Written by Kelly Brauer of Florida
About seven years ago, I was grocery shopping with a friend in West Palm Beach when we drove past two young men, a much younger girl and two dogs (with all their bags). They were trying to cool off in the shade of the trees at the end of the parking lot. We went into the grocery store to get some subs, snacks and drinks for the afternoon at the pool we had planned and also we both had to get a bag of dog food for our dogs. We loaded up the jeep and Sherry stayed in the vehicle while I was going to help the group and their dogs. I bought a $20 gift card, an extra bag of dog food and a gallon of water to give to the people and their dogs if they needed it. My friend Sherry wasn’t as sure as I was about trying to help out the group, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.
I went over just to ask them what the name of their dogs were as not to spook them at all. The two men seemed closed down and cautious while the girl was very talkative. She said that Bosco was a 2-year-old boxer mix while Henrietta was a 6-year-old standard poodle. I asked the girl, Patricia, if it was okay if I gave them some water and she was so grateful for such help that she began to cry. The men, Dean and Carl, told her to be quiet and glared at her when she started to tell me about being on the streets.
They just thanked me and tried to grab the dogs to excuse themselves from me. I told them I was only trying to help the dogs because I loved animals and didn’t mean to offend them. Patricia screamed that they really needed my help and told her brothers that they were jerks and to accept my help if for nothing else than to help Bosco and Henrietta!.They reluctantly gave up control and let me help the dogs, but they wouldn’t accept the gift card for themselves.
We Headed for My Apartment
As I sat there and petted and played with the dogs, Sherry came over about 20 minutes later, with the subs and some iced tea and she actually got us all to eat together. It was funny when Dean opened right up to Sherry and they were lost in conversation for about an hour. Carl, Patricia and I walked the dogs and played with tennis balls (I had two in my purse…go figure) while Sherry talked to Dean. After an hour or so more, I thought that it was time to go but asked if I could give them the gift card and a ride somewhere that they could sleep safely for the night. They all piled into the back of the jeep wagoneer and we headed to my apartment.
I convinced the landlord (he owed me a big favor) to let the family stay in the empty apartment next to me just for the night. He said yes and made a deal with the guys that if the guys would help him fix up the other two apartments, that he’d let them stay for the week or two. While they were settling in, Carl came over to get some blankets, pillows and dog supplies/toys. He was looking at the pictures on my wall while he waited and stopped at the picture of my husband’s Aunt Mary. He exclaimed, “How do you know my cousin, Mary?”
They Were Our Family
Turns out that these three were actually part of his family that I had never heard about. Carl told me that they had recently lost their house and their car and they were just trying to take care of their dogs since they didn’t want to take them to the pound. They settled in for the night and for almost a month they painted and landscaped the three apartment buildings. It turns out that both men helped out a lot and they were able to stay longer when Carl was hired as full time maintenance man. Patricia had just finished her freshman year in high school and I was able to make sure the dogs found a safe place to stay and plenty of fur friends to play with.
A year later, I lost my husband in a terrible accident and Dean and Sherry were married. They now have twin girls and a pit bull named Bahjah. Carl became the manager of the apartment building and just recently took over as co-owner of the building complex. Patricia just recently got a scholarship to the University of Miami and is hoping to become a veterinarian someday. Henrietta got cancer in November (2010) and went to the Rainbow Bridge in January (2011). Bosco is now turning 9 and has a new Boxer companion named Marcus…they’re inseparable!
I know this is all the exception to what usually happens when you help the homeless who have pets, but in my case my determination to help those dogs that day helped a family and gave them a second chance at a better life. Sometimes even the simplest gestures can mean more than we ever thought!
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