This is Day 3 of our 15-part Professional Pet Sitter Series.
It certainly goes without saying that most pet professionals are kind, caring, and thoughtful people.
The story that follows is from Betheny Green of Paws Pet Care at Home in Louisville, KY, and begins with a seemingly normal lunch with her teenage son.
What transpired from that afternoon is so wildly inspiring that an entire community has been profoundly impacted by the ongoing acts of kindness.
I’ve recently heard a quote that is relevant here and has stuck with me:
“It’s not what you look at, it’s what you see.”
And I’m sure you’ll agree that what Betheny Green saw on that Summer afternoon is something we can all aspire to ‘see.’
The Face of Homelessness and Their Pets
On a beautiful, warm Indian Summer day when I took my (then) 17 year old son Jacob to lunch at a restaurant off Bardstown Road in the Highlands of Louisville, KY.
We chose to eat outside to enjoy the sunshine.
He was getting ready to leave the nest for college. It was our last day together until he left.
We had just sat down with our food when a shirtless, raggedy young homeless man with his companion-dog (wearing a home-made rope collar that was actually trailing behind him) sat down on a park bench not too far from us.
The dog sat at the young man’s feet, tail thumping happily between his legs, looking lovingly at his Master.
I watched as the young man leaned down and petted his dog and whispered words of endearment to it. The man had dreadlocks. They were both dirty. They were both skinny.
I immediately started to stereotype…to judge. I avoided eye contact.
They BOTH looked very hungry, but neither was begging or asking for food. I vaguely remember feeling sorry for the poor little dog. The young man was actually whistling if I remember correctly.
Then, something amazing happened that would change my life.
Without even a word, Jacob got up and took his lunch over to the young man and offered it to him.
The man accepted the food and ever so humbly thanked Jacob. Fist bumps ensued.
To my complete surprise, before the homeless guy took ONE bite of the food he was given, he tore half off and gave it to his dog.
He fed his dog first.
Exactly half of the food Jacob gave him went to nourish the only friend and companion that guy probably had.
That was the first time I had ever saw… or paid attention to… the face of homelessness.
My eyes were opened and so was my heart.
I don’t know who that man was, or what his circumstances were. All I knew is that he was someone’s son, brother or father.
He was certainly loved and adored by his dog, which was probably the only true source of unconditional love and friendship that he had at that time… or maybe ever.
I started looking for homeless people with pets. And I found them. I found MORE than what I wanted to find.
There are hundreds of homeless right here in our beautiful city and about 8-10% of them have pets that provide companionship and unconditional love to them. I started taking pet food and supplies to them and pretty soon, my friends did too.
That image of that young man will be forever burned into my mind, and the selflessness of my son and the love of a homeless stranger for his faithful companion is part of the inspiration behind a non-profit that I started months later called “My Dog Eats First”.
At My Dog Eats First, we believe in the healing power of pets and in the love and companionship that these pets bring to the underserved (“homeless and indigent” sounds so….harsh).
We envision a world made better by the impacts we can have when we all do a little something good for others, no matter what their station in life may be.
Our mission is to provide pet food, supplies, and veterinary care for the pets of the indigent and homeless with respect and love. And that’s what we’ve been doing for a year now.
Over To You
Read More: Click 15 Professional Pet Sitters and Their Stories for all the featured pet professionals in our series.
How can you make a similar impact in your community? It doesn’t have to be starting a non-profit, it just has to be helpful.
How can you look beyond your day-to-day activity and make a profound impact on one person’s life?
I had the good fortune to interview Betheny Green for one of our training sessions. Press play below to watch the in-depth conversation, and please add your thoughts below.