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Goodbye For Now

This is a hard one. Jack and Oliver were discharged. I missed them by less than 10 minutes. As someone told me, maybe I was supposed to miss them by ten minutes. Maybe saying goodbye would have been too hard. But still.

Jack shared his words carefully, not just with me, but with the nursing team too. I’ve found this to be the case with a lot of homeless people. Sometimes saying little is their safe haven. Oliver, on the other hand, loved to talk. He squealed with delight every chance he could, using his voice, his ears, his paws, whatever he had, to speak his love. When he sat up and wrapped his paws around my neck and pulled me close, when he slurped my face like a cupcake with frosting, I melted on the spot.

One of the many lessons I’ve learned these past few years, is that we must meet people where they are, on their terms. Not just where they are physically, but where they are emotionally. And that’s why The Pongo Fund sometimes bends without breaking. Rules are rules are rules but if someone in dire need of help just can’t meet all the rules then sometimes we need to adjust the rules. And that’s why everything we did for Jack, we did on his terms.

Jack and Oliver hit the jackpot when they met The Pongo Fund. They both knew it too. But while Jack struggled with it, Oliver did not. He was a therapy dog, never far from Jack’s side. That was his job. One of the nurses told me they could barely get those two apart. One time when Jack was too weak to walk one of the nurses volunteered for Oliver’s potty break, but Oliver struggled to leave Jack. Yet Oliver saw me differently, somehow trusting me like an old friend. Maybe we didn’t speak the same language in words, but we spoke the same language in love. Me and that dog, we had a thing.

The Pongo Fund brought Oliver food, bedding, treats, leashes, love and so much more, along with all that great veterinary care from Dr. Alayson and CVT Marie. But at the same time we were there for Jack every step of the way.

Jack did not want to go back to the homeless shelter, so we worked on a plan to get him housed for the next 30-60 days. We had things set up with food, shelter, someone to regularly check on him, someone to drive him to medical appointments, pretty much the full-meal-deal. Because making sure Jack was safe meant that Oliver would be safe too. That’s one of our mantras: by helping one we help both.

But conversations with Jack were both brief and delicate, because Jack was still unsure why a total stranger would be doing all that we were doing. The offer of any help was not easy for him to accept. So it was baby steps. We were there for Oliver, and Jack appreciated that, but each time we also made sure to do everything we could for Jack. And it was working, with Jack opening up a tiny bit more each chance we had.

The discharge notice came earlier that morning; there wasn’t much of a plan. And that’s how we missed him by 10 minutes. And as much as I wish it were different, that’s what the world had planned.

In this line of work, it’s imperative to celebrate the small victories. Jack and Oliver, they are just two of the tens of thousands The Pongo Fund has touched during these past few years. And despite the frequent sadness of many situations, there are also many things to celebrate. And at times like this we need to quickly find those things and celebrate them for the blessings they are.

Jack and Oliver both had clean, warm beds to sleep in, good food to eat, fresh water to drink, and a place where they were safe. I don’t know the last time they had those things in such abundance.

And this is really cool. As I’ve noted several times, Jack didn’t say much. But here’s one of the small victories, and we never saw this one coming. When Dr. Alayson, CVT Marie, and I left their room and were just one or two steps out the door in the hall, all of a sudden Jack was a chatterbox, talking to Oliver about all sorts of things.

A reminder that none of us know what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes. Jack didn’t easily talk to us, but he had no problem talking to Oliver.

And here’s one more thing to celebrate, but you may need to read this part twice to really get it. Because sometimes finding the celebration is like peeling back an onion. Not right there in the first or second layer, but just below that.

When Jack left he was not in the best of shape by any means. But that’s his new normal. As he left, I’m told it was more of a shuffle than a walk. But still, it was something. He was weak, but yet he managed to gather the things that were most important and somehow hold them tight. A big bag of dog food for Oliver; the stainless food bowls and leashes and new collar and Oliver’s toys, those are the things he took. He also made sure to take the new jackets we’d bought for him, socks, hat and more. Remember when he asked for a jacket? We got him two!

