People ask us all the time: Do you still help homeless people with pets?

image1Our answer is, Yes. Of course we do. But there’s more to that answer than we usually share, and those unsaid words are actually the most important. The real answer is, No. We help people with pets.

More and more, we are hoping to move away from the label of homeless, because for many who live outside, they do have a home. Their home is the street. Here is a story of one such man, his one dog, and their home on the street. This is a story about how a few of us worked together to help them.

This duo has been together for thirteen years, and many of those years have been spent camping at a park or under a bridge. They go everywhere together, do everything together, and this gentle man brushes his dog every single day. He calls her, “his heart.” Having seen them for months in the area, sometimes panhandling for money, sometimes simply walking by, we got to know them. We asked for their names, their stories. We shook his hand and stroked her Shepherd ears.

And what happened over the course of our encounters with them is that we began to care for him and his dog, as we have cared for many families before who have also lived on the street. We decided it would be great to give them a night in a comfy motel room. We were over the moon at the idea of helping this pair have a chance to recharge. Even if it was only for one night, and even if it didn’t “solve the problem,” we felt this small gesture would mean a great deal. And we were right. A night of peaceful, dry sleep. Of hot water. Of feeling safe. Can we put a price on that? Don’t we all deserve that? Isn’t it possible to feel renewed by everyday niceties?

Solving problems cannot be accomplished without first taking action. For this one man and his dog, a connection, which did not exist before now, came into his life. Similarly to when we rescue or adopt one pet from an animal shelter, it does not solve the entire shelter system or all the pet overpopulation problems. And yet it is worthwhile. It means something to touch that life. So we take small actions, and over time we look back at a pile, a heap of steps traveled, and we see they have grown large. They then become a foundation.

We have built our foundation. A lot can be accomplished when just a few creative, compassionate people take action, and no matter how little the first step might be, it has a ripple effect. For this man and his dog, it brought more than a night of security and comfort, it brought recognition, respect, and hope. We will continue to work at supporting them however we can. Please continue to help us do so. The more you get our backs, the more we can get their’s, and possibly soon we will be able to live in a time where the shift from “homeless” to simply “people” becomes a reality. Until then, let’s keep taking one action at a time, and trust that they all count more than we might ever know.