8 year old Doris
A couple of weeks ago, a Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority (LAHSA) case worker reached out to counselor Amanda about Doris, an 8 year old Yorkie mix, who we helped before. Actually, this was the third time that Doris’ owner needed our services to support her path of recovery. Doris would need to go into boarding while her owner went into detox and rehab.
When you look at the photo of Doris, what do you see? Are you upset by the image? Do you want to rescue her, and get her out of that box? Or do you see a well cared for dog, who is snuggled in a blanket and placed in a box for safe keeping during her car ride? When I posted this photo on the DDR social media platforms, we received a variety of comments ranging from the assumption that she needed a new home, to offers of fostering. We also received very personal sharing of recovery and how pets had positively impacted, and in some cases, saved the person’s life.
Reading the comments posted on Facebook and Instagram, I can’t deny that I felt defensive, even a little judgmental reading the comments from followers, who thought that Doris needed to be re-homed, was in a bad situation due to being transported in a box, and even speculated as to what type of life she has had with her person. I wondered how someone could question whether she has a “good home”? To me it was obvious: she is well loved and adored. The photo told me everything I needed to know. FYI I have never met Doris or her person. I have never spoken to her over the phone. I know Doris and her person just about as well as anyone on social media knows them. But I could imagine how she felt. I’m grateful that I’ve had an opportunity to learn how incredibly difficult a path to recovery is for anyone, and how it is complicated more by being homeless, and/or without a stable support network.
Like most of our clients who need to go into treatment, Doris’ owner would not have accepted the offer of treatment if she could not be assured that her dog would be in a safe place and returned to her as soon as it was possible. Too often, not providing that assurance leads to pet owners who are experiencing homelessness and struggling with addiction, to stay living an unhealthy lifestyle on the streets. Not to over generalize here, but I think it’s fair to write, based on many stories that I’ve listened to for more than 20 years, that for the pet owner who is homeless or addicted to drugs and /or alcohol, the dog or cat is their reason to get up everyday, the reason to live, and to try to get clean. It is their pet who offers them unconditional love. Caring for their pet might be their […]