A Maui woman has won a $10,000 grant for the Maui Humane Society by sharing her story about how her dog helped her family get through a harrowing ordeal after the birth of their son. The grant was made possible as part of the Petco Foundation’s annual Holiday Wishes campaign. This year, Petco announced 51 Holiday Wishes grant recipients from across the country for a total of $755,000 in awards to support the year-round lifesaving efforts of animal welfare organizations.
In her submission, Josephine Tempongko said the night she went into labor, her 4-year-old dog Dottie, whom she adopted from MHS, curled up in her lap next to her bump and wouldn’t leave her side. “Dottie is a shy girl and… this was the first time in all the years since I adopted her that she’d behaved this way,” she said. “My husband was convinced that Dottie sensed something was coming.”
Complications arose immediately after Tempongko’s son, Wally, was born. “The delivery was extremely difficult for both of us,” Tempongko said. “Not even 24-hours-old, my son was diagnosed with a life-threatening case of bacterial meningitis.”
The newborn had to be airlifted to O‘ahu to receive medical treatment, while Tempongko remained hospitalized. “My husband flew with our baby, but I had to stay behind until I was well enough to travel,” she said. “My kidneys and liver were in distress, I needed two blood transfusions, and my blood pressure was out of control. I was in tremendous pain from a torn pelvic ligament that made it impossible for me to stand and walk. I was sicker than I’d ever been, and my seriously ill baby was in a hospital on another island, far away from me where I could not reach him. My heart was broken into a million pieces.”
The new mom said that the turning point during the stressful time was when her neighbor asked if she could bring Dottie to visit in the hospital. “I don’t know if I fully realized just how important Dottie was to me until the moment I saw her running toward my wheelchair, her whole body shaking with excitement,” Tempongko said. “I cannot describe the joy and relief I felt. I sobbed while she licked my tears away. She healed me in a way no hospital ever could.” Tempongko said being able to hold her pet gave her strength and comfort and her condition started to improve.
Tempongko was able to join her family in O‘ahu where Wally stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit for one month. Both the baby and Tempongko are healthy today. They presented MHS the $10,000 check on December 5. In addition to the grant for MHS, Tempongko won a shopping spree from Petco.
Photo courtesy of Petco Foundation