In my city (Paris, France) there is a homeless man…
Every day he is begging, always at the same place. Despite ‘his situation,’ he is always smiling and says “hello” or “have a good day” even to people who don’t donate to him.
This man has a dog who is as gentle as he is. It never barks or shows its teeth. Many people say this man is dumb, having a dog when he can barely feed himself. Despite being summer in France, mornings are often cold.
One morning, I was walking and I saw him with his dog. He was hugging him tightly. They were very cold.
It was so cold, seeing those two felt like a knife to the heart. I thought about them all day, even though I don’t have a lot of money, I decided to do something.
The next morning I told my boss I was taking the morning off. I took one of my blankets, bought a whole box of food for the dog, and as much food for the man as I could carry.
I bought two coffees and asked if I could sit and talk with him for a few minutes. He agreed.
I asked him why he was there and he asked me why I was speaking to him.
So I told him “Every day I walk to work. And every day everyone around me seems so sad except for you. You are always smiling. You always seem so happy despite your living conditions and every day you warm my heart. Every day I tell myself that even if it’s a bad day and I am not as happy as I want to be, here’s this man living on the street who seems happier than I am despite that he has nothing.”
He stopped me and said “I have something, something that you can’t value. It’s this little boy in my arms (the dog).”
I asked him how he found this dog and he told me:
“One day I asked myself why I was still living if I was just going to be begging for my survival. I had no one to think about, and no one who would miss me if I died. So it was two years ago when I was on the bridge when I was about to commit suicide and then this little guy came, barking at me and even biting my cloths, preventing me from jumping. So I gave him the last cookie I had in my pocket. He was so happy that I cried and decided not to jump. Since that moment, he’s all I have and he is like my child. Sometimes he goes off for a walk and returns with something for both of us to eat (piece of cake, half eaten sandwich etc…). He always wants to sleep next to me.”
I asked him if he had ever found a place at a homeless shelter and he told me something that brought me to tears.
“8 months ago, I was offered a place to sleep, something to eat and a warm place to stay. Thing is, dogs were not allowed. So I declined the offer. This guy is all I have left and I would rather die than abandon him. When I thought that I had nothing, this little boy taught me love and gave me something to live for. I can never thank him enough for that. When people give me money, I always buy food for him. I only buy human food when I have everything he needs. I sometimes hear people telling me that I am dumb for having him, and I say to them ‘maybe he’s an animal, but he’s given me more love than any human I have ever met and for that, I will never let him go hungry.’”
Hearing that, I gave him the blanket and the food. He thanked me like no one ever has. He said that thanks to me, Bobby (the dog) would eat well and never be cold again.
And then for reasons I still can’t explain, I gave him a piece of paper, wrote my address on it, tied it to the dog’s collar and said “you don’t have to worry anymore. If someday something bad happens to you, I will take care of Bobby. He will never be alone.”
Then he cried. That day I saw the happiest man in my life and I wish you could have seen the same.