A homeless Knoxville man plans to hitch his two huskies to a homemade dog sled made out of a lawn chair and a skateboard and travel 2,200 miles across the country to Venice Beach, California.
Georgie Cutright says the purpose of his journey is to see the country, spread some joy and, for once in his life, finish something.
“I’ve never actually finished anything in my life, you know?” Cutright, 41, told the Knoxville News Sentinel. “This is something that’s going to be really incredible to do, and it’s something that I’m really, really adamant about finishing.”
How adamant the dogs who will power his “urban dog sled” — Sarah and Lobos — are is another question.
He could face some questions as well from local authorities as he makes his journey, and possibly animal welfare advocates, given the dogs will be running the distance of two Iditarods, on pavement no less.
Cutright says he plans to outfit the dogs in booties and take multiple breaks, though, and that — given the trip is partly about sharing his love for his rescued dogs — they will be treated well.
Currently living out of his van, Cutright has been training his two dogs on the streets of Knoxville, and drawing crowds when he does so. He plans to sell the van to finance the trip, which he hopes to start soon.
“I was sitting on a skateboard and holding Sarah’s leash one day when she took off,” he told the Journal Gazette & Times-Courier.
He held on to the leash and rolled along behind them. After that, he says, he learned to balance on a chair atop the long skateboard as the dogs pulled him.
He uses his shoes as brakes and has taught the dogs commands: “Yah” to get them to speed up, “Whoa” to slow down,” and “hard right” or “hard left” for turning.
Cutright says he will take country roads that parallel Interstate 40, camping in a tent at night.
Originally from Mattoon, Illinois, Cutright said he became homeless two years ago after he lost his job as a carpenter. He said he’s been unable to secure another steady job because of a felony conviction for an armed robbery when he was 18.
A friend will be making the trip with him.
Cutright has already secured his first sponsor: HeadQuarters skateboard shop, which donated multiple sets of wheels and bearings for the journey.
He said he will stay in motels when he can, and in people’s homes when they offer to put him up.
Cutright said he got Sarah off Craigslist from a woman who was moving, and acquired Lobos from the police department in Venice Beach when the dog’s homeless owner was arrested.
“I just want people to know that if you put your mind to something, you can do it. Anybody can, even a homeless guy.”
(Photos: Kevin Kilhoffer / Journal Gazette & Times-Courier)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 20th, 2017 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 2, 200 miles, animals, cross country, dog, dog sled, dogs, george cutright, georgie cutright, homeless, homemade, huskies, knoxville, lawn chair, makeshift, pets, pulling, skateboard, sled, tennessee, trip, urban dog sled
This confrontation between a dog and a sheriff’s deputy didn’t come out well for anybody.
The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said that the deputy, who was not identified by name, was attempting to contact the dog’s owner following the mauling of a homeless man when she was attacked.
The incident took place over the weekend at a homeless encampment in Hudson, Fla.
Deputies had received a report about a pit bull at the encampment attacking a homeless man and responded to interview the owner, according to Fox13.
As the deputy approached, the dog broke its leash and went after her, grabbing her pant leg and causing her to trip.
The deputy fired several shots at the dog, killing it, but one of the shots grazed her own hand, injuring a finger.
“I shot my finger off,” she can be heard saying in the body cam video the sheriff’s office released.
Her injury was treated a local hospital.
The sheriff’s office says the deputy has three pit bulls herself and she is familiar with the breed.
No charges have been filed yet.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 30th, 2016 under videos.
Tags: animals, attacked, body cam, deputy, dog, dogs, encampment, florida, homeless, hudson, injured, killed, law enforcement, officer, pasco county, pets, pit bull, police and dogs, released, sheriff, sheriff's office, shoots, shoots self, video
(In memory of Gladys, who passed away Friday, we’re reprinting this story from two years ago about the fluffy white dog, the homeless man that took her in and the Maryland town that showed them both some love.)
For more than a decade, they were a familiar sight around downtown Salisbury, Maryland — the homeless man and his silky white dog.
You could often find them stationed outside Benedict the Florist, or located in what was an even shrewder spot to panhandle — behind the Dunkin Donuts, where cars lined up at the drive-through.
