Another remembrance of skid row’s Sheba
“Everyone on skid row — kids, cops, prostitutes, pimps — loved her,” Jeff Dietrich writes about Sheba, in another remembrance of the Los Angeles street dog we told you about after her death a couple of months ago.
Dietrich, a member of the Los Angeles Catholic Worker, focuses his op-ed piece — it appeared in the Los Angeles Times yesterday – on the relationship between Sheba and Georgina (pictured together above).
Sheba’s best friends were the homeless street addicts who live outside the Catholic Worker soup kitchen. And, at least in Georgina’s case, maybe, vice versa.
Georgina ended up on skid row after fleeing an abusive husband. At first she lived with her handicapped, addicted mother in the St. Agnes Hotel, but she soon became addicted to crack cocaine herself and began living on the streets.
She found Sheba 17 years ago, chained to a pole, freed her, and took over the care of the German shepherd mix for the next 10 years — except for those periods she was in prison — until finding a home and entering recovery.
Sheba — still living on the streets, among the homeless – died in June after being struck by a car.
“I can’t say that it was Georgina’s relationship with Sheba that enabled her to enter and successfully complete a recovery program,” Dietrich writes. “But I can say without doubt that the maternal presence of this loving creature was one of the few positive attachment relationships in her life for a time, and that Sheba also touched the shattered lives of many addicts and petty drug dealers on Gladys Street. It’s possible that, for Georgina, the steady, unconditional love she got from Sheba provided just enough stability to make recovery seem possible.”
Dietrich notes that substance abuse can often be traced to early childhood trauma — abandonment, nutritional deprivation, battery, rape, or growing up in an unstable, unloving family:
“A dog is no substitute, certainly, for a loving, stable family or for strong human bonds. But most of the addicts on skid row haven’t known nurturing families for years, if they ever did. Sheba stepped into a void in Georgina’s life, and she made a difference.”
Dietrich, who is the author of ”Broken and Shared: Food, Dignity, and the Poor on Los Angeles’ Skid Row,” says that when a memorial service was held for Sheba in the dining garden of the soup kitchen, Georgina didn’t attend, upon the advice of her therapist, who feared a possible relapse.
“The gathering was full of fond memories of Sheba, but toward the end there was one awkward moment. Was it theologically correct, we wondered, to pray for a dog? But then someone in the crowd called out, “Let us pray for the loving gift that Sheba was to our community.
“We did. And the people of skid row said, ‘Amen.’”
Posted by jwoestendiek August 21st, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: catholic worker, cocaine, crack, drugs, food, georgina, homeless, Jeff Dietrich, kitchen, los angeles, love, memorial, recovery, remembrance, sheba, skid row, soup, stability, streets, substance abuse, unconditional