I’m not sure how he carried all of that, but he did. Sadly, he was unable to take Oliver’s new bed. Truly, it was huge, so I took that with me and the next dog to use it will enjoy knowing that Oliver used it too.

But maybe the most important of all, was that Jack found a way to take with him the prescription medications Dr. Alayson had prescribed for Oliver, the ones she’d filled right there on the spot. If only you could have seen what I saw in that moment.

Jack in his hospital bed, blankets pulled tight to fight the chill, surrounded by all of his own medications. And there, a few feet away, were medications for Oliver. There was something perfect about that moment.

Dr. Alayson even wrote a daily prescription log with check boxes to make sure Jack knew what medication to give and when to give it. There was no computer, no fancy paperwork; just a handwritten page with words and boxes. This is veterinary medicine old school. And a reminder that sometimes all the fancy equipment in the world can’t take the place of human compassion.

Being there for Jack and Oliver. Godspeed and Good Health to you both.

And this is why we Pongo.

I would be honored if you share this post.

Sit. Stay. Eat. Live.
#petfoodbank #freeveterinarycare #portland #dog #cat #love

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Breaking Boundaries Like Never Before

Even if you stare at this photo for ten minutes it’s still not enough. And if you want to be a veterinarian or a vet tech, stare even longer. Because what you’re looking at you’ve likely never seen before. I know I haven’t. And I was there. Dr. Alayson, medical director of one of the area’s largest veterinary clinics, and Marie, her lead CVT, doing their veterinary work in the patient room of a human hospital. Honestly, I don’t know how to tell you what I saw today. We were there for 90 minutes, scrunched into the corner, with homeless Jack watching from his bed, hooked up to tubes and lines and observing every detail as 11 year-old Oliver got the royal treatment head to tail.

Right there on the spot we did the full exam and administered treatment. And in the next few days we’ll have the groomer onsite for a big bubbly Oliver bath and we’ll get a masseuse there too, to massage Oliver’s achy bones like never before. Oliver is the best friend in the world to this man who has little and cares for even less. But Oliver is Jack’s everything. And by helping one, we know we’re helping both. Because even the homeless deserve the best care ever.

We left behind medications and hand written instructions, bags of food and treats, and all sorts of stuff for Jack. Because when you have more than you need, you must share with those who do not. And that’s what we did today. We shared the love. And it felt great!

Breaking boundaries to do what no one else does, these are the rare moments that The Pongo Fund is making common, by asking veterinary professionals to donate their time to provide the kind of care that goes beyond words. I’m struggling to write this now, I don’t know why but I am. I was there, I watched it all, and I’m still not sure how to describe it.

But what I can tell you is this, that I cannot be more proud than I am right now to be part of The Pongo Fund. We have become the Little Engine That Could. And we are rewriting the book on what it means to do something special.

As for Jack, unable to leave his bed he watched with pride, the Proud Papa who knew what was happening was something deeply meaningful. As for Oliver, he soaked up the attention like the love bug he is, splaying flat out on the floor every chance he could for belly rubs and treats. Even cuddling us while Marie gave him the best mani/pedi ever. And when he wasn’t doing that he was tossing his little baby to and fro, squeaking with delight that he had new friends to play with. And when we were done, Dr. Alayson, Marie and I took Oliver on the biggest walk he’s had in ages.

Seriously, when’s the last time your veterinarian took your dog for a walk?

There is a lot more to tell, but my words are locked up right now. I know what to say, but I don’t know how to say it. My heart hurts. Two TV stations asked for info on this story, but out of respect we declined. Because what happened today was personal and private and is to be shared only with those of you who are part of us.

To Dr. Alayson and CVT Marie, part of the magnificent team at VCA East Mill Plain Animal Hospital, I bow down to you with the utmost of respect and appreciation. What you did today is the stuff of legend and has set the bar higher than ever before.

