A kind gentleman gave us $10. It feels like much more than that. It was the Emergency $10 bill that he’d given his son years ago. His son faced a life of struggle and spent much of his time on the street; Dad always wanted to make sure his son had some money in his pocket for an emergency. They settled on that amount together. His son faced some demons, but these last several years a little dog named Lucy worked her magic and kept him going. Things were still rough, the demons did not leave, but Lucy did her best to keep them at bay. Dad told us that Lucy’s dog food came from The Pongo Fund. He also told us we’d welcomed his son on many occasions when he had no one else to talk to. He said we made a difference. The $10 was in his son’s pocket when he died. Dad now has Lucy and they’re doing great. Dad did everything you can imagine, but sometimes no matter how much you do, it’s still not enough. “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
He said he wanted to pack kibble but not actually pack the kibble. Like, could he manage others while they packed kibble? Something about the call wasn’t right. Then we found out everything was right. He’d raised money for The Pongo Fund but he wanted to do more. He wanted to pack kibble. Except his hands didn’t work the way he needed them to, not for kibble anyway. But he knew others who could. So, would we consider a different kind of kibble pack?
We’ve kibbled senior centers, we’ve kibbled hospitals, we’ve kibbled Autism and Downs, we’ve kibbled domestic violence shelters and we’ve kibbled disabled Veterans. Pretty much, if it can be kibbled, we’ll kibble it.
Remember the elderly man whose wife had recently died, and he wanted to kibble in her honor, except he could not get to us?
So we went to him. Just like we did for this kid. We packed up the Emergency Kibble Response Team, and we went kibbling.
This kid had his own Kibble Crew, we showed them how we kibble, and they took it from there. He has a cat, so they kibbled cat food. This batch happened to be in memory of Maddie Miller, a special friend of The Pongo Fund who crossed the Rainbow Bridge recently.
These kids spent a lot of time laughing. The hardest part was not that his arms were set up differently; it was trying not to spill the kibble with his constant barrage of jokes. This was a super sensitive kid with a heart of gold. Packing kibble was on his bucket list. And he wants to do it again. Count us in.
This was one of those moments we never saw coming. A kid, who for all intents and purposes should not be able to pack kibble, yet rewires the system so he can pack kibble. And the best part, it might be some of the finest kibble ever packed.
Kibbling the World.
And this is why we Pongo.
Don’t Forget! Come see us tomorrow, Saturday 11am-2pm, for Photos With Santa, hosted by Three Paws Neighborhood Pet Supply, 3147 SW Moody, Portland, 97239. These photos are absolutely out of this world great, the cost just $20. And for that $20 you’ll get a super high-quality digital image, entry into an enormous raffle, and for the first 40 people, a gift bag that will knock your socks off. But that’s not all. Because every penny will be donated to charity to help feed hungry animals. And every $20 means another 200 meals for the hungry animals. Plus we’ll have a Santa Special with $25 Pongo hoodies!
We need your help now please. Because these are the hardest times and tens of thousands are counting on us. It’s cold and wet and the need skyrockets when the weather turns nasty and we’re getting hammered with need. That empty pallet should have thousands of pounds of food on it. And we’ve got 19 more empty ones just like it.
Food is the core of what we do. It works the same way for you and your animals too. We all need it. During the past 8 years we’ve provided 12,000,000 meals, helping keep 120,000 animals safe and well fed during the toughest of times. So far we’ve never run out of food, and we’re doing everything we can to make sure we don’t run out now.
We’re very fortunate to work with generous companies who provide us large discounts in our food purchasing. Because the truth is we use far too much to rely solely on a bag here and a bag there and that’s why we purchase a truckload at a time. It also means we can maintain food of the highest quality, each bag fresh and unopened. But right now we need some help to get restocked and carry us through the winter months. Because tens of thousands of people and pets are counting on us.
Your donation to our Food Fund will be TRIPLED. That’s right, it will be tripled. It is our #GivingTuesday promo and we’re doing it ALL WEEK LONG. Please write FOOD FUND in the comments when you donate and we’ll take it from there. Our goal is to raise $20,000 to carry us through the next few months. And if we raise $20,000, we’ll receive $60,000. Will you please help us do that?