Elwood, the homeless man, and Gladys, his dog, weren’t shooed away too often in Salisbury. That, likely, was in part because of Elwood’s friendly demeanor, maybe in larger part because of his highly sociable dog, who he found as a pup in a box by a Dumpster, or in a bag in the middle of Highway 13, depending on who’s telling the story
In any event, the troubled man and the Wheaton mix became partners in homelessness, and for more than a decade survived off the kindness of friends and strangers in Salisbury.
No one saw Elwood, though some people were pretty sure they had spotted the dog at various locations around town.
Edna Walls had that feeling when she saw a silky white, mid-sized dog at a groomers recently, asked about it and learned it was — sure enough — Gladys.
Elwood Towers had died in May, 2013 of cancer, the groomer explained to her, and since then his dog has been living with the owner of the flower shop outside of which Elwood and Gladys once panhandled. She recounted the encounter in a reader-submitted column published on Delmarva Now.
The Lucky Dog Pet Salon never charged Elwood for grooming Gladys, Walls reported, just like some local veterinarians cut him a break when Gladys needed shots or medical treatment.
An obituary for Elwood on Legacy.com makes note of the kindness the two received. Submitted by his “adoptive family,” it thanks “the business and professional community and the thousands of people that took the time to help him, say a kind word, or give Gladys a pet. Those things are what made his life meaningful.”
The obituary continues, “He leaves behind his dearest and closest companion, Gladys. The ‘homeless man and his white dog’ were well recognized from their travels throughout the Salisbury area in the last 15 years. Elwood loved the outdoors and his ‘WORK;’ the proceeds of which were often shared with others in need.”
George Benedict, who took in Gladys after Elwood’s death, agrees that Elwood was known for being poor, but also for being a giving sort. Once, he got kicked out of an apartment for refusing to get rid of a stray bird he was nursing back to health.
“He was a generous man,” Benedict told ohmidog! “If he took in $100, he’d give half of it away or buy groceries for friends in need.”
Elwood, before he died, took steps to make sure Gladys would be cared for. He asked George Benedict to take ownership of Gladys.
In years of writing about homeless people, and homeless dogs, and homeless people with homeless dogs, it’s something I’ve noticed. A homeless person may not know where their next meal is coming from, but they know where their dog’s is. A homeless person may have no roof over his head, and no plan for tomorrow, but likely they’ve made contingency plans for what will happen to their dog when they’re gone.
Benedict, who had always been fond of Gladys — who’d never suggested the pair move on when they lingered outside his shop — agreed. He’s retired now, and the floral shop — a local institution for 130 years — closed in 2011. Benedict still works with homeless people, though, through an organization called Hope, Inc.
He knew Elwood for almost 15 years, and remembers when Elwood found Gladys — in a box by a Dumpster, he says — and decided to keep the pup. Some people told Elwood that was a mistake, Benedict recalls, pointing out to Elwood that he could barely take care of himself.
Elwood had spent much of his life in prison, including his teens. He looked down on drug use, and while he enjoyed a beer or two, he wasn’t a heavy drinker, Benedict said.
Still, after taking in Gladys, Elwood never had another drink, Benedict said. “She was pretty much his whole life.”
For a while, Benedict said, Elwood lived in an unheated garage, paying $300 a month for it. About the time city inspectors asked him to leave, Gladys had a litter of pups. Elwood gave them away, including one to Benedict.
Benedict said that dog died at age 6, from lymphoma.
“I never imagined I would actually wind up with Gladys,” Benedict said.
In his final years, Elwood was fighting cancer, too. His lower jaw had to rebuilt after one surgery. He called off the fight in 2012, deciding not to seek further treatment.
In Elwood’s final months, Benedict spent a lot of time with him. He died May 17, 2013, at age 75 at Coastal Hospice at the Lake.
Benedict took Gladys to the groomer just before Elwood’s funeral, and she attended the service, along with about 35 humans.
“They were sort of unique in Salisbury,” Benedict said. “I guess it was the combination of him and Gladys. People gave him a lot more tolerance than they might some other folks.”
Gladys is 14 now.
“She’s an amazing dog,” Benedict says. She just instinctively likes to be with people … My wife and I are convinced she has some sort of aura about her. She goes with me wherever I go, and all the stores let her in. Wherever I go, people get out of their car and say ‘what kind of dog is that?’ I tell them she’s a Wheaton mix.
