January 4, 2017

Big Things Come in Small Packages: Poncho’s Search for a Home

Happy Tails: Poncho

“I'm grateful for Frank every day, and I want the ASPCA to know what a positive impact you have had on his life.” –Jennifer D. of Brooklyn, NY

It was in April 2015 that we first met Poncho, a then three-year-old Chihuahua with bright eyes and a big personality. At the time, Poncho was missing patches of fur and was suffering from a chronic skin condition and allergies that required a very specific diet and bathing regiment. His guardians had found Poncho as a stray, but were unable to keep him due to their son’s allergies. Though Poncho looked a little rough on the outside, on the inside he was an inquisitive, independent and playful pup. After he was brought into the ASPCA, the veterinary team at the ASPCA Animal Hospital (AAH) discovered that while mostly healthy, Poncho did suffer from mild degenerative valve disease, a heart condition that would need to be rechecked in about a year, but luckily presented no immediate danger to the small dog.

Once Poncho was ready for adoption, everyone knew it would only be a matter of time before someone spotted this special dog. Sadly, Poncho was adopted only to be returned a day later in June 2015. The adopter again cited allergies as the cause, and the sweet special needs dog was back at square one. 

Poncho on his bed

Either way, the team at the ASPCA Adoption Center never gave up hope that Poncho would find the right adopter and the perfect permanent home. A little over two weeks later, Poncho met Jennifer D.

After plenty of research and preparation, Jennifer had decided that she was ready for her first dog. Although she knew she was ready, she wasn’t quite sure what kind of dog she was looking for as she toured the Adoption Center. “I didn't know who I was looking for until I found him,” Jennifer says. When she arrived at his enclosure, she spotted a sign on the door that said, “Poncho is in here, look under the blankets!”, and eventually spotted the tiny tan Chihuahua after he emerged from the pile on his bed. In that moment, Poncho trotted over to say hello to Jennifer and the Adoption Center team members like he owned the place. Jennifer tells us that she was won over by his personality, and by the fact that she realized that he must have been overlooked in the past due to his medical conditions. Despite Poncho’s special needs, she knew that she’d found her perfect match. It was truly meant to be.

Poncho went home to Brooklyn, and was given a new name—Frank. Frank’s adjustment to his new home was slightly difficult at first, and required some patience. However, Jennifer tells us that they consistently made progress together. “He is the sweetest. Even from the beginning when he didn't feel well and was adjusting to another new place, he tried new things,” she says. Jennifer discovered early on that Frank’s allergies weren’t just related to his diet. She worked hard with his veterinarian in the following weeks to make Frank more comfortable and to alleviate his constant scratching. 

Frank (formerly Poncho) at his new home

Jennifer also noticed that Frank had some behavioral issues around food in the beginning. “He was frantic and would bark at people whenever food was cooking and it was time to eat. We wondered if he had only been fed human food, or if he had not had enough to eat in his previous home,” Jennifer says. “However, with consistency and some training (and trust), he soon came to learn that he didn't need to worry about not eating.

Jennifer’s time and dedication to Frank were just what he needed! Now fully adjusted, Frank loves to go on long walks in Brooklyn. He also loves to interact with new dog friends, big or small, and will march right up to set when they are filming movies or television shows in their neighborhood, just to introduce himself. Jennifer believes that Frank thinks of himself as the Mayor of their neighborhood, even telling us that she feels like the community has gained a vested interest in Frank’s progress. “People still stop me to say ‘I remember when he had no fur,’ or to tell me how well he interacts with their dogs—whereas he used to bark at them a year ago.”

With all of Frank’s progress, Jennifer was reminded again of his beginnings when she received an ASPCA mailing this past October, containing her holiday wrapping paper. She was surprised and delighted to find that the Chihuahua featured on the festive paper was Frank! 

This year’s ASPCA wrapping paper, featuring Frank
This year’s ASPCA wrapping paper, featuring Frank

The small dog has come a long way from when he first came to the ASPCA. Although Frank struggled with finding the right adopter at first, he finally found the one that would take the time to provide the care and love that he needed all along.