We never underestimate the strength of connection between a dog and their human. The saying ‘man’s best friend’ was aptly coined, they’re clever, loyal, loving, funny and unconditional love comes as standard. We wonder why everyone doesn’t have a dog, but then many of us do have friends, family, partners and lovers in our lives.
You know what’s coming don’t you. Yes, many of the people we support have never experienced that human connection. Sometimes the very people who should have loved, cared and protected them didn’t. Each day on the street is about survival, whether that is meeting the cravings of an addiction, finding shelter or food their priorities rarely extend beyond the next 6 hours.
We see and support many people with dogs and the striking thing is not just that amazing connection but the impact that has on the human condition. Purpose, responsibility, companionship, meaning and of course love. It has an incredible impact on someone’s life and recovery.
Often heard said “if they can’t look after themselves they shouldn’t have a dog”, we don’t agree. Evidence tells us the vast majority of dogs on the street are well looked after by their human, physically and emotionally. They’re not left in the house all day while their owner goes to work, they are together 24/7. Our own experience tells us that dog owners will often sacrifice their own needs for their dog, sometimes ‘choosing’ to sleep on the streets together rather than put their BFF in kennels so they can get a safe place to stay.
We’re trying to change that and hopefully help people to understand the positive and hugely meaningful impact of having a dog along with the life experiences of the people we support which is often peppered with trauma and loss. Our report asks people to genuinely pause and think about the journey people on the street might have travelled and the positivity of having a four legged friend.
This is why we are jointly funding a post with The Dogs Trust to employ a project worker who will support voluntary and statutory services across Scotland to become dog and pet friendly. Our own services have taken on the challenge and we’re delighted to have furry friends in our services.
“CEC recognise the importance and deep bond people experiencing homelessness have with their pets. We’re proud of our track record in supporting people to be in accommodation with their pet and we welcome this report as a positive contribution to the sector and to people and their furry friends”.
David Smith. Partnership and Planning. City of Edinburgh Council
We’re also equipping our street teams in Edinburgh and Glasgow to issue ‘Street Packs for Dogs’. Specifically designed to be visible, warm, portable and calorific, we’re looking to raise enough to buy full packs by February. You can help by donating here.
Each pack has:
- High visibility lead and collar
- High visibility collar light
- Warm coat
- Small portable food packs
- Mobile water dispenser and folding food bowls
- Poo bags, biodegradable
- The obligatory toy they can rip apart
- A small rucksack to contain the pack
“No one should ever be placed in a position where they have to choose between a safe place to stay or their pet. What makes this choice even harder is the trauma and loss many of the people we support have experienced. Being asked to give up the only constant in their lives that gives them company, purpose, security and love simply adds more trauma and loss to an already awful journey. The great thing is it doesn’t have to be like that, being dog/pet friendly isn’t that hard. This document shares the experiences and opportunities to provide that approach.”
Lorraine McGrath, CEO Simon Community