On the eve of the Feast of St. Francis, Fr. Eric Schimmel, C.S.C., the director of André House, shares about two homeless people and their puppies, Dusty and Boots. Along the way, he causes us to examine our consciences regarding what we see and value in our lives.
I can assure you that the people I have spoken with who live on the streets also desire the same thing in a pet. They may even want more. The owners of Dusty and Boots enjoy having pets for the same reasons most people do. They enjoy playing with the animals, bonding with them, sharing the love and affection. But there's more. They also want the dogs to be trained as service dogs. One of the owners has seizures, and many dogs can be trained to know when their master is having a seizure and get help.
There is a sign that hangs in the wall of the office in our Main Hospitality Center that says, "Everyone wears an invisible sign reading 'Notice me! Make me feel special!'" Is it possible that we have grown so accustomed to not noticing, and that our policies in this country actively push aside and out of view our brothers and sisters who are poor and homeless that sometimes having an animal with them is the only way that they can get noticed again? The dog or cat can be the sign saying to us, "I'm here. Remember me!"