“Some of them say ‘I used to give food to a man who had a dog like that.'”
Donations in memory of Elwood and Gladys can be made to the organization specified in his obituary: The Humane Society of Wicomico County, 5130 Citation Drive, Salisbury, MD 21804.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 28th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, benedict the florist, compassion, dead, death, dog, dogs, elwood, elwood towers, george benedict, gladys, gladys and elwood, homeless, homelessness, maryland, pets, salisbury
Laurel Kinder, the head of Kinder4Rescue, says the emaciated Chihuahua was found Friday wandering the streets of North Hollywood.
When a vet checked the dog for a microchip, Faris’ name came up as the owner, as well as information about where Pete had been adopted from.
The rescue organization was contacted, took custody of the dog, and will seek to find him a new home.
Kinder told TMZ that in signing the contract for the adoption of Pete Faris agreed to pay the fine if she ever parted with the dog without informing them.
Faris, in a statement to People magazine, said she gave the dog to another family when her son was born.
“Five years ago I adopted an adorable Chihuahua named Pete, from the Kinder4Rescue Animal Rescue. Unfortunately when our son was born, we discovered that he was allergic to Pete, so I found what I thought was a loving and responsible family to care for him.
“My agreement with the animal rescue required me to contact them first before allowing another family to take Pete in. I failed to do this, and for that I am deeply sorry. I now understand the dangers of giving animals away for free.”
“I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that Pete has been found and is back in the hands of Kinder4Rescue. I feared that he had been lost forever and, although he is malnourished and in need of care, it seems he is going to make a full recovery. For this, I am so deeply thankful…”
Faris is the Baltimore-born star of the CBS series “Mom,” whose numerous film credits include “Scary Movie” and its sequels, “House Bunny,” and “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.”
The North Hollywood shelter said it had been unable to reach Faris and her husband, actor Chris Pratt, since the dog was found Friday.
Five years ago, Pratt was widely criticized on social media for getting rid of the couple’s cat.
Before putting the cat up for adoption, he announced on Twitter that he and his wife wanted to “start a family” and “absolutely cannot have an animal that shits all over the house.”
Posted by John Woestendiek November 23rd, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: actor, actress, adoption, animals, anna faris, chihuahua, chris pratt, contract, dog, dogs, emaciated, fine, fined, five thousand dollars, found, homeless, kinder4rescue, los angeles, microchip, penalty, pets, rescue, shelter, starving, stray
Two lost souls coming together isn’t exactly a new movie theme, but it still works, especially when it has a twist like this one.
“A Stray” is about a young man whose refugee family fled Somalia and relocated in Minneapolis. He becomes sort of a double stray when his family kicks him out after he gets in some trouble.
At a mosque, Adan finds shelter. He gets a job, delivering food, and seems to be pulling his life together when his delivery vehicle strikes a dog.
Adan, at the urging of a bystander, hesitantly loads the small white mutt in the car and takes him to a vet, who pronounces the dog OK. It is then that Adan learns he must take the dog with him.
That’s a problem because, on top of being homeless, Adan is Muslim. Under Muslim law, dogs are considered dirty. Many practicing Muslims, like Adan’s family, forbid them in the home. When he arrives back at the mosque with the dog, he’s told to leave.
What happens next — when a man raised to have nothing to do with dogs ends up with a stray, when his God and his Dog are seemingly irreconcilable forces — makes for a thought-provoking and magical movie.
It premiered earlier this year at the South By Southwest (SXWS) Film Festival, and had several screenings last weekend, introduced by writer-director Musa Syeed, at the Film Society of Minneapolis and St Paul.
The human star of the movie is actor Barkhad Abdirahman, a Somali refugee who lives in Minneapolis.
Director Syeed, in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio, said he was intrigued by the idea of combining the archetypal American/Western man-and-dog story with Muslim sensitivities towards dogs.
“What was interesting to me about a Muslim kid and a dog was that these are two entities that seemingly are not able to reconcile, or that are so different,” he said. “And I think that’s the way that maybe a lot of people see, you know, Muslims in America … there is some inherent tension or something like that.”
