I keep dollar bills in my car. The kids used to argue at first, then poke fun at me for it. They know I give the money to street beggars. You probably do also. However, I don’t give money to all the street beggars I encounter. I’m not sure what it is that pushes my button, except for one group…street beggars with pets. Dogs mostly.
I live in Phoenix, perfect outdoor weather most of the year. Some of the panhandlers are quite creative, there is an older, very thin man