a neighbor, an even older woman with a small dog, and that dog was in worse shape than her own dog, so she used her other money to pay for that dog to see the vet too. This woman, she was a Saint.

Yet in that moment she didn’t see that, she only knew her dog was hungry and she couldn’t help him. But her anger, it seemed like it was more than the food. And then we found out why. Her “other money” was her dental money that she’d been saving penny by penny so her dentist could do the work to fix what hurt. Everything built up and there she was, tired and in pain, and she couldn’t even feed her dog. She’d been up all night hurting and worrying and then she called us, and it just came out. She didn’t mean to, it just happened. We’ve all been there.

This woman who grew up during tough times but had parents who taught her kindness and respect despite those tough times, slowed down and all at once, she sighed. She still didn’t know what to do. But we did. She needed a do-over, a chance to turn back the clock a little bit. And thanks to you, those of you who say to let you know when you’re needed the most, we were able to help make that happen. This family is doing fine, with full tummies, no pain, everyone is sleeping well. The neighbor dog too. They’re all good because you were there for them when they needed you most.

And this is why we Pongo.

Sit. Stay. Eat. Live. www.thepongofund.org

(Photo of dog is not dog mentioned above, but another dog The Pongo Fund helped)

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Domestic Violence

They’re secreted inside a Domestic Violence shelter. Can’t tell you their names because he’s found them before. Her call came at 8:30am on Saturday, she said her dog, her everything, had something wrong and she didn’t know what to do. She described the situation, said it started a few days earlier and was getting worse. Every time we asked a question her voice got lost and trailed off, in the softest voice possible she kept saying “I can’t lose him, I just can’t lose him, I don’t know what to do, please help us…”

Minutes later we’re already in communication with Dr. Alayson and her crackerjack team at VCA East Mill Plain Animal Hospital. It’s a busy Saturday and Dr. Alayson is at the front end of a 12 hour day. She made an opening and we grabbed it. This woman, she has no transportation, just the bus. She’s old enough to be your grandmother yet here she is, sequestered deep inside a safe house yet worried more about her dog than about herself.

She told us she should have had money set aside for a vet, but their names finally came up and there was a place waiting for them, their own place, and it was just a couple weeks away. She’d been saving every penny to pay the deposits and that just got done. Leaving them penniless. She’s old enough to know better, but sometimes knowing better doesn’t change things. When your life is at stake, you run. Sometimes from one end of the country to the other and back again, left to right and top to bottom.

Sometimes you don’t even know where you’re waking up because you’ve been moved so many times. But your dog, she’s here with you, but how do you help her when you haven’t got a penny?

She found The Pongo Fund, we said we would help. This super sweet dog is older, and despite it all you can see she receives excellent care. She even listens to classical music. Full of kisses and cuddles and we might as well name her “Therapy” for the impact she has on those around her. And we’re proud to report she is feeling lots better.

When you donate to our Emergency Care Fund, this is who you help. A grandmother battered from one end of the country to the other, and the support dog who keeps her going.

Sometimes you’re spinning so fast you don’t know where to turn and yet, somehow, you find The Pongo Fund. This was one of those times. Being there for others when they need us most.

And this is why we Pongo.

To read more stories like this, please sign up for our very occasional newsletter here: http://bit.ly/2CVq34E.

Sit. Stay. Eat. Live. thepongofund.org
#thepongofund #love #oregon #petfoodbank #newsletter

***The Pongo Fund is Oregon’s Pet Food Bank. Because hungry people have hungry pets. Our award winning and volunteer driven charity provides high quality food and vital veterinary care for the family pets of anyone in honest need, keeping them safe, healthy and out of the shelters. 100,000 animals helped; 10,000,000 healthy meals provided. We would be honored if you SHARE this post so that others will also know of our good work***

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Gus

You’re not an addict or substance abuser, you’re not mentally ill or anything like that. You just had some bad luck and now you’re working as hard as you can to turn things around. And the only thing to remind you of what love is, to keep you grounded, is your 14 year-old Yorkie named Gus.

Gus had no idea anything was different, he was tucked inside his Mom’s shirt just like always. They had a home, “had” being the key word. Then they fled violence, the kind of violence you never expect, and they drove north and now their home is their car. The night shelter they stayed in left them both with fleas. One call then another and she found Pongo.

