A True Love Story

Update on Johnny and Buddy

– By Beth Green, Founder

I know that our online community has been wanting an update regarding our friend “Johnny” and his dog Buddy.

JohnnyI have really struggled with what to write because the news is not good, and although I try to separate myself emotionally to “protect” myself from heartache, I inevitably always fail to do so and find myself deeply attached on some level withall the homeless folks and their pets that I work with. The same can be said for Buddy and Johnny….who have a REAL LIFE true love story.

If you missed the first part of Johnny and Buddy’s story you can read it here.

On Friday, I went to see Johnny in the hospital.  He had a CT scan the day before and had gotten the results. He shared with me that his doctors told him that in addition to internal bleeding that they thought could be the result of colorectal or stomach cancer, he has pancreatic cancer and spots were now evident on his liver.  Johnny has also suffered three heart attacks in the last several years, so his heart is in a weakened state. Although a biopsy had yet to be done the doctor was less than optimistic about Johnny’s chances of survival.

Johnny asked the doctor how long he had to live.  The doctor told him that without any additional medical treatment he would live no longer than six months. With treatment, MAYBE one year.

Although he tried to be cheery and optimistic I could hear the fear in his voice and see the sadness in his eyes as he told me this news.  My heart broke for him.  I’m almost ashamed to say that although Johnny was able to hold back his tears, I was not and what should have been a moment of ME offering comfort to him became a homeless man that I barely knew (but knew instantly that I cared about), comforting me with the gentleness of a father or a grandfather.

As we sat together, Johnny shared some of the story of his life with me. It struck me that his story could have been any one of ours.  It was a story of love and loss, happy times mixed with sad times. Financial gain followed by financial loss.  It was a typical story of the ebb and flow of what could have been any of our lives. We didn’t discuss the reason for his homelessness because it never really mattered to me (or anyone in our organization) what the circumstances are surrounding his living with his dog in a truck. It’s never about the “why’s” or “why nots” with MDEF. We only ever wanted to help him, regardless of his status in life or the circumstances of his past.

Johnny and I talked about his plans for the future.  Johnny wanted to just get out of the hospital as soon as he could and live the rest of his time with his dog Buddy until it ran out. He wants to spend his remaining time with the only source of unconditional love and affection he’s had for 12 years, his dog.

And that’s what he is doing.

Johnny checked out of the hospital on Saturday and we caught up with him picking his life-long companion up from the kennel. Thanks to your donations we were able to check them both into a pet friendly hotel where they were able to spend Valentines Day together and will remain for the rest of the week, until donations run out or until our team of board members and volunteers can make alternate arrangements for him with housing, hospice or whatever it is that we can do. We have received to date $1500 in donations for Johnny and Buddy.  Every dime received is going to provide Johnny and Buddy the comfort and support that they need in the coming weeks.

I spoke with Johnny today and – ever so cheery and like nothing in his world was out of whack – he told me of his wish to find an empty parking lot where he and Buddy could do doughnuts in the snow in his truck and invited me to go with them.

It made me smile.

If you would like to contribute to our fund for homeless/indigent individuals with pets, please click the “donate now” button located on every page of our website at www.mydogeatsfirst.org. Become a member of our online community at www.facebook.com/MyDogEatsFirst or www.twitter.com/MyDogEatsFirst.

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