Sunday, May 24, 2009
Homeless man and his dog
I have seen this photo of this homeless man and his dog floating around the internet. This photo was taken by Kristen Bole and has touched the hearts of so many. She has captured in an image what touched me in a very deep way a few years ago. It prompted me to write my first essay, three summers ago, about a homeless man and his black dog as I was sitting at a Starbucks on Nicollet Avenue in downtown Minneapolis - an essay I have been asked to consider trying to get published. Maybe some day i'll be brave enough to try submitting it for publication.
I'm in San Francisco this weekend for work. Last night after getting a quick run in I decided to walk a couple blocks to Westfield Center on Market Street to grab some dinner - the food court there, I discovered earlier in the day, was filled with lots of ethnic and healthy, organic meal options. A few yards away from the corner of Market Street and 4th leaning against the wall for the entrance to the BART train station, was a young man who looked like the man in this photo. He was wearing an army green jacket, probably in his late twenties, dirty brown hair down to his shoulders, and facial hair. Next to him, sitting on top of a ragged black suitcase sat his dog, a tan and white pitbull wearing an army green dog sweater. The man's head was down. I could feel his exhaustion. He was holding a cardboard sign that read "Hungry and broke. Please help." His dog sat patiently and loyally by his side. No leash. The only leash connecting the two was one of companionship and friendship.
I kept walking past them yet the image of the young man and his pit bull would not leave my heart. After getting Vietnamese takeout at Westfield center I took the same route back to the hotel in hopes I would see them again. It was a chilly evening in San Francisco with temperatures in the low 50s. Market street was hustling with people - locals and tourists. Music filled the air. People were celebrating and exploring yet all I could do was think and fixate about this homeless man and his loyal pitbull. I approached him and handed him some change .. a $5 bill (I now wish I had given him more). As I gave him the $5 bill he said "God bless you". I acknowledged him with a nod and as I did, his dog came up to me as if to say "hi and thank you." "Beautiful dog", I said, as I petted the gentle pit bull who gave me a kiss on my hand. The young man nodded back in acknowledgement. No doubt, he was proud of his companion.
I received a gift last night from this homeless man and his dog. Oftentimes, the greatest gifts we receive are from strangers.
There is a non-profit organization, Feeding Pets of the Homeless based out of Carson City, Nevada. Their mission is "Through Feeding Pets of the Homeless, we will do our part to help reduce hunger in pets that belong to the homeless and the less fortunate and provide medical care for those pets in communities across the country. We believe in the healing power of companion pets and of the human/animal bond which is very important to life."
I couldn't agree more. I also know, there is more for me to do.