Poncho, now known as Black Dog, picked his new 8-acre home in Ormond Beach, near Plantation Bay.
Some things can only be described as fate.
That’s the case with Poncho, a little black dog that was rescued from Puerto Rico after surviving Hurricane Maria, which ravaged the U.S. territory as a Category 5 in September 2017.
Megan Blizard, a Palm Harbor resident, was visiting family in Palm Coast for Thanksgiving and had only been Poncho’s foster mom for fewer than 48 hours when he accidentally got off his leash.
Blizard was devastated. She placed notices in the Classified sections of the Palm Coast Observer and Ormond Beach Observer and created a Facebook group called “Bring Poncho Home” with the hope of finding him.
After tracking Poncho for seven weeks, Blizard said “all got quiet.”
Finally, the silence broke with a text from Ormond Beach resident Greg Heck on March 8.
Heck was out of town with his family in late January when his house-sitter sent them a video of a little black dog playing in their 8-acre yard with the family’s chocolate Lab named Sundae.
“We could see that he had a little bit of troubledness in his eyes,” Heck said. “I thought he had been abandoned really. We live on the end of the street, and it’s all our yard until the end.”
Heck’s mother had seen Poncho’s missing dog notices in the Ormond Beach Observer and told her son that this little black dog was the lost pup Blizard was searching for.
Heck texted Blizard with the news and a photo of Poncho.
“At first glance, I thought there’s no way this is Poncho, he’s way too big,” Blizard said.
After seeing the distinct bright yellow collar still on, white under his chin, white and amber on his paws and his short little legs, she knew this was indeed her lost pup.
“When you foster a dog, you want to be their dog mom,” Blizard said. “But I love him so much that I know I’m not the right home for him.”
Blizard and Heck believe Poncho, who is now officially known as Black Dog, picked the home where he wanted to live — one with a large yard to run around, a friendly lab and a loving family.
“He stands sometimes with his heels together and prances along,” Heck said. “It’s really cute. So, we thought he was super charming right in the beginning.”
After “careful consideration,” Blizard said she asked Heck if he would officially adopt the rescue from Suncoast Animal League.
“Although it was my intention to adopt Poncho, I can’t take him back here to an apartment,” she said. “I have never experienced any more of a ‘if you love someone, let them go.’”
Heck eagerly agreed to adopt Black Dog and recently mailed the paperwork back to the rescue league near Tampa.
“We just love nature and animals,” Heck said about his family. “Whatever comes in our path we were just trying to be accepting of.”
So far, Black Dog has stayed in the yard and doesn’t want to go inside. He prefers to eat his food off the ground while Sundae eats out of a bowl. Both are outdoor dogs, though, and enjoy roaming around Heck’s property.
Heck and his children have been able to pet and play with Black Dog, but Heck said he doesn’t seem to know any commands.
After learning about Black Dog’s past, Heck said he felt a bond with him.
“We both have something in common: We both survived Category 5 hurricanes,” he said. “I was in Hurricane Andrew in Homestead.”
Having grown up in Miami, Heck tried speaking a little Spanish to Black Dog, in the hopes phrases like “come here,” “sit down” and “puppy” would register with him. While he hasn’t had much luck there so far, Heck and Black Dog had their first hug on Wednesday, March 14, which he filmed and shared in the “Bring Poncho Home” Facebook group, which now has close to 200 members.
“They just love that somebody who cares for him found him and that he is OK,” he said.