He said he hopes that the story of a man and his forbidden dog shows that there is room for compassion, understanding and a connection.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 21st, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: a stray, america, animals, barkhad abdirahman, bonding, clashing, cultures, dirty, dog, dogs, forbidden, god, homeless, islam, lost souls, minneapolis, mosque, movie, musa syeed, muslims, pets, refugee, religion, somali, somalia, stray dogs, strays
When you’re homeless, you can run into a lot of Catch 22’s — those can’t-win situations that, even when you’re taking steps to improve your life, tend to make things appear even more hopeless.
Having a dog is a perfect example.
To a homeless person, having a dog (or, in the case of our Monday post, a cat) can have numerous benefits: Protection, for one. It can instill a greater will to survive and succeed. It can provide some self-esteem, emotional security, and companionship for sure — the kind that comes without judgment.
While some segments of society may be repulsed by the sight of you, your dog will always be thrilled.
But having a dog when you’re homeless can also be a tremendous obstacle — keeping you from being admitted to homeless shelters, finding the money to feed it, and making already problematic chores, like going to the bathroom, even more problematic.
Still, it’s not unusual that, when given a choice between shelter and their dog, the dog often comes first — as has been the case so far with a recently homeless woman and her boxer mix, named Cow, featured in a two-part series in the Toledo Blade this week.
“She is my whole world, my rock. I don’t know what I’d do without her.” 51-year-old Diann Wears said of her dog.
Wears, who in earlier stages of her troubled life worked as a prostitute and was addicted to crack, said it is her first time living on the streets.
“It’s totally new to me and totally scary, I’m not gonna lie,” she said. “But Cow and I, we have each other, and she gives me a lot of love and support.”
She says she tried to find an apartment that her Social Security and Supplemental Security Income would cover, but “they either turned me down because of Cow, or because I don’t make enough money.”
She has no intention of parting with Cow, she said.
Toledo’s homeless shelters — like most across the country — do not allow pets, and she was rejected, she said, by a YWCA shelter that provides haven for women fleeing domestic violence and their pets.
“They don’t think I’m in danger from my ex,” Wears said.
So Wears and Cow remain without shelter — unless you count the overhang of the bus station’s roof.
Having a dog, Wears noted, makes simple tasks, like attending a free meal, more difficult. She either has to leave Cow outside, leashed to her shopping cart, or find a friend she trusts enough to watch him.
Sometimes, she says, it’s hard to simply find a place in the shade to rest — without being told to leave, either because of the dog or because she is loitering.
She often sits on the grass at St. Paul United Methodist Church, where the pastor allows her to stay as long as neither she nor Cow causes any trouble, the Blade reported. (You can find part two of the series here.)
“We don’t bother anybody, but people judge us anyway because we’re homeless,” Diann said. “Or they’re afraid of Cow, even when she’s just lying there.”
Wears said Cow provides her some protection during the night.
Unsure as she is of the future, she is committed to two things — keeping Cow by her side and not going back to her abusive boyfriend.
“It’s hard out here, but I’m away from that at least I’ll take my chances out here. I have my dog and we’ll survive one way or the other, some kind of way.”
(Photo: The Toledo Blade)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 21st, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abuse, animals, benefits, boxer, catch 22, choice, cow, diann wears, dilemma, dogs, homeless, homeless shelters, mix, obstacles, ohio, paradox, pets, shelters, toledo, toledo blade
The true story of how a street cat named Bob changed the life of an alcoholic street musician in London came out in book form three years ago .
Now the movie version is coming — in which Bob is played (mostly) by Bob.
James Bowen’s autobiographical book telling the story of his struggle with addiction and of his life on the streets, in homeless shelters and in supported housing sold millions of copies.
Its focus was on the bond he formed with Bob after the cat found his way into Bowen’s room in a subsidized housing complex.
The pair went on become inseparable, winning fans across London.
Luke Treadaway stars as Bowen, a street musician overcoming a troubled childhood.
But in most of the scenes featuring Bob, that’s the real Bob you’ll be seeing.
The film is scheduled for release in early November.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 19th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: a street cat named bob, addiction, alcoholism, animals, bob, book, busker, cat, cats, changed, homeless, james bowen, life, luke treadaway, movie, musician, pets