This post deserves to be shared, so please share near and far, because people need to know that business as usual is not enough anymore. That breaking boundaries will make the biggest difference, and that’s what we did today. To nurses everywhere, thank you for letting The Pongo Fund be part of your heart. Because two legs or four, we are all in this together.

“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

Being there for Jack and Oliver.

And this is why we Pongo.

Sit. Stay. Eat. Live.
#thepongofund #petfoodbank #freeveterinarycare #VCA#vcaeastmillplainanimalhospital #savinglives #CVT

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I Love This Guy

I don’t know where to start. Seriously, I’ve been staring at this first sentence for the past hour. My heart hurts. There are so many things in life that I cannot change. Jack and Oliver are part of that. Jack and Oliver, the homeless man and his dog who are together in Jack’s hospital room. Together because the wonderful nursing team decided that it was the right thing to do. I saw them again today, and in so many ways, I almost want to move into that room with them. You have no idea how much I love them.

If you could see these two, oh man, your heart would burst. The moment I walked in I found Oliver curled up on his bed. That’s the ginormous bed that you helped us get for him because he had no bed of his own.

Granted, Oliver was not shy about sharing Jack’s bed, but the guy has lines and tubes and he deserves some bed of his own. So it took Oliver a day or two to understand the new bed was HIS BED, and from that moment on, that’s been his place to hang. And from what I hear, he loves it.

The moment I walked in he began to squeal. You know the squeal, it’s the sound we all dream of. Part purr, part Ella Fitzgerald, part Joni Mitchell. And that’s before he even saw I had a new bag of food, more treats, and a soft little baby for him to cuddle. After a quick greeting to Jack, I was on the floor with Oliver. I think I massaged every part of that giant body of his, even some little tickles on his tongue. I had the best time ever.

But maybe the biggest bonus of the day was that Jack finally opened up a little bit. He’s still pretty careful with his words, so if you’re expecting a long story, he’s not your guy. But the few words he did share was a step in the right direction. And the third time I asked him if there’s anything at all that he needed, he finally said yes, maybe there was. What is it, I’m wondering, anything, just tell me and I’ll get it.

A new coat.

His current coat is battered and its heavy and when it gets wet it’s too waterlogged for him to wear. The days are getting a bit warmer, so he thought maybe a lighter weight coat would be nice. Seriously, that’s what he asked for. He rubbed the genie bottle and his wish was for a coat. Nothing fancy, color doesn’t matter. Just something he could wear outside with Oliver.

Was there anything else? Anything? Anything at all?

I kept hinting at different things and then he looked at my sweatshirt and said maybe a sweatshirt would be nice too, maybe he could wear that when he didn’t need the coat. A coat and a sweatshirt. No color preferences. No fancy brand. Just a basic coat and a sweatshirt.

It was a start.

And that’s why very soon I’ll be out shopping to buy Jack what may be the first new coat and new sweatshirt he’s had in years. I don’t know why, but I’m a bit nervous.

And I’m honored more than you know.

Being there for Jack and Oliver.

And this is why we Pongo.

Sit. Stay. Eat. Live.
#thepongofund #petfoodbank #freeveterinarycare #love #portland

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A Tough Road Ahead

Thank you to everyone for helping us meet the match for Jack & Oliver. I saw them again today, it’s a tough road ahead. Jack has some heavy healing to do, thankfully Oliver is there with him. But this will take more than just Oliver. When I walked in both of them greeted me happily, one of them a little more happily than the other because of the treats in my hand. I also brought along a giant bed, because this is a giant dog. It’s such a heartfelt feeling to see all these things lined up along the wall; fresh bag of kibble, the bed, the food bowl, water, treats.

Oliver is such a chill guy, but he got so excited when he saw me that he went to his food bowl and picked up a few kibble and dropped them at my feet. He waited until I picked them up. They were for me. The ultimate compliment, he made me part of his pack.

