Homeless Man Moves into Dog Park
Homeless Man Moves into Dog Park
The gentle interplay of dogs and owners in off-leash dog park,
Was challenged one day when homeless man moved in, to stay in the park with his dog.
He was not your ordinary homeless person,
But clean, well-dressed, well-educated, well-spoken, friendly.
He set up camp in the prime sheltered area, with its covered table and bench seats.
He had a posh swag which he set up at night on the table and bags of stuff.
He packed up his bags and swag, each morning and stored them on the benches during the day.
Whenever you visited the park, there he was, with his dog and belongings.
He was very friendly at first, and his dog got on OK with most of the dog visitors as well.
At first it was a novelty; people expected him to move out soon.
But days stretched to a week and then to a month and a half.
His set-up was ideal, as his dog was enclosed.
He could shower at the pool near by, and have a cup coffee. The shops were nearby.
He had a roof overhead above the table to keep dry.
The park was quite secure, not a street side bench nor isolated bench in a park.
After dark there was no one there, solitude was his friend.
He had a steady stream of people and dogs coming daily to meet and greet.
He had a captivated audience to talk with, and discuss his plight.
After days became weeks, the dog park community divided into three groups.
Those that said: "Poor Man, What can we do to Help"
Those that ignored him, and avoided him, by sitting and playing well away from him in other park areas.
Those that disapproved, who felt that his squat in their park was an affront.
Rumblings, whispering and chat developed between the groups, as his stay extended.
There were various reactions depending on the group:
"He has to go." "His dog has become territorial, nips and barks other dogs"
"Why can't he find a proper home in a shelter?"
"I don't want him here any more"
"I don't want to talk with him"
"I loved to sit at the table and bench, now I can't"
"I like him and he is good for a chat, always friendly and greeting me"
"Poor homeless man!"
"He's well groomed, clean and doing no harm"
"Let's give him all the help when we can, poor man and dog"
After six weeks the homeless man and his dog were still there.
He became more and more aware of the whispers and derogatory glances, and some people had shunned him.
He had his friends, but others disliked him and avoided him.
Some people started discussing how to get rid of him, to move him on, away from their dog park.
But how could this happen?
Rumors arose that he had been offered proper shelter, but had refused to accept the offers.
The local Council and Police said that they cannot move homeless people on, if they don't cause offence.
The local park benches and side walks in the area are inhabited by poor homeless people in the area.
Many of these people had been there on the same bench at night a for months or for years.
The dissatisfaction, unease and disquiet grew in the community.
The homeless man became aware of sniggers and glances of disgust and disapproval.
Perhaps his friends had warned him that some people were plotting to get him gone.
He started to call out to those that ignored him, and walked away to other areas in the park.
Perhaps he could not understand why some rejected him and disliked him,
Why people rejected his friendly advances.
Unease grew in the three groups that were for or against him in various degrees.
The homeless man had split the community and the chasms widened
The homeless man became more and more aware that some people wanted him gone.
He began to single out certain people and began to be abusive, especially to some women.
He accused some of plotting his removal.
He started to shout personal abuse at people, about how they looked and their views.
Despite this, the community put up with this for a time, hoping he would go voluntarily.
Finally the verbal abuse grew to in-your-face shouting and assaulting.
This caused one brave woman to go to the police and complain of assault.
The police warned that the homeless man could take legal action against the complainer.
But, the next day the homeless man was led away and detained for a time.
He was released and encouraged to go to the shelters he was offered.
He was warned to stay well away from the dog park and the surrounding area.
The police checked several times later to ensure he had not returned.
But strangely the polarity in the dog park community remained and caused some hostility.
Supporters of the homeless man grumbled, complained and were upset that some in the park had acted to move him on.
Those directly involved feared confrontation and verbal abuse for their actions.
Hostile words were exchanged, claiming lack of sympathy for a poor homeless man and refugee in need.
Most people were happy to see him go, and to get back their use of the table and benches area.
Happy to be rid of having to deal with the confrontation and and hassles.
Gradually the dog park community settled back into a happy, friendly place.
A diverse group of very different people, drawn together to communicate.
Led to make friends with other owners by their dogs.
People knew the dog's names better than their owner's names.
People and dogs became friends by enjoying the dog park.
Like all social engagements there were on-going issues to deal with.
Dogs fought, some dogs played well together others not.
Dogs big and small, did what dogs do, good and bad.
The interplay and friendliness of the dog owners also varied a lot.
The local dog park is a hub for human and dog social engagement and play.
Copyright © John Anderson | Year Posted 2017