She told us about the fleas but she needed so much more than that, but whether she was too stubborn or too proud, those were her words, not ours, she refused to ask for help. Because that’s how the beatings started, she asked someone for help. His help led to pounding her stomach, then her ribs, then her head and then he kicked Gus and they were gone.

She said she had a list and called everyone on that list and luckily The Pongo Fund answered the phone. We got there because we had to get there, because there was no one else. We knew we could handle the fleas, we also knew that wasn’t the biggest problem. Making this woman feel safe and respected was the most important thing and that was going to be a little bit harder because trust was not something that came easily for her.

The first thing we did was hold Gus, and once she saw that, how he burrowed in close to my Scooby hoodie, that was the moment she let the tears flow. Because she knew they were going to be ok.

They left their fleas in Portland, and we sent them on their way with enough medication to keep those fleas away. We provided Gus with a special backpack filled with his favorite foods, Lola sent along some of her favorite treats, we added a Gus-sized little dog bed, a teeny-tiny harness, new collar and leash, all the things he needed because Gus deserved more than a little rope leash but that was all they had.

For this moment in time they were safe, on their way north to stay with family, to sort things out. Low-on-air tires got some air, an empty gas tank got filled, an empty cooler bag got some snacks to help with the drive. And a hurting heart got a chance to trust again, if even only for a moment. She hugged me and said I’ll never understand just how hard it was for her to give that hug.

It won’t be long before she sees the envelope on her passenger seat, and she’ll open it and find some travelling money, and a couple of gas cards too. The tires got filled, the tank got filled. We hope her heart got filled a little bit too.

Being there for those when they need us most.

And this is why we Pongo.

Sit. Stay. Eat. Live. thepongofund.org
(To protect their privacy, photo is not Gus)

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Thank You Newman’s Own

The one driving the forklift, that’s Christian, she’s a Pongo manager. In other words, she’s a volunteer. She worked all night at her regular job, then hustled straight to The Pongo Fund to unload a truck. The one on the right, the one in the Pongo hat, that’s Keith, he’s a trucker. And he delivered a 53 footer filled with $75,000 of organic dog food. All of that great food donated by the generous folks at Newman’s Own. And that means thousands of hungry animals will go to bed happy and healthy and with full tummies. We call that a good day, a very good day.

Sit. Stay. Eat. Live. thepongofund.org
#petfoodbank  #newmansown #thepongofund #100percentprofitstocharity #trucker

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Jack the Young Philanthropist

That’s Jack in the back, with the Santa hat. Jack, the Young Philanthropist. His Mom and his Grandparents, they are there too. Sorry, I don’t know their names, but you can see how proud they are. Jack got money for Christmas, but Jack also knows that others are less fortunate. So Jack wanted to share the love, giving up his own gifts to help those in need.

Jack’s Grandparents were touched by their generous grandson, and doubled the money. And then they went shopping. Arriving at The Pongo Fund on the day before Christmas laden with more pet food than you can see. But that’s not all. Because Jack knows it is hungry people who have hungry pets. So he also included socks and gloves and toothbrushes and all sorts of other supplies. Because helping the pets, and the people at the same time, made his holiday even more meaningful.

To Jack and your Family, from all of us at The Pongo Fund, we thank you.

Sit. Stay. Eat. Live. thepongofund.org

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Duct Tape

A look back. It was a few days this side of last Christmas. Portland weather was brutal, everyone was cold and getting colder. Tents popped up pretty much everywhere. Doorways, curbs, sidewalks. He had his gear set up and now he was helping someone else set up their tent. That person was older, steadied by a walker, holding tight while simultaneously trying to weave a well-used plastic tarp onto the opening to his tent, or what might have once been a tent and was now only part of a tent. The wind flurried the tarp like a kite, while he also held tight to his walker, thus the need for more hands. The younger man jumped in to help, his dog danced alongside.

The moment I got there the older man turned to me out of the blue and said “some duct tape would be nice.” I had some in my car and grabbed it; it was silver grey, the basic color. The older man had a crisp sense of humor, and thanked me for not carrying bright yellow duct tape. He said when you’re on the street you don’t want weird colored duct tape. Then he laughed.
The dog that danced was a mocha colored wiggle butt pit bull. He tried to help, biting at the fluttering tarp. The man said the dog was 12 but still thought he was a puppy. How long had they been together? The whole time, he said.