I got down on my knees to thank him, gave him some hugabugs, some neck noodles, then I found his sweet spot, the smackem spot on his heinie and I rumpathumped him a few times and got his generator leg going bigtime. His tongue was out, flailing this way and that. That’s one of the photos, sorry it’s blurry, but my good hand was being used for the rumpathumps and this is the best photo I could get. But the big circle there, that’s his tongue, happy dancing. It’s like it had a life of its own.

His Providence nursing team is just the best, they greeted me with a smile even though I’m carrying a giant dog bed, when’s the last time you saw that in a hospital? And yet, they were so happy to see me and they know I’ll be back again soon. Seeing Oliver happy helps Jack too, and that’s the least I can do, right?

It’s a beautiful day in Portland, sunny skies, the birds are out, a day like this is a special gift. Yet this is still reality. Jack is in the hospital, he’s not well; he’s homeless otherwise. Thankfully the most important thing in the world is there with him, but other than that, a sobering reminder of how life works.

I’m talking to Jack about some things he might need, and as I looked around the room it hit me. He’s got nothing. These are hard moments. The sunny day is not there for Jack, he keeps his window blind drawn. Oliver is the sunshine for them both, of course he is. Man’s Best Friend.

I’ll be there again soon.

For Jack and Oliver.

And this is why we Pongo.

Sit. Stay. Eat. Live.

(Jack & Oliver are not their real names, for privacy names have been changed)
#love #hospital #nurses #homeless #dog #pongo #portland #oregon

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Jack & Oliver & Providence

This one will hit you hard. Providence Hospital is one of numerous hospitals throughout Oregon who turn to The Pongo Fund when their patients have pets. Jack and Oliver are the best of friends and if you saw them you’d see how tight these two are. They’re also homeless. Which means when Jack ended up there, Oliver had nowhere to go. Some hospitals tell people to leave their pets in the car, or to chain them outside. Mike has no car, so Oliver came inside too. And that’s when one of the superhero RN’s called The Pongo Fund.

Our Emergency Kibble Response Team had four Emergency Kibble Couriers on the job yesterday, and for this call I had the honor of responding. Our EKRT members carry emergency supplies with them, so I was able to get there quickly with food, treats and other supplies. Walking into a human hospital carrying a big bag of dog food brings some odd looks, but that’s ok, this is the work we do.

Oliver is a gentle giant, honestly, the sweetest guy ever, his mouth soft as a feather. He sits for treats, he plays with his baby, he jumps back onto the bed to nap with Dad. Oliver is the best medicine.

But none of this would have happened were it not for the nursing team who took the lead and called Pongo. Nurses save the world every day. And yesterday, they were there for Oliver too.

The best part, now Jack and Oliver are part of The Pongo Fund. From this day forward we’ll be there for them every step of the way. Food, veterinary, the works. We’ll be stopping in to see them again later, and if you’d like to donate to help these two, please click here and write Jack & Oliver in the comments.

I hope you SHARE this story so that others will also know the great work that we do.

For Jack and Oliver and for the nurses who love them.

And this is why we Pongo.

Sit. Stay. Eat. Live.

(Jack & Oliver are not their real names, for privacy names have been changed)
#love #hospital #nurses #homeless #dog #pongo #portland #oregon

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Clean Hands Still Dirty

It’s not a selfie. It’s a reminder. A reminder that sometimes you have an opinion, and sometimes you are the opinion. Like this moment. When someone else’s opinion reminded me of how hard the hustle can be. Even if you just want to wash your hands for lunch.

I’ve been helping the homeless since college. And yes, I know what it’s like to spend chunks of time on the street. But I did it on purpose, with the good fortune of knowing I could leave at any moment. That’s the blessing. And that’s why working with the homeless is still such a strong focus area for me and for The Pongo Fund. Because the need is great. Because no one should suffer.