Because an empty bowl means an empty stomach. And no animal should ever go hungry.
We have several donation options. Our Give Guide option is a special year-end fundraiser and donations via https://giveguide.org/#thepongofund%20 will also be entered to win a free Pongo Pack with our hoodie, tshirt and knit cap.
Or please donate via our Paypal link using your credit card here https://www.thepongofund.org/contact/donation-page/. You can also set up an easy recurring monthly contribution there too.
And of course we love receiving mail, so please also mail us your check to The Pongo Fund, PO Box 9000, Portland, OR, 97207. Bonus points if you let your dog lick the envelope.
Please help us care for the forgotten, for the hungry, for the left behind, for the abused, the battered and the neglected. Because no animal should go to bed hungry.
Maybe this is what you need today. Some tradition, some gratitude, something to be thankful for. He’s in his late 50’s, his dog is 15. They’ve been homeless for a few months now. They found a small camp of really nice folks, several of them have dogs. We met a couple weeks ago, he asked for a very specific dog food called Thanksgiving Day Dinner. We know the food well; it’s packed with turkey, sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans and more. And for the last many years, this man’s dog has enjoyed that food on Thanksgiving. That is their tradition.
A few months ago everything fell apart, and today, their Thanksgiving will be a very different one. Surrounded by some new friends, they will pool their dollars and head to the store to buy whatever they can. They will not have turkey or mashed potatoes or green bean casserole or any of that. But he said they will still be thankful. He laughed and said it’s probably good they won’t have turkey, because some of the others at the camp are vegan. He made a funny face when he said that, then I told him I’m vegan too, albeit an imperfect one, and I found vegan Thanksgiving to be delicious. He said he’d need to try it sometime.
But that dog food, that was the most important thing.
He wanted to treat each of the dogs at the camp to their own dinner, but each can is about $4 and he only had money for two cans. By chance, did we have any of it to share? Of course he would pay us back soon as he could.
During the past few months this man’s life had turned upside down. He’d lost his job, his home, and much of his self-respect. His dog doesn’t know any of that. Which is why this day, this tradition, is so important. He said it’s most important for his dog, but we know it’s just as important for him. And when self-respect hangs on some cans of dog food, well, we can fix that.
We had the food but told him we didn’t, but we’d get it and deliver it. He said thanks. We made a visit to the camp a few days later, just for a look-see. It was small and tidy and the dogs were in excellent condition. Several of them sported winter coats that The Pongo Fund gave out a few weeks ago, and it turns out they also used the Canidae dog food we provided, so we were glad to know these dogs were well cared for.
We asked about their Thanksgiving plans. They said they’d sit down together about 2pm and share whatever they have. We told them we’d have the dog food there around 1pm. And we left.
And then we made some calls. And those calls were answered.
And that’s why, in just a couple hours from now, as you’re sitting down to dinner, two cars will park at the trailhead and a small group of people will make the short walk to deliver four cans of Thanksgiving Day Dinner dog food.
That’s right. A small group will deliver those four cans of food.
Because along with those four cans will be a Thanksgiving Day Dinner for the people too. Turkey, potatoes, casserole, pie, the works. All of it vegan. All of it prepared and served with love.
Unfortunately I won’t be there in person, but my heart will be. And I send a special thank you to those who answered my call for help and told me they would get it done.
Today is Thanksgiving. I am Thankful for much and for many.
I am Thankful for you.
May your day be filled with Peace, with Joy, with Love.
“If you are really thankful, you share.” – W. Clement Stone
And this is why we Pongo.
There was this cat. And his Mom. They lived in a homeless camp near a Costco store. Jim died, he left behind his cat, he was 16, they’d been together forever. She needed help feeding the cat. But she hated to ask because she knew others had it worse. She lives in a homeless camp and she’s worried about others having it worse?