He bought him from a box to give him a chance and it was the best thing he’d ever done. This dog just beamed one of those side-to-side full face smiles that only Pibbles can smile; he knew he was loved. And when I went to pet him he swallowed my hand in one giant slurp like only Pibbles can do, he just decided my hand was perfect for gumming like his most favorite toy. But it was the way he did it; it could not have been more gentle.

I wanted to do something for them, something more than the half-used roll of duct tape. I’d given out all my gear to others, all I had left was money in my pocket. I was ok with that, there’s so many things that people on the streets need money for, the same things that you and I do. But when you have no money, it means even more. The older man happily accepted; he thanked me graciously and tucked it into his wallet which I could see held no other money.

When I started to hand money to the younger man, he declined. He said he didn’t want to owe me anything and asked if I would instead donate the money to someone else who needed it more. Then he suddenly said, “WAIT, I’ve got an idea.” He started to rummage through his gear, talking while he rummaged, he said there was this place that helps him, he could not remember the name but had something with their information. He pulled back out of his tent and held up a bag to show me and asked if I’d donate the money to them. He went on and on about this group, how much they’d helped him.

He read me the name on the bag: The Pongo Fund.

It was another one of those moments when I knew that Pongo, Scooby, each one of you and so many more were right there with me, beaming. And maybe that’s why his sweet dog friend had been smiling so big the whole time, why he kissed me with so many gentle kisses; because he knew my Pongo secret. When I got there I thought they needed everything. Then I realized they already had it all.

I stopped by a couple of days later with a quick drive by to say hello and gave him a couple of nondescript brown shopping bags. One for the older man with the walker and one for him. The one for him had more Pongo dog food, some treats, a gift card to a nearby grocer, socks, a hat and some dog gear. And separately I handed him a printed receipt from The Pongo Fund. He asked me what that was for; I reminded him that he’d asked me to donate some money to The Pongo Fund and so I did. My donation was made in his name. He smiled a smile he didn’t expect to smile, and he said thank you.

He said he didn’t have anything for me, except a hand shake. I told him that was perfect.

Being a helper.

And this is why we Pongo.

To read more stories like this, please sign up for our very occasional newsletter here: http://bit.ly/2CVq34E.

Sit. Stay. Eat. Live. thepongofund.org
#thepongofund #love #oregon #petfoodbank #newsletter

***The Pongo Fund is Oregon’s Pet Food Bank. Because hungry people have hungry pets. Our award winning and volunteer driven group helps more animals than any other group in Oregon by providing high quality food and vital veterinary care for the family pets of anyone in honest need, keeping them safe, healthy and out of the shelters. 100,000 animals helped; 10,000,000 healthy meals provided. We would be honored if you SHARE this post so that others will also know of our good work***

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Red, Not Orange

Red syringes. Orange are the most common, but she needs red. Most of you won’t understand. But you will in a minute. And you’ll never forget. She was a longtime drug addict, those are her words, not ours. IV drug use was her survival tool. She lost pretty much everything because of it. And then she stopped. She did it herself, it was that or die. She lives in a place with a lot of other folks who face some challenges. But they persevere, they survive. They live their lives, but always aware of the triggers that wait to hit them when they’re not looking. Like orange syringes.

Her cat, a sweet older girl named Samantha, she’s in bad shape. Diabetes has taken a toll, and for those without funds, finding the money for the bloodwork and the insulin is about as likely as winning a lottery. And that’s where The Pongo Fund comes in. Because sometimes having us on your team is like winning the lottery. Those were her words too.

The connection between these two runs deep, losing one means losing both. Samantha could barely walk, her system was shutting down. Dr. Melissa and Dr. Robin ran the bloodwork on the spot; the results told us what we needed to know. It wasn’t good. She needed insulin, and she would keep needing insulin. As many of you might know, small non-profit groups don’t provide insulin. It’s expensive. And the need continues every time a bottle runs empty. And then the bloodwork rechecks. And then more insulin. But Samantha would die without it. And maybe her Mom too.

We’ve got this little emergency bank account, for veterinary care and supplies, some of you donate to this fund for times like this. There’s not a lot there, but it’s for matters of life and death. This was that.

Yes, we got the insulin. But back to those syringes. We needed red ones, not orange. Here comes the punch to your gut. Because the orange ones were the syringe of choice for IV drug addicts, and she used them for years. Just looking at them brought back the anxiety, the urge. They called her name. She was brave enough to tell us. Because giving Samantha’s Mom orange syringes would be taking her back in time to a dark place. And all it takes is one moment, one mistake.

