This soapbox gets plenty of use and has since I first climbed up on it way back in the 60s but for a while it seemed I was just bringing it out only for global and national causes like ‘Saving The Whales’ and ‘Global Warming’ and such.
Now don’t get me wrong these are all good causes and I do and will continue to work for them. I sign petitions, I get involved in activities, and I write articles for my various web sites but I was hit in the face with the reality recently that I needed to do more – I need to bring my causes down to a more personal level – to get down in the trenches so to speak.
Last weekend was the march in New York and I wanted to go but life seemed to get in the way so I sent out emails, signed petitions, and donated my time from my desk. What I really wanted to do was join them but at 64 I convinced myself I couldn’t just climb in the car and drive up there like I used to do when I was 20.
Saturday I had to go downtown for something and I stopped at the Lakefront Shopping Mall for a few minutes. I saw an elderly man sitting on a bench in front of the Dollar Store who really looked rather lost; it was kind of chilly out but all he had on was a raggedy tee shirt, some filthy jeans, and no shoes. He was talking to some mangy dog that was laying at his feet and there were tears in his eyes. Everyone seemed to be giving him a wide berth and when I got close I could tell why – he stunk.
I stopped a few feet up wind from him and asked if he were okay and he mumbled something about someone kicking his dog.
“Don’t bother with him” a woman said coming out the door “He’s been sitting there all morning, someone needs to call the Police.”
” I told you to go on down the street Old Man. If I have to tell you again I’ll call the Police.” the manager said coming outside.
“I hope he wasn’t bothering you.” he said holding the door for me, as the elderly man bent down and picked up his dog and put him in a grocery cart from down the street then sort of shuffled away.
“No not at all, is he a local?” I asked taking a cart.
The manager explained something about living in the woods in a tent and someone supposedly stealing his stuff and kicking his dog,
“I called the Police and they can’t do anything because he’s not breaking any laws or soliciting and the shelter won’t take him because he has a dog. I feel sorry for him but he’s bad for business and I can’t have him hanging around my store.”
I picked up the few things I came after and then on a nudge from that small voice inside me I checked my bank balance and picked up a can opener, some dog food and a dish , and some human food items along with a jacket and some toiletries and proceeded to the checkout.
After a few more stops and a trip home to gather up some things I called a friend of mine then drove around until I found the man. This time I took the backpack I had brought with me out of the car and walked up and set down beside him; the dog looked up and whimpered.
“Are you and your dog hungry?” I said handing him the bag.
His face lit up and the tears streamed from his eyes when he saw the food for him and his dog. He lifted his friend out of the cart and opened a can; I almost cried as I watched the dog wagging his tail as he struggled to stand up to eat.
While they were eating I went back to my car and got out the small tent and other things I had gathered up.
“When you’ve finished eating I’ll take you over to Southgate to see Pastor Jim, he ‘s called someone to take a look at your dog and will let you take a shower and clean up and give you some shoes and clean clothes. He has also promised to find a place for the two of you to stay for a few days while he heals and maybe get you some help.”
“God Bless You.” Andy said when he and Admiral got out of the car at the church where help was waiting