She collects cans and bottles but these past few weeks have brought less cans and bottles. She said more people seem to be returning them since the deposit doubled to ten cents. You can read the Wall Street Journal but this homeless woman collecting cans and bottles could pretty much tell you the same thing. Economic indicators pointed downward, her bottle returns had decreased. She could not afford cat food.
When I arrived, I saw her bending into the curb and picking up cigarette butts. That’s something that gets me. When someone picks up someone else’s cigarette butts to smoke the last few bits.
I asked about the cat. She said her arthritis was really hurting and she could not carry the cat and the carrier, so the cat stayed at camp. She described the cat, he was a redhead and he liked to cuddle, and he sounded glorious. I asked for a photo, she said she did not have a cell phone. “Do you know how expensive those things are?” I nodded yes, as I silently thought about the phone in my pocket that I take for granted.
She was not a young woman, and you could see that she hurt. But you could also see from her eyes that she did not do drugs, you could smell from her breath that she did not drink. There was also something else that caught my attention. I did not smell cigarettes. But she had been picking up butts. So I asked, why was she picking up the butts?
“Because sometimes the birds eat them by accident and it’s not good for them.”
But it’s not just the butts she picks up.
She said whenever she can, she also picks up the trash that others leave behind. And sure enough, the little stretch of gutter where she was standing was clean. She said that sometimes people see her and call her trash. But she picks up trash. She knows the difference. She wishes they would too.
I’m standing next to a Saint of a Woman. She’s homeless and caring for her dead friend’s cat, collecting cans and bottles that aren’t there, so she can pay for cat food she can’t afford, and all the while spending her free time picking up someone else’s trash while others tell her she is trash.
People drive by in droves, in and out of the Costco lot.
16 days from now will be Thanksgiving. Some moments leave me drained. And some moments leave me drained even more. This was one of those.
“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
The Pongo Fund is a tiny nonprofit group doing some really special work. If you’d like to donate, you can do so here: https://bit.ly/2oUZeYh
Please count your blessings.
And this is why we Pongo.
Sit. Stay. Eat. Live. thepongofund.org
#thepongofund #fortheanimals #love #kindness #blessings #redhead #cat
(photo is not Jim’s cat, but another glorious redheaded cat The Pongo Fund helps)
Here’s a secret we can finally share. Today, Saturday June 2nd, The Pongo Fund will be entry #67 in the Portland Rose Festival PGE / SOLVE Starlight Parade. In one of our biggest compliments ever, the Rose Festival has included The Pongo Fund in this nationally televised event because of the great work we do along with how incredibly beautiful our Mobile Veterinary Hospital is. At 23’ long and 12,000# and affectionately known as PONGO ONE, we won’t be the biggest entry nor have the most elaborate lighting, but we will absolutely be having a great time. Walking alongside PONGO ONE and glowing in orange will be the Pongo Power Dancers. The Starlight Parade is televised nationally; please check your local listings. http://www.rosefestival.org/event/starlight-parade
The Pongo Fund is a small-but-mighty volunteer driven and award winning 501c3 charity that has saved the lives of more than 100,000 dogs, cats and horses by providing them with high-quality food and lifesaving veterinary care when they need it most. Keeping all of them safe at home and out of the shelters. And we do all of it for free. We push the boundaries every chance we can and thanks to you we feel like we can do anything. Because everything we do, we do together.
Being there for those when they need us most.
And this is why we Pongo.
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
Tonight we go where we’ve never gone before. Our first Midnight Clinic. To a safe hamlet that welcomes marginalized women with love and compassion during their toughest times. Many of these women have little, and many of them have even less. But ask them about their animals and they shine; animals who are their everything. So that means when you’re getting ready to head out to dinner, The Pongo Fund, along with our compassionate team of Dr. Melissa and Dr. Robin, will be piloting PONGO ONE, our Mobile Veterinary Hospital, to this soft and gentle place to provide free lifesaving care for all in need. We don’t know what we’ll see so we go with everything, including a ready surgical suite, digital xray, full laboratory, food and more. Thank you to the special woman who is generously sponsoring tonight’s powerful event. Your heart loves for all. Please give us a call if you or your business would like to sponsor another one of our Midnight Clinics because there are several more coming.
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.
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