In an earlier post I wrote about Steve, a homeless guy I see almost every day after dropping off the kids at school.
Another homeless person I’ve met, but only once, was a woman in her late thirties or early forties. It was a cold and rainy day, and I stopped at the traffic light she was at, beside an overpass, in between showers. When I gave her some money she thanked me and told me to stay dry.
It always takes me aback when a homeless person says things to me, in my cozy minivan, like, “Stay dry,” or “Stay safe,” of “Stay warm”. So I said that I’d be fine, but would she stay dry? She said she’d try. She was close to tears. I asked her if she could go to a shelter, but she explained that she couldn’t, because of her dog, and the shelters don’t allow dogs. But she needed her dog; it alerted her to seizures.
The light turned green. I never saw her again.
I’ve googled homeless shelters in Austin, for future reference. Apparently the ARCH has some accommodations for dogs, but the ARCH only helps men. There’s no mention on any of the sites for women’s shelters about accepting dogs.
This article points out that, although there is so far no scientific explanation why dogs can sense the onset of seizures, many people do have seizure alert dogs. These dogs have not been trained and are not certified in any way, and that’s why shelters don’t consider them service animals.
The next post in this series is about a man sobbing behind his sign.
Well that just sucks there’s no women’s shelter that allows dogs!
In summer I often see homeless people riding the train with their dogs, just to get them out of the heat for a little while. I sometimes wonder about people’s priorities, but if they have no other companionship, or need the dog for a special reason like seizure alerting or anxiety assistance, I can’t but feel sorry for both dog and human.
My initial thought when I first saw a homeless person with a dog was also that that’s a strange priority to have, but when you think of it: to most of the world they are invisible. People go out of their way to ignore them, or they are looked down on. They may hardly exchange more than three words a day with other humans, and even then it’s probably not more than “Thanks, God bless you”. Their dog loves them completely and unconditionally, and they can talk to them. For many people their dog is their only family or friend in the world.