So I'm on the Yonge Line with the dog. And this tall young man gets on and sees the dog and wants to pet it and we end up having a conversation. He's got short, blond hair. He's good-looking in a kind of babyish way. For his height and his build his facial bones haven't gotten the thickness that separates a man from a boy. I'm figuring he's still in high school.
So he tells me that he's got an idea for how to help the homeless. Give them a dog to look after. Also, get them a place to stay and a job to go to. But the dog is crucial. The dog will give them companionship and support, but also make the (formerly) homeless responsible. They have to look after the dog. They've got to keep it together for the dog.
I'm thinking; "What a patronizing, un-worldly-wise, but sweet attitude!" I sorta keep up the conversation talking about how Cesar Millan was saying how a dog with a homeless owner isn't unhappy at all because it's always out and about, doing stuff, or just chilling. And it's got a boss/friend/companion. (I didn't go into how that pulls the rug out of this Norm MacDonald routine.)
But you know, it kinda, mighta been inspired by the sort of thinking in that Norm MacDonald bit. Because the next thing I told the kid was about this video I'd heard about, where a bunch of middle-or-upper class douche-bag "dog-lovers" decided to "rescue" animals with homeless people, from the homeless people. These people didn't think it was right for a little kitten or puppy to be with some dirty, sick, diseased poor person, while at the same time, having no opinion whatsoever about fellow human beings being homeless.
Long story short ...
In the video, they pull up in front of some homeless guy and snatch his puppy away from him. And he tries to keep a hold on it but the prevail and off they go.
That's what I'd heard about the video. I tell this to the kid and he almost starts crying right there. And we agree with each other how important the bond can be between people and animals. Then he returns to his idea.
Well, I don't know how to put this, other than to just say it: It quickly dawns on me that the story he's telling me isn't an idea, but an already existing fact. He really did scope out some homeless guy and decide said homeless guy was on the up-and-up. He really did go up to the guy and tell him "Today your life is gonna change!" And somehow or other, this kid really did get the homeless guy a job and an apartment. And a dog.
I look at the kid. His clothes. Suddenly I recognize all sorts of designer labels. This kid is rich. I don't know where the money really comes from. Parents probably. A job in a firm he's connected with. What he wants to do is see how successful his little experiment is and to get funding for a larger-scale project with lots more homeless people getting dogs (and jobs and homes).
I don't really know what to say. On the one hand; yes, it's patronizing. On another hand; stable employment and shelter is a benefit in itself. On my third hand, some people do have issues with substance abuse, loneliness, low self-esteem. Having a pet on top of the job and the shelter could give them some much-needed structure and support. On my fourth hand the kid's heart is in the right place. On the fifth and final hand, it's just some guy talking to me because of the dog.
We both got off at Eglinton Station. A lot rich people live nearby. (A lot of other people transfer to buses to other areas. I didn't see where he went.
the above story is true ...