Dogs may be man’s best friend, but around Mercy Home for Boys & Girls, our facility dog Pongo is everyone’s best friend. And as it takes a village to provide round-the-clock care for care for 134 kids in our Home, it takes a village to care for Pongo, to maximize his time and resources.
Pongo’s primary facilitator, Tom Gilardi, Vice President of Youth Programs, is a busy man. Pongo is often at his side, but when Pongo can’t tag along, Mercy Home coworkers step up as surrogate facilitators.
Mario Tamayo, Manager of Youth Programs Operations, is one to take Pongo’s leash, whether it’s on visits to spend time with kids or a walk in the neighborhood.
“One important aspect is making sure that I consistently use Pongo’s commands with him. It could be anything from picking up a credit card under a table surrounded by food to jumping onto a park bench,” Tamayo said. “One thing Tom is adamant about with others around Mercy Home is making sure we practice Pongo’s commands.”
That way, Pongo is prepared to pass his required certification each year. Last year, Pongo passed with flying colors.
“Pongo really does require a team,” said Tamayo. “A lot of responsibilities go in to caring for him.”
Gilardi maintains Pongo’s grooming, diet, and commands, while Tamayo makes sure he gets some exercise and sun, does his business, and practices commands. This all contributes to Pongo’s overall health and well-being, which reflects positively onto our kids.