This is a big and heated conversation and there’s more opinions than answers. But when they have animals, when they need help, when they ask for so little, it’s time to put our opinions aside and do what we can. That’s my opinion.

The Pongo Fund is working on a new project to help the homeless and their animals. I was walking the streets and stopped into a small place for a quick lunch. I was adorned in a Pongo cap, a second-hand black jacket, a well-worn yellow fleece, blue jeans, basic shoes. I’d shaved a couple days earlier.

My hands needed some scrubbing; I asked about using the restroom. The woman was busy, maybe she didn’t hear me. I asked again. She said it was for customers only. I said I wanted to wash my hands then I’d be back to order. She shrugged, like she’d heard it too many times before. She said I’m really not supposed to let you, but she pointed, I quickly followed before her kindness went away. I felt dirty as I walked to the back corner, and that’s when I got a glimpse of myself in the mirror.

To me I looked normal, like someone wanting to wash their hands before they ate lunch. I spend a lot of time on the street, this is how I look. A moment later I was back and thanked the woman for letting me wash up. She didn’t reply. I thanked her again. Without looking up, she said “sure, whatever.”

There was no other acknowledgment, other than me feeling like it was time for me to leave. I had money in my pocket, I really did want to get some lunch. But I left. Not because of her. Just because.

I passed lots of people bundled on the sidewalk and I wondered where they wash their hands when they eat lunch? But I knew.

The woman, she was young with kind eyes. I felt bad for her, what a difficult burden to bear. Working in a neighborhood surrounded by the harshness of winter homelessness can’t be easy. She wasn’t mean. She was just doing her job. Protecting the restroom because before you know it, you’ll find a line of people bathing there. And that’s not right either.

But how will she bounce back from these moments, of being asked to quickly judge someone’s ability to pay for lunch, and then based on that, allowing them the secret instructions to where to restroom is? She is too young to carry that weight.

I had clean hands but felt dirty.

An older woman sat on the wet sidewalk. She held two cigarette butts, one in each hand. These were not the kind of cigarettes you buy, these were the kind that had already been someone else’s cigarettes before. She talked to herself. She looked sad.

A few feet away a woman stood with her lifetime of possessions overflowing from a small cart. She had a backpack next to her cart, a small dog inside, head sticking out. She wore a front pack with another small dog snuggled tight. It was below freezing, the wind was no one’s friend. The street was their home. How did she stay warm?

An elderly man in a wheelchair, he was missing a leg. He had no coat, just a sweater that looked like it knew many winters. He pushed himself along; his arms the motor. The remaining leg grabbed the pavement in unison, pull, push; pull, push. He saw me watch him. A dog on his lap.

A woman with a walker struggled with a small bag draped over the handles. A small dog walked alongside, connected to a small leash in her hand. I hope the bag held lunch for both of them. She had no coat, the dog did.

Sometimes I feel lost in my own city.

My solace was knowing we’d be back again soon.

“Remember to be gentle with yourself and others. We are all children of chance and none can say why some fields will blossom while others lay brown beneath the August sun.” –Kent Nerburn

Sit. Stay. Eat. Live.

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His mouth is a mess and that’s led to all sorts of problems, but we’re on it fast. Harvey’s 10 but there’s so much more to this guy than his 10 years tell, something old-soul-in-a-big-kind-of-way. I sensed it the moment we met. I could not help but touch that Jimmy Durante schnozzle of his. That, and his head, and his ears, and his neck, and well, you get the idea. This is one special guy. Plus, he has a British accent, so when you talk with him, you swear you’re talking to Winston Churchill. He’s just a peaceful soul, channeling his inner Gandhi, and yes, his inner Scooby too. Maybe that’s who brought him to us?

His Mom, she does a great job with him. But living on just $407 monthly in SSI, she struggles to keep it together. After gasoline, auto insurance, utilities, basic expenses and everything that food stamps does not cover, she’s left with pennies. Yet she’ll often go without to make sure that Harvey has what he needs.

