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April 2018

"This morning I write with a heavy heart, on Saturday evening my daughters dog was rushed to the emergency vets. He was bleeding internally, was diagnosed with cancer, and made his journey across the Rainbow Bridge. 

You might think it a little odd that I want to share his story with you, however Pumba (AKA Pumba Loompa), taught us so many things.

Lessons that I think are helpful to us all.  

We all met Pumby, a year and a half ago during a visit with our daughter to Blacktown Pound to pick her next foster dog. Anyone else would have walked by. He was very overweight; his eyes were sad and his body covered in lumps and bumps. But Erin looked past that and saw something special in him. She took him out of his run to meet our dog and when he gazed up at her, it was love at first sight. We all knew this dog wasn’t going anywhere, except home with us.

And Pumba gave us our first lesson,   

1. Never judge a book (or a living creature) by it’s cover, you need to look deeper past the surface at what is underneath and in the heart.  

Once he came home the months ahead were ones of getting to know him, dieting, and improving his fitness. Pumba and Erin went on adventures, to the beach, bushwalks and even to the hardware store. He often would get anxious when he was taken new places. But he didn’t let that stop him, he took it in his stride, willing to try new things. And so, another lesson was learned. 

2. Sometimes you have to be brave, trust yourself and those around you. Because who knows what wonderful things await you around the corner.  

Pumba had an ability to sit quietly and calmly when you were patting him. Even our daughter on the austism spectrum who dislikes large dogs found him comforting. Erin decided to apply for him to be trained as a therapy dog with Paws Pet Therapy. Pumba passed his training and assessment with flying colours, much to the surprise of some people. Why? Because he was a bull breed and he was also nine years old. Together Erin and Pumba decided they would work to change people’s opinions of these dogs and their potential.  

3. You are never too old to learn new things and change the world.  

Pumba went to universities, local libraries and each week he visited his friends at a mental health facility. He wore his Paws vest with pride, a smile in his eye and a wag of his tail. His role was to be there for anyone who needed him. Pumba would sit quietly as hands reached out to connect with him and receive comfort. He was even comforting his mum right to the end. His career as a therapy dog may have been cut short, but he was an inspiration to everyone he met.   

4. Sometimes we need to be there, nothing we can do or say but just be with people and love them.  No matter where he went he always had a smile on his dial, and everywhere he went he charmed people. How could you not smile when he was so happy. Even the girls at the local Red Rooster Drive through loved him, he would drop by on Thursday afternoon, after therapy, for his hot chips.   

5. Always smile, you never know how it might change someone‘s day. 

Pumba may be gone but he is definitely not forgotten, and his spirit will live on. My daughter plans to continue her crusade for people to better understand bull breeds. She also wants to remind people not to put all the blame on them when attacks occur. All dogs, small and large, have the potential to bite. Standing behind each dog is an owner, it is our responsibility to respect and raise our canine friends well.    

Pumba’s partner in crime, Mysti, is mourning her mate, in time she will appear on his insta page. While she is not a Therapy dog, she wants to continue his work and breaking down the barriers for bull breeds.  

So today people, hug your dog and think about the simple lessons learned from a warthog that was dog, that others had written off. 

Apply them to your life and let’s make sure Pumba’s legacy lives on.  

We want to acknowledge the wonderful work of the vets and nurses at the Camden Valley Animal Hospital and in particular our fantastic vet, Ash. 

If Pumba’s story has touched your life please don’t hesitate to make a donation to Paws Pet Therapy so they can continue the amazing work they do. "

Posted by Sandie O'Neill on April 24, 2018

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