A young woman had knelt to talk to a homeless man outside the Job Centre. She’d bought him a bottle of juice, a sandwich and a ring-pull can of dog food for his ‘best friend’ who lay curled up on a rug next to him. They were discussing the problem of trying to get a job when you have ‘no fixed abode,’ and no internet access, let alone money for bus fares or decent clothes for an interview… should you ever get one.
Suddenly the crowd of passing shoppers scattered as a rogue cyclist mounted the pavement to cut past the heavy traffic. As they leapt to safety, buggies, old ladies and shopping trolleys were swept aside as the Lycra-clad rampager sped towards the little group on the ground. The quick-witted young woman pulled the man away from the speeding machine, but the ageing dog was directly in it’s path and with a pitiful yelp, he collapsed under the front wheel.
A small crowd gathered and the atmosphere was getting heated, with cries of ‘Shame on you,’ and ‘You bastard, look what you’ve done!’ Things were getting tense and the crowd began to look ugly – in England you certainly don’t harm a dog, even if he’s a rough sleeper. Tempers were rising and one man grabbed at the bike and started lambasting the cyclist who, white-faced and ashamed backed against the wall. Trembling and tearful, he knelt down to the recumbent pooch and gently felt for a pulse. Everyone fell silent as a muffled whimper came from the limp form and the old dog raised his grey muzzle and opened his eyes.
“Oh Christ, thank God,” gasped his owner – “He’s all I’ve got.”
“Look, if you’ll let me, I’ll check him over. I’m a vet and I can see what’s needed, won’t cost you a penny. What d’you say?” offered the remorseful cyclist. Murmurs of approval greeted this and the homeless man was glad to accept it. So after carefully checking the dog for injuries the cyclist phoned his practice for an animal ambulance, which soon appeared. The young woman urged them to take the homeless man to the surgery too so he could be near his dog which would be a comfort to both of them.
“Will you let me know how they are please?” she asked, turning to the cyclist as the crowd cheered the ambulance off. Somewhat recovered himself, he smiled as they exchanged phone numbers and he retrieved his slightly bent bike, “Yes, of course, I think the dog, at least will be OK.”
A day or so later she got a call from him to say the dog had a few small cuts and bruises but no broken bones or internal injuries, and that his owner had turned out to be extremely good with animals. They’d even had him helping out in their kennels where he was also doing very well. Who knows, maybe there’s a proper job there for him …