December 28th, 2015. That was the date that changed my life. On that freezing cold morning, my grandma and I made our way to the SPCA Albrecht Center to bring home our newest family member, Pogo (then known as Sprout).
He was thin, barely had any hair, and some might argue not very handsome, but he was beautiful to me. Pogo was found by Ann Kinney, the SPCA’s Director of Training and Enrichment in the middle of the road, covered with dirt, fleas, and red irritated skin. So of course he was brought to the shelter and was well taken care of by everyone there.
I was a little nervous when bringing Pogo home. He would be my fourth dog and I wasn’t sure how my senior Corgi would get along with him. So luckily, the SPCA let me have a week trial with him just to make sure everything went okay. I knew deep down everything would go great, but I honestly wanted what was best for the tiny dog; even if it meant not living with me.
Well, everything went smoothly and he became attached to me right away. During that one week trial, we decided to go ahead and finalize the adoption. So back to the shelter we went, with Pogo wearing his new shirt and new winter coat while being cradled in my arms. As I signed his adoption papers, I almost felt like crying. It had been many, many years since I have fallen in love with a dog from a shelter. The Chinese Crested mix just stole my heart from the first time he licked my face.
Not too long after bringing Pogo home, we found out his back-story. While he was with his previous owners, Pogo decided to visit their neighbors' back yard. The neighbor didn’t take too kindly to this, so she decided to get a bucket of hot water and throw it at the poor soul. After the scalding water hit his back, Pogo took off. I’m not sure how Pogo’s life was with his previous home, but I can tell it wasn’t a great one. When he was found, there was no microchip, no collar, and no one ever came looking for him. He was also underweight. I didn’t even see a lost dog sign with his picture on it.
Now, Pogo is such a happy little pooch. He has gained two pounds, (now weighing four pounds), and he is just spoiled rotten. Not only did I rescue him, he really rescued me.
For the past five years of my life, I have suffered on and off with anxiety. It’s something that is so hard to explain to someone that hasn’t experienced it, but it can be extremely difficult to live with. So difficult that I had issues when flying by myself. I hated how the medications made me feel, so I talked to my doctor about emotional support pets and if she could write a note to the airline so Pogo could accompany me while flying. Ever since I started bringing him with me on flights, I feel so much better now.
I honestly believe animals change our lives for the better. They can bring us so much joy and laughter. Sadly, heartbreak is also one of those things. But even when that day comes when it’s time to say goodbye, you know they have had a wonderful life with you and that you will see them again one day. I hope Pogo will be with me for many more years to come, but if something were to happen next year, I would still be happy that I gave him a second chance at life and provided him with a wonderful home.
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Alexis Schonberger is an Aiken resident and volunteer at the SPCA Albrecht Center. She adopted Pogo after Christmas two years ago. Alexis also has two other dogs, Lilly and Mojo who are also rescues.
Follow Pogo on Instagram at Instagram.com/PogoOnTheGoGo