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Fostering an animal leads to finding a 'furever' home

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Pongo shows off his positive and playful personality by sporting a pair of sunglasses.

Many of us love and care for our pets as if they are family and can easily remember the day they came into our lives and stole a piece of our heart.

It was just before Christmas of last year when Gillian Kelk was volunteering at the Humane Society of Sullivan County that she
immediately became drawn to a little dalmatian puppy named Pongo.

“He was the sweetest, gentlest puppy,” Kelk said.

She knew Pongo couldn't stay in the shelter and took him into her own home to foster.

“He basically needed to gain some weight,” Kelk said. “I thought, ‘ I’m pretty good at gaining weight myself, surely I can fatten this boy up,’” she said.

An instant bond formed between Kelk and Pongo, and he also immediately
befriended Kelk’s other dog, Sargent Pepper, as well.

To Kelk, it quickly became quite evident Pongo was part of the family.

“Within a day or two I knew there was no way I was going to give him up,” Kelk said.

While she has rescued several other dogs, Kelk says Pongo is definitely special.

Pongo suffers from a hip injury and requires a bit of extra care.

Kelk says she has to be careful to not over-exercise him and, because he is unable to jump, she has to lift him in and out of the car.

Sargent instantly began looking out for his new friend and Kelk says they simply began including Pongo in everything they did.

To those who are looking to foster pets, Kelk says, “Just do it.”

She, of course, has no regrets and says Pongo seems to know the important role she plays in his life.

“This is where he belongs,” Kelk said.

By fostering, Kelk says “you’ll form a bond unlike any other.”

Since coming into Kelk’s home, Pongo has been taking Canine Good Citizen classes and graduates in three weeks.

In class, Kelk says Pongo is a star pupil. She says he is very attentive and listens well.

“I have not had a student who works as hard as he does,” trainer and
owner of Both Ends of the Leash Linda Powell said.

Pongo’s poorly healed injury doesn’t hold him back at all.

“He even went through our agility course and didn’t stop at any of them (the obstacles). He just went right through them all,” Powell.

Powell also describes Pongo as quiet and gentle.

“He’s just an ideal student,” Powell added.

After finishing classes, Kelk plans to start Pongo in courses to train him to become a therapy dog.

“I really feel he’s got the perfect temperament for that,” Kelk said.

Once Pongo becomes a certified therapy dog, Kelk plans to take him to visit local nursing homes and possibly children’s hospitals — “anywhere he can bring a smile to peoples’ faces,” she said.

If you live in Sullivan County and wish to foster a pet, visit www.thssc.org and click on “Provide a Foster Home!” Foster
applications are available at the facility.

On the THSSC’s website, it states, “Please remember Foster Animals are NOT ready for adoption. Sometimes preparing for adoption takes a little longer for certain animals. Animals that will be looking for foster homes will include: adults, puppies, kittens, nursing mothers and litters, sick animals, injured animals, undersocialized animals, hospice care animals (and) special needs animals. This will not be a foster to adopt program, all animals are expected to be returned to THSSC on agreed upon date.”

While fostering an animal can be a challenge, especially if that animal has endured injuries, Kelk assures everyone it is well worth it.

“These animals may not live as long, but will love you just as much, if not more,” Kelk said.


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