The only thing that's possibly more devastating than finding yourself on the street is having to let a friend take care of a beloved pet because you are homeless. It's hard enough to me to cope with what's going on but at least I'm conscious of it; a dog can't grasp why he isn't being fed this evening or what happened to me.
Prince, who is nearly 13-years old, is a Golden Retriever I adopted some six or seven years ago from a privately funded and run pet rescue organization that specializes in Goldens. His fur is all white, and he's all gentleman, all sweetheart and all loving. He loves every creature he meets, two legged and four, and all creatures seem to love him. He's been my buddy throughout everything that's happened to me over the last few years, seemingly knowing when I would accept his kind offer to play with me and when I needed to be quiet for a little while.
Either way was fine with Prince. He was just as happy to grab a toy for me to tug on with him or to lie down next to my bed and snooze as long as I needed to be out.
One of the things that has kept me going was knowing that, once I got myself re-situated, Prince and I would joyfully reunite. But now I am going to lose Prince along with everything else that I've lost.
Losing Family Members
For anyone who has had a pet that they truly loved, you know that the dog or cat or gerbil becomes a member of the family - except they don't get on your nerves, or tell you that you're wrong, or start a fight for no real reason. Prince, like all of the other dogs who've graced my life over the decades, gives unconditional love. When I'd come home, he'd greet me with total enthusiasm whether I'd been gone 10 minutes, 10 hours or 10 days.
I've lost dogs when they died, starting with Tarzan who was a gentle giant of a 100-pound Boxer that went I was 12 or so. It's never gotten easier. But I've never had to part with a living, brieathing, healthy pooch for any reason; other than if I went a trip someplace for a few days or a week, I've never been apart from the dog I happened to have at any given moment and Prince was no exception. Being single and having no kids or immediate family - my parents and sister each died during the 1990s - meant that there was always another living, breathing soul who was gleefully sharing my life, whether it was Prince or any of his predecessors
Some friends took him in temporarily when I suddenly had no place to live or go, but "temporary" is starting to seem like "permanent" to them and they've asked me to find another place for Prince to stay.
I spoke with the rescue organization and, given his age, it's agreed to find a home for him for a few months.
But I am constantly on the verge of tears, wondering now if Prince and I will ever be together again.
Look, I know that given the pressing urgency of everything that I am dealing with at the moment, a dog should be the least of my worries and concerns. But when you've lost everything, losing a loved one is almost too much to bear.
I've had some alright days over the past few months, and some truly awful ones. Today is one of the awful days.
Charley James is an American journalist and writer who lives in Toronto. He is writing a new book based on his experience of being homeless and his memoir, "There's A Monkey In The Yard!", is due to be published next summer.
Posted: Wednesday, 6 June 2012