Baxter and Punkie

When my wife and I first started getting dogs in 1999, our first was a toy poodle, Gidget, who was with us for 16 years. We got Sparky, another toy poodle, after her. We then rescued Bobo, a 2-year-old toy poodle, from a couple going through a divorce (neither party wanted the dog). Bobo left us in October of 2012 at age 13, and it was a tough loss. In April of 2014, we received a call from some friends who run the 4-H rescue here in Jacksonville, Florida, and they had just assisted in the shutdown of one of the largest puppy mills in Florida’s history. They had a toy poodle that needed adopting. My wife and I& decided to go see him, and it was YES at first sight. When we got the dog, who we named Baxter, we did not know his age, but we think he was around six. He was very timid, and very thin. The one thing that struck us was the amazingly similar qualities and personality between Baxter and Bobo; we knew it was meant to be.

Sparky passed away on June 9, 2017, two days before I was scheduled to fly to San Diego for work. My wife and I were really upset and it was hard for me to leave, but something told me I needed to go on this trip. Once there, I was in my room thinking about our little Sparky and decided to look on a search engine for “San Diego Dog Rescue” to see what would come up. The first link that popped up was the “San Diego Poodle Rescue” web site. Hmm. When I opened that link I could not believe my eyes – the first picture was a small toy poodle, then named Pumpkin Spice, who looked exactly like Sparky! She was two years old and, due to a fall, her owner was no longer able to care for her. I could not resist, so I called and spoke to Sharon, the owner of the San Diego Poodle Rescue, who informed me that Pumpkin Spice came with some issues; she is required to take heart medication twice a day and she has a bit of a “wonky” leg. That was not a deterrent for me. I called my wife to discuss this opportunity, and I set up a time to go see Pumpkin Spice. It was a long drive after work, but a drive that would prove that I was meant to go on this trip. Sharon brought out Pumpkin Spice and she came right to me. I said, “She is mine.” What struck me (again) were the strong similarities between her and Sparky: same color, and same temperament.  

The day of my departure, I met Sharon’s husband at San Diego International to convert Pumpkin Spice from a West Coast girl to a Florida girl. I was able to fly Pumpkin Spice home in a carrier small enough to allow me to take her on the plane with me. I knew she was going to be a great little girl, and on the way home she went from Pumpkin Spice to Punkie; it just fit. The day we flew home was my birthday. When we got home, my wife was going over Punkie’s records and discovered her birthday was that day as well: Punkie and I share the same birthday! I got the greatest gift of all that year: a second chance for a dog nobody would even look at. Once Punkie and Baxter got used to each other they quickly became best friends and we started to see a playful side of Baxter we did not know existed. Punkie has now become addicted to my wife, and I love seeing that. We now each have our own little rescue dog to travel around with us in our Outback. 

— Ricky and Tammy Dumm, Jacksonville, Florida