Kelly's Dog Blog — Dogs of Homeless People

Are they as content as our dogs?

November 14, 2018
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While out walking my dog Griffin earlier this week I saw a homeless guy with a loaded-down shopping cart and a large Pitbull-Mastiff-looking dog in tow. Having five dogs that live in the lap of luxury most days, it is hard for me to fathom what the life of a dog of a homeless person must be like. The dog didn’t look unhappy or underfed; he just looked like a dog that was just as beloved as mine.

Just the same, I become skeptical and a bit indignant when I see homeless people with dogs; I feel that if they can’t care for themselves, how are they going to care for a dog? What if the dog needs medical attention? What happens if the dog bites someone or attacks another dog?

Dogs, Homeless, Dogs as Pets

There are countless homeless pets in shelters all over the country, each and every one with a different story about how they got there. The ones I feel sorriest for are the ones who, at one time, had lives similar to what my dogs have now, but circumstances such as a new baby in the house, financial hardship, behavioral problems, etc., resulted in the pet’s life being turned upside down. Many times they are unable to make it back to lives similar to — let alone better than — the lives they once knew.

Our dog Griffin took a very unwanted, heartbreaking and fortunately brief hiatus from a wonderful life when his previous owner couldn’t afford to care for him and his sister anymore. Apparently the gentleman was in tears when he dropped Griffin and his sister off at the shelter. To compound Griffin’s grief and confusion, someone adopted the sister right away. This really sent Griffin into a funk; he hovered toward the back of his cage and no prospective adopters could even see him.

Fortunately a foster agency stepped in, and, although we already had four dogs, the opportunity was wide open for us to adopt Griffin. Plucked from a great life, with one hiccup before eventually finding himself in another great life (with us!) Griffin experienced what many shelter dogs can only hope for. 

But getting back to homeless people and their dogs (or pets of any kind); who is more fortunate: the homeless person’s dog who has companionship and provides the same for its human, or the dog in the shelter, who, aside from a, occasional, temporary roommate, has no companionship at all, yet perhaps the possibility and hopes for a forever home in his or her future?

It is hard to imagine what goes through the mind of a homeless person’s pet. Some people surmise that those pets are truly happy and unwittingly want for nothing. That could be true, but if discomfort due to illness comes into play, and veterinarian assistance isn’t sought, that could change up the dynamic. 

And then there is the concept that rattles me most: what if that dog ran away from a warm and comfortable home —most dogs love to explore, after all — only to find itself on the street with a welcoming human?

I take every precaution to make sure that never happens to any of my dogs; I wish everyone did. Meanwhile, I guess all we can really hope for is eventual comfort and happiness for every pet, no matter what their present situation.