Your Name: Christine Hilberg
Dog's Name: Puka
Breed: American Bulldog/Boxer mix
Age/Years of friendship: born March 1, 2011
Where did you get your dog from: Gift from our friend.
Location: Los Angeles, California
Social Media Link: www.instagram.com/chilberg & www.pukaismyhomie.com
Growing up my family always had pets. When I moved to Los Angeles it was the first time I didn’t have some type of animal at the house to look after. That all changed in 2011. My best friend at the time was a big advocate for animal rescue. She worked with rescue dogs most of her life. Whenever we would hang out it was always with her oldest dog named Dolly. She was always telling me that my boyfriend and I should invite a pet into our lives, but I didn’t think it was the right time.
One day my friend sent me a picture of a tiny puppy with a cleft lip she found at a bus stop. The puppy was adorable and was even wearing a bow tie as a collar. After taking the pup to the vet to make sure her cleft lip wasn’t a major medical issue, my friend asked me to come over to meet the new dog. Since she already had a couple rescue animals of her own, I offered to foster the puppy till she found a home. By the time the weekend was over, my boyfriend and I knew we were never letting that puppy go!
We named her Puka because she reminded us of a puka shell with her sandy, brindle markings and cleft lip. Pretty soon she was the center of our whole world. We started working with a dog trainer for basic obedience and the more I worked with Puka the more she seemed to enjoy it, and surprisingly I began to feel rewarded too. Our bond quickly grew. Her personality began to really shine through and she became less of a pet and more of a member of our household. As we moved up to the next level of training I could see she was a very special dog. I began to post about her on my Instagram page because I was so excited about her growth and achievements. Because of these experiences I was exposed to the world of animal rescue. Knowing that Puka came into my life by chance it became clear to me that gaining her friendship was like winning the lottery. I knew I wanted to contribute to the community so that other dogs like Puka would be able to find homes, not only for the betterment of their lives, but because of how much joy rescuing a dog can bring to the life of the rescuer.
Since that day in 2011 Puka has been the reason for so many of our actions and adventures. My involvement with NKLA and other rescue organizations, the amazing community of animal advocates I have met and become friends with through Instagram and adoption events, and the neighbors we have become friends with in our area just by going on a walk and striking up conversations with them about their pets, is all due to Puka being in my life. Puka has helped me to push out of my comfort zone, encouraged me to travel more, and she was a constant companion during an incredibly tough time my family went through during my mom’s battle with cancer.
Having Puka has taught me so much about myself and in some ways gives me another level of purpose in life outside of the regular day-to- day things. She has taught me about communication, patience, having fun, and the excitement of just being silly. In all senses of the word Puka represents happiness to me.
If I were to tell anyone about Puka, I would say that once you rescue an animal your life will be filled with something so much better.
This is Puka and my story. What’s yours?
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