At a young age, Munkelwitz knew that she had a gift: an ability to connect with and understand any dog she came in contact with. From age 3, she knew she wanted to be a veterinarian. That dream was later shattered when she interned at an animal hospital and discovered “it was all about money and politics.”
In search of a job that was geared toward truly helping animals, she noticed a lot of people coming to her for advice in regards to caring for their newly acquired dogs. She soon discovered that this skill came easy to her and turned it into a business, All Things Pups, that uses 100 percent positive reinforcement training on all dogs.
Last year, her celebrity dog training business led her to Kuma, a sweet, rescue Akita puppy. “Kuma had the sweetest little soul and was the most appreciative dog I’ve ever known,” Munkelwitz said. Unfortunately, Kuma had many rare juvenile medical issues, such as immune-mediated polyarthritis and steroid-responsive meningitis.
On one of the first days under Munkelwitz’s care, Kuma began having seizures and spiking fevers. With the hope that it was nothing too serious, she rushed him to the hospital, where she was told Kuma had less than a 10 percent chance of making it through the night.
The original owners wanted to put him down because they knew how costly his medications and procedures would be, but Munkelwitz wasn’t going to let that happen. From that night on, she did everything she could for Kuma to have the best life possible.
The next eight months of Kuma’s life was a “huge rollercoaster” as Munkelwitz described. “Some days I was up until four in the morning making sure his fever went down, not to mention the trips to the doctor about three or four times a week.”
Even through all the expenses that came with Kuma’s condition, Munkelwitz loved him unconditionally. Every good day he had was valued and spent at fun places like a dog beach, Lake Poway, coffee shops, or just walks around the block. These are the memories that Munkelwitz will treasure forever.
Abby Spencer, a Pacific Beach resident and Munkelwitz’s high school intern, said: “[Kuma] was the most grateful dog I have ever met, always sweet, calm, content, and willing to please. He showed me what it means to be a true fighter, and how it’s possible to remain positive even in the hardest of times.”
Kuma touched many lives in the short 11 months he got, but he made the most of it by teaching people to go through life with a wagging tail, even if times get tough.