And right now this guy needs a dental, and he needs it bad; his messy mouth condition has led to other things gone wrong too. So by fixing one we hope to fix them all. The estimate provided by his regular veterinarian exceeded $2,000, and it would take a miracle for her to have that much money. The reality is that there’s absolutely no way she can afford that care. Until now, that is.

Because by working inside PONGO ONE, our Mobile Veterinary Hospital, we can do it for a lot less.

And that’s where you come in. Because your donations help us prepare to save lives for Little Princes like Harvey. And that means this Wednesday, Harvey will join the long list of kind souls receiving care from The Pongo Fund. We’ve got a chunk of time blocked out for him because we know there will be a bunch of extractions too, but when we’re done, this sweet guy’s smile will sparkle once again.

Donating to our Emergency Medical Fund is quick and easy:

Being there for Harvey when he needs us most.

And this is why we Pongo.

Sit. Stay. Eat. Live.
#pongoone #thepongofund #portland #freevetcare #petfoodbank

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I saw them as I drove up, a man sat in the driver seat, a big fluffy dog hung his head out the window. I smiled at the scene. Then suddenly the man was outside my window. He quietly asked if I worked with The Pongo Fund, I said yes. He asked for some information; we talked, I gave him the website address. He said he would find a laptop to learn more. Find a laptop; I know what that means. I complimented him on his dog, still hanging out the window, big smile on his face. His face lit up, he loved that dog.

He asked about some of the details I’d shared; we walked through things again. He spoke slowly, his words arrived with consideration. He asked about food. He needed to find a laptop. He quietly asked about food again. There were a couple other things too. Sometimes you play the hunch.

I asked him if they needed food. He said no. He shuffled his feet, he looked down, he said no again, they were ok. Then he said they’ll be ok. They were ok or they’ll be ok, those were two different things.

He’ll find a laptop and read about us and he’ll come back if he ever needs food. There was that “find a laptop” again. I asked what kind of food he fed his dog, his name was Hobbs, and he rattled off a list of things but none of them was dog food. I waited. He continued. Hobbs hung out the window. And when it felt right, I again asked if they needed food. He said no. I asked what Hobbs had for breakfast. He said they hadn’t eaten yet. It was 2pm. They hadn’t eaten.

I asked about dinner last night. He shuffled. I did an end run with the same conversation, hoping to get further. And finally we got there. They’d been out of food for a while, he didn’t remember how long. But instead of talking about food he wanted to talk about Hobbs. About what a great friend he was, about how much he loved him. That was the conversation that brought him joy; talking about being out of dog food made him sad. Hobbs didn’t care; he just loved hearing his name.

In the back of my car I had food. I got him a bag, a big bag, and we walked the few feet to his car and put it in the back seat. Hobbs was on it immediately, happy dancing next to this bag of food that would be his breakfast and dinner for today, tomorrow and for days to come. Hobbs regained his driver seat position, and a moment later he jumped out the window to thank me in person.

This dog that was soft like cotton pushed his head into my legs, getting ear scritchies and head bops and butt smacks. And he pushed more and I gave more and the man, he looked at how happy Hobbs was and he looked at the bag of food and he stood silent.

I had just left an emergency situation that we could not help, now we’ll work on the palliative side of things, that happens sometimes but it hurts. And now here was this dog giving me a chance to think about something else. I needed that, I really needed that.

This man, he quietly said “thank you, you don’t know how much this means to us.” I told him, both of them, that they were welcome.

But the truth was, they didn’t know how much it meant to me. Because it meant a lot.

“Thank you too,” I said, “Thank you too.”

For Hobbs. Hungry no more.

And this is why we Pongo.

Sit. Stay. Eat. Live.

