Disliking all the rules that come with staying in a homeless shelter — especially the ones that prohibit dogs — Bernard Holland chose homelessness over doglessness.
He’d arrived in indianapolis a few weeks before Thanksgiving, stayed with family until that turned sour, then — as temperatures plummeted — pitched a tent in what’s known as The Jungle, a homeless camp just east of downtown.
That’s where a social worker ran into him and his two-year-old mutt, Oreo, on a night temperatures were dropping below zero.
Now, one of them, at least, is staying warm.
When Ben Bierlein, owner of Wigglebutt Doghouse, heard of the pair’s plight, he offered to take Oreo in and foster her at the daycare and boarding facility.
“To us, the real story here is about a man, although down on his luck and living in a tent, who would not give up on his dog,” Bierlein explained to the Indianapolis Star.
“The fact that he was willing to gut it out in sub-zero temperatures because he didn’t want to leave his dog — that’s pretty powerful. With the myriad of reasons people surrender their dogs to shelters, Bernard would have had a very valid reason, but he loves Oreo; she means the world to him.”
Bierlein, after being contacted by the social worker who came across Holland and Oreo — Melissa Burgess of Horizon House – offered to care for Oreo during the cold snap. He also paid to get Oreo up to date on shots and to be spayed.
Normally, that would allow Holland to get a slot at a homeless shelter. But he’s still living outside — at least partly by choice.
Holland says he’ll continue to make his home in a tent, unless the nights get too unbearably cold. He says he’s put off by the early curfew and other rules of homeless shelters, and considers them a last resort.
He has enrolled in Opportunity Knocks classes through Horizon House, and he hopes to find a job as a painter or janitor. Horizon House is also trying to help him find affordable housing where Oreo, who he has had since she was four months old, would be welcome.
Holland, 53, said he once operated his own drywall business in Chicago, but in 1992 he was shot at random by two teens as part of their gang initiation and had to undergo multiple surgeries.
Now, he says, he just wants to “get Oreo back, have a roof over my head and have a job and do the right thing in life. I’m not looking to be rich, just live a happy life.”
He plans to hop on the bus and visit Oreo regularly until they are reunited.
Meanwhile, ”Oreo is putting smiles on all of the faces here,” the owner of Wigglebutt said. “She is adorable, the biggest sweetheart — and she has made lots of new four-legged friends. She’s very dog-social. If you could watch her during the day, you’d think she’s been coming to doggie day care for years.”
(Photo: Mike Fender / The Star)
Posted: January 21st, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bernard holland, boarding, day care, dog, doghouse, dogs, homeless, homelessness, humans, oreo, pets, rules, shelters, social services, wigglebutt, winter