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Success Stories - Pongo, our amazing Fetcher Dog by Ann Atkins

Pongo's Journey by Ann Atkins

Pongo was just 10 months old when he was adopted by his best friend Iona Atkins and her mum Ann. Pongo was born on the streets of Bosnia. As a stray, he was at serious risk of cruelty from locals, starvation, disease and faced the very real possibility of being captured and sent to a kill shelter. He was just a puppy. He didn’t ask to be brought into this world, let alone to face the inhumane and cruel realities that thousands of Bosnia’s stray dogs face every day. It’s horrifying to think that had he not been brought to the UK by Fetcher Dog his little life might have been brutally ended just as quickly as it began – a story that is all too familiar in that part of the world.

Thankfully, however, he was rescued, by one of the teams of locals who work tirelessly on behalf of Fetcher Dog to save as many stray and abandoned dogs as they can and take them to safe and secure facilities, before being treated and brought back to the UK for adoption.

And so Pongo’s promise of a new life began. 

Pongo’s adoption:

Back in the UK, 17 year old Iona had asked her Mum, Ann, for a dog. Iona has special needs and doesn’t have the same level of communication with peers that many other girls of her age do, so she wanted a companion - the sort of companionship that a dog could provide. However, having grown up scared of dogs – for no reason other than they were unfamiliar to her, she needed to overcome her fear, so choosing the right dog was important. What was also important though, was to make sure she was choosing a dog that really needed a forever home, that would really appreciate the love and care that Iona and her family could provide. Having been introduced to Fetcher Dog during summer 2019, the family recognised the sad plight of these poor dogs in Bosnia and Iona set about keeping a look out on Fetcher Dog’s website for the right dog:

“When I saw Pongo on the website I showed him to mum and I said “This is our dog, we need Pongo”.

Having initially been adopted by another family, before being sent back to Fetcher Dog for being unsuitable, Pongo was adopted by Iona, Ann and their family.


Picking up Pongo

Iona recalls: “When we went to pick Pongo up I was apprehensive as I was still a bit nervous around dogs, but Steph from Fetcher Dog put me instantly at ease. And so the friendship began.

Ann recalls: “He settled in brilliantly. It was like he knew it was his forever home.” “He now follows me around like I’m his mum and loves Iona like his best friend. Pongo’s life with his best friend Iona:

Iona: “Pongo motivates me to go out. She loves dogs and now has lots of [dog] friends and it’s nice to know that I’ll get to meet other dogs and their owners. Normally if a big dog comes anywhere near me I run for the hills, but now I’ll happily stand there and talk to the owner”

“Pongo has made Iona far more confident in going out, being near other dogs and talking to and meeting new people.” Were they worried about Pongo, being a stray puppy from another country?

Iona: “You can never predict what’s going to happen with any animal, person or thing. “You can get behavioural issues with children – it’s like the terrible twos.

Pongo has what we call zoomies. He’ll roll on the floor, run around the downstairs and he’ll go mad for a few minutes.

Ann: “You can’t expect any dog, but particularly a rescue, who’s maybe been through trauma at an early age to be perfect, which is one thing that Fetcher Dog have said: if you want a perfect dog, go to Toys R Us and buy a toy'.

“Dogs who’ve been through trauma and separation may come with some issues, but with patience and love, the advantages well outweigh the disadvantages.”

“Like anything in life, you get out what you put in. It’s the same for a dog. You can’t expect a dog just to be fantastic and perfect…. As human beings we’re not perfect. “ “You can get behavioural issues with any dog you get from a respectable breeder. You have to work with a dog irrespective of whether they come from a rescue centre, or a breeder. But if you put in your love and attention and patience, you’ll get back more than you put in.”


Why Fetcher Dog:

'The dog care in Bosnia is dire. Any dog that is abandoned, no matter where they are, it’s a shame. However, if a dog is abandoned in the UK they’re often “luckier” than others because providing they’re rescued they will be looked after properly. 'Whereas dogs that are abandoned in countries such as Bosnia, are very likely to end up in high kill shelters.

'Treatment they receive out there is dire. It’s not as if they’re looked after at all, they’re actually preparing them for death. So from that respect that’s why it worked out better for us. And that’s why there should be a bigger push to adopt dogs – from wherever they are in the world rather than going for pedigrees from a breeder'.

'There should be a big push to adopt dogs rather than going for designer brands. Dogs like cockapoos are currently fetching around £3,000 but I think you get even more love with a rescue dog'.


Giving a dog a chance.

For anyone to have the opportunity to have a dog that’s had a bad start in life, they’re going to get back so much, they really are. And it’s what it gives the family as well, especially someone like Iona. Pongo is more than just a dog. He is a vital part of all our lives but especially Iona’s and her Mum’s. This was so evident when Iona, who suffers from seizures, was having a seizure and he ran upstairs and barked at her Mum to alert her to this. He will when Iona has a seizure, stay right by her side.

Ann said, “ It’s like he knows! He will stay by her side and when she comes round he continues to stay with her.

It’s like he comforts her.

Pongo is also a great comfort to Ann too who was diagnosed with advanced colorectal cancer. He not only is a great comfort to her too but he gives her the motivation to look after him and go out which helps recovery.

Ann said, “What a massive difference a little stray puppy from Bosnia has made in our lives. He needed a lifeline but gave us a lifeline too.”

All words and images courtesy of Ann Atkins

Thank You Ann

1 comment

  • What a lovey story and happy ending. Very true about the breeders and what they can command. We should all be thinking about relieving the suffering of.. animals in inhospitable countries/conditions. God bless Fetcher Dog. Keep up the splendid work.


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