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This is The Pongo Fund at our best. Doing what needs to be done. Leading with Love. Following with Compassion. Honey has a baseball sized mammary mass, it’s leaking brown fluid. That’s not good. She also had a bad limp limiting her ability to walk, and she’s got an upset stomach. We saw her last week, I’ve got the photos of the leaking mass but did not post them because I struggled with the words. That’s happening a lot these days. Too many moments, not enough words.

But we saw what we needed to see and we slated Honey for surgery later this month. It’s a big surgery, the estimate they got from another vet put it over $2,500, an amount these financially strapped folks could never afford. So thanks to you and your contributions, we’ll do it for them. We also sent her home with some meds for the limp and upset stomach. She was such a sweet girl. Honey is the perfect name.

Yesterday her people called and said Honey was not eating. That’s not good. So we quickly interrupted schedules and met at PONGO ONE to do some checking. But no one told Honey she wasn’t feeling good. She came bounding into the hospital without any limp, a big smile on her face. Maybe she remembers the great treats we have?

PONGO ONE has two exam tables, easiest on the back to use them. But Honey likes the floor so that’s where we gathered. Five people inside PONGO ONE, and Sweet Honey. We spent a lot of time examining and talking.

To Honey, that is, we talked to Honey.

For example, she told us she does not like spray bottles, they scare her. Since we spray alcohol to clean before taking blood, that meant no spray bottle. But Honey was ok with an alcohol soaked cotton ball, so we used that instead. It’s there on Dr. Melissa’s leg. Because this moment, it’s all about Honey.

Look at her eyes. Even with the muzzle, with everything going on, her eyes were peaceful. She knew she was safe.

As for her loss of appetite, it was back quickly when she saw our treat bag. Heartrate good, temperature good, stomach soft, everything right on. And then Dr. Robin ran bloodwork, because PONGO ONE has a full laboratory onboard. Everything was where it should be. What was up with Honey? No one knows. Maybe she just wanted to come back and say hi.

But here’s the thing; Honey wasn’t quite so happy last week. A previous encounter left her suspect around vets and the muzzle didn’t bring out her best side. But we worked through it together and yesterday, it was a piece of cake.

Honey was the star of the show and she loved every minute, Maybe the rectal and the bloodwork were not her favorite moments, but I think she knew we were there to help. Of course she did.

This photo, this moment in time; this is everything. Two veterinarians on the floor doing all they can to make Honey feel good. And together we all celebrated that moment, especially seeing how well Honey was walking just a few days after we treated her limp. Because that limp was gone. Poof! Like it was never there.

And the good lab report means we’re on track for surgery. That means in a couple of weeks, we’ll all get together again to remove that nasty mammary mass.

My point with this post, well, I don’t really know what my point is. I just wanted to share this moment because this moment was pretty special. If you could have seen Honey as she left, a big smile on her face, walking so proud, bouncing this way and that, knowing how brave she was; well, you’d be smiling too.

It was a good day, a very good day.

Being there for Honey. And for thousands more.

And this is why we Pongo.

Sit. Stay. Eat. Live.
#thepongofund #PONGOONE #portland #freevetcare #petfoodbank

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Max And More

Max is doing fantastic. He’s about 5, the sweetest guy. Loved getting hand fed treats. His Mom stepped in to rescue him about a year ago, his situation was bad and she knew he needed help. She gets by on food stamps and collecting cans and bottles, another reminder that those with the least are the ones who often step in to help the most.

Telling her that Max was doing great was everything we hoped for. And it sure did make her smile. Because who wouldn’t want to get good news like that? Heart rate, lungs, skin, ears, eyes, all of the private parts, the whole shebang, we cover it all. Seriously, these aren’t five minute exams. There was some Grade 2 dental to deal with, and we’ll get that another time. When The Pongo Fund and PONGO ONE rolls, this is exactly what we’re hoping for. To deliver good news. Because really, don’t we all long for some good news?

