We have been breading dogs for as long as we have been building communities. We have bred them in as many ways as we have built our buildings. We use them as tools and protectors, we have used them as food, we have used them as allies, they live 1/7th the length of time we do, so their evolution is traceable…. (want proof? Go look up what almost any breed looked like 75 years ago, and how they look now) and most of all, or through it all, they are our best friends.
I’m willing to bet that every person reading this, if asked to honestly list the best friends they have had in life, a dog would be near or at the top of the list. (or cat, but that’s another story)
Street people have dogs and these dogs serve different purposes, some are companions, some are tools, some are protectors, When I see these friends walk by, I think of the bumper sticker, “who saved who”.
I have “befriended” a few of the older ladies, over 70, they push their belongings in a cart, clothing, blankets, whatever else the shelters allow them to bring in, and their doggy bed is at the top with their little lap dog, this dog almost always has two names, one they tell the public, and the real name that is only known by people they trust…. I have no idea why this is done… what I gather is, the breed is also kept secret because people steal in shelters and they are afraid if the real breed of the dog is known, it would be stolen. So, I usually hear it’s a Shiatzus, or Pekingese, or Poodle, but they tell everyone it’s a mutt.
One of these ladies is a Jamaican woman, she’s blind, I have picked her up and dropped her off at various points around the city. We talk a bit, She tells me her son lives in Lynwood and is doing very well, her dog is very sweet, slow licks to those that are allowed to pet her, blind, missing most of its teeth, arthritic to a point where walking is difficult, she has towels on the bed that her dog pees on. She totes on her dog hand feeding of chicken and other veggies, her little dog is everything good in her life. I have thought of how difficult it is to lose a pet even in normal conditions, I wonder if her dog wanders to the rainbow bridge how she will do.
The Tool category: This can be any dog, usually medium size and approachable, they have a sign, “I’m homeless, my dog needs to eat, or, my human needs to eat” please help” the sign works here in Seattle, we love our dogs here. Some of the dogs actually wag their tale if you give money, not sure if this is trained or if they make the connection…. dogs are smart creatures; I think they know stuff about us.
One of these dogs has a gentleman for his friend, they often sleep in Yesler Park, he uses a sleeping bag and blanket, one morning I was walking by and the dog was in the bag with his friend, head out of the bag, both were snoring, a paper plate and an empty dog food can were next to them.
Protectors: to me, these are the scary ones and I have seen some bad combos on the streets. A short white guy with lots of tattoos, bald head, pointed beard wears chains. He has a beast of a dog, huge Pitbull mixed with what I’m guessing is a mastiff. Often I have seen this dog muzzled as the man is pulled behind, the dog is ok unless another dog gets too close, then a lunge happens and so far no damage has been done but I figure it’s a matter of time before some poor dog is killed, and I have to wonder where these two spend their nights, no shelter would take this dog in. From what I can tell, this guy would be safe anywhere with this dog. This dog has some scars from bites, I believe it either protects him, or is used to raise money by fighting.