She said anything but orange, she pleaded with us. We found red. And while that may not seem like a world of difference to you, it was for her. And for Samantha.

Because two days after the insulin started, Samantha was doing better. How did we know? Because her Mom called to tell us. She was so thankful she wanted to share the news. It will take time, but it was a start. She was starting to walk a little bit again, her appetite was returning. Both were great news. All because we had red syringes.

Today is Wednesday, January 10th. I bet you never thought you’d spend a moment thinking about red syringes. But that’s how life goes. You think about what size coffee to get. You think about traffic. You think about dinner. You think about George Clooney because you know it’s true, you always think about George Clooney.

For us, we think about red syringes. Not orange. Red.

Being there for those when they need us most.

And this is why we Pongo.

To read more stories like this, please sign up for our very occasional newsletter here: http://bit.ly/2CVq34E.

Sit. Stay. Eat. Live. thepongofund.org
#thepongofund #love #oregon #petfoodbank #newsletter

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We Helped

She had a home, she had a partner. He drank. He hit. He hurt her. She left, taking whatever she could fit into her car. Which meant she didn’t take much, because the entire back seat was dedicated to her pug. His bed, his blankets, his toy basket. His food was kept in the front seat because while she loved him, she knew he could not be trusted to guard his own food. I’m sure he felt differently, but you know those pugs. They look at you with those eyes and poof, you’re under their spell.

Things were bad, but she said they could be worse. And that’s one of the most common things we hear from those we help. Things could always be worse. I’m talking about the man with one shoe who was thankful he had one shoe because he still had one shoe. The homeless woman whose bra straps were held together with duct tape but she still had a bra. The elderly man whose eyeglasses were now two monocles’s because they had been broken too many times to tape back together. You get the idea.

A reminder that we don’t need to wear rose-colored glasses to be thankful. We just need to be thankful. And it is absolutely one of the strongest messages we hear from those we help. I’m not saying I’m always good at it, because it’s easy to forget how blessed we are. But the reminders are always there when we’re ready to see them.

She found me at the grocery store by the bottle return. I was there to help a homeless man who chauffeurs his older dog around town in a bike trailer; the dog has no idea that every dog does not get such care. That’s where she saw me, the Pongo logo on my shirt was the giveaway. We’d helped her many times, including right after she’d left the man who beat her. She relied on The Pongo Fund for dog food, frequently getting it from the food pantries that we give food to. Since we began, that’s always been our plan, to reach more people by meeting them where they are. Since many people turn to food pantries for their own food, we always make sure they have pet food too.

I’d not seen her for years, but I remembered her. And now she was pushing a cart with groceries. Not a lot of them, but still, she was shopping at a grocery store. What did that mean?

She waited until I was done helping the dog in the trailer, and she walked back to say hello. I remembered meeting her, we got her into a motel for a couple nights so she could gather her thoughts because things were a mess. I remembered she was in a panic, worried about her dog more than anything. Anyway, that was years earlier. And now she’s shopping for groceries.

She decided that every day she would do her best to do one thing better than the day before. They were still in their car, but she kept it clean. And she took whatever work she could and she saved and began to rebuild. And then one day, with some help, they got their place. And she thanked me for how The Pongo Fund was always there for them when they needed us, with dog food and people food and more for both of them.

Because she said there were days that felt too heavy, and she wasn’t sure she could continue to carry that weight. But she did, because he needed her and she needed him. And that kept her going.

And in that moment there could not have been a louder message, a more clear reminder as to why we do what we do. Because The Pongo Fund gives a chance to animals that might not otherwise have a chance and gives hope to families who have little else to be hopeful for. Because sometimes a simple bowl of kibble is the force that both keeps a family together and saves the lives of the animals they love.

She walked back to her car and a minute later she was back again, she handed me a fistful of cash. I don’t know how much was there because the amount didn’t matter. What mattered is what it meant. And it meant they would be paying it forward for the next time. Like ships passing in the night, I don’t know if we’ll see them again. But we were there for them when they needed us most, and that’s what matters.

And this is why we Pongo.

To sign up for our occasional newsletter, please click here: http://bit.ly/2CVq34E

Sit. Stay. Eat. Live. thepongofund.org
(For safety and privacy, photo is stock image and not dog mentioned above)