But we also had to deliver some news that wasn’t so good. Not for Max, but for some others. And that’s what we’re here for too. Because sometimes we need to diagnose the bad before we can make it good. So in that moment, it’s a bit of both, the good and the bad. And that’s why later this month PONGO ONE will roll out for some super busy surgery days, including a lot of dentals, and a nasty tumor that needs to come off ASAP.

There’s a lot of folks that cannot afford this level of veterinary care. That’s life, and a reminder it really could be any one of us. But they hope and they pray and they go to the vet for the good news that hits them hard when it’s not good news.

And they wait in the lobby with the best of intentions as the wonderful veterinary staff prepares the estimate to let them know how much it will cost to heal the pain, to pull the teeth, to run the bloodwork, to take the xrays, to treat the arthritis, to biopsy the growth, to remove the tumor, to do what needs to be done.

And while they wait, they pray quietly on the outside and loudly on the inside, hoping it is less than $100, because that is the most they can cobble together but deep inside they know it will be more.

And they still wait, clutching their dog tight to their chest, shaking with fear, wanting to run out the door because they know they cannot afford more than $100. And then the estimate comes back, and the vet has done the best they can to save money, and they’ve even gone back and run the numbers again and donated some pain meds because they want to help, and then the vet sits down with the person and they explain the estimate.

And the person, still holding their dog, still shaking, with the watery eyes they say are allergies but they’re tears, they sit together and look at the estimate that shows $2,000.00. And they pray it’s a mistake.

$2000, how can that be? And the person asks if that’s correct, and the vet understands, she knows what’s at stake, and she says yes, that’s the cost, $2000. And she even shows the items that have been discounted but all the person with the dog with the tumor sees is the $2000 and it could be $2 million because they don’t have it and even if they sell everything they have, everything they own is still worth less.

And with the most gentle tone, the vet who has faced this before suggests they go home and think about it. And this woman leaves, still holding her dog, walking to the bus stop blocks away, and crying because she needs to cry, and the only good part is that her dog loves to lick salty tears. And they go home.

We know this is how it happens because she told us this is how it happens. What do you do then? Besides counting the days and watching the teeth get worse or waiting for the abscess to eat through the cheek or for the tumor to double in size and then break open. Seriously, what do you do?

And that’s why The Pongo Fund is doing what we do. To go where no one else goes. To tackle the delicate surgeries, to tackle some of the toughest cases. We’re absolutely not running away from fighting the fight. Because when we sat around a table eight years ago and started The Pongo Fund, this was our mantra. To be there for the animals. And 100,000 animals later, 100,000 lives saved, that’s exactly what we’re still here to do. To be there for the animals.

To give you an idea of what it means for The Pongo Fund to do the work we do, the cost estimates for the next six surgeries top $10,000.00 in value.

We’re a tiny group with a lot of dedicated volunteers, but still, we’re pretty much just a speck in size. Small but mighty, that’s what we say, and we do all we can, stretching those dollars like they’ve never been stretched before. And then, stretching them again.

But thanks to you, and to your donations to our Emergency Medical Fund, and our volunteer medical team, we’re hoping to do all of those surgeries for FREE, using the operating suite and the labwork and the xray machine tucked happily inside PONGO ONE. Bloodwork, xrays, surgeries, medications, all of it for FREE.

And that $10,000? That’s just one day worth of surgeries. And there’s more waiting after that.

Please understand something, and this is important, because what I’m writing now has nothing to do with the cost of veterinary care. Because there are so many brilliant veterinarians who give it their all every single day. And it’s easy to forget that there’s a lot that goes into that care. Schooling, machines, diagnostics, supplies, rent, overhead; it’s all expensive. Bottom line is that good veterinary care sometimes costs more than we can afford. Just like everything else.

But thankfully we also know some vets who cut costs every chance they can, without ever cutting corners. Those are the vets we adore. And The Pongo Fund has several of them on our side.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

And this is why we Pongo.

Sit. Stay. Eat. Live.

#thepongofund #petfoodbank #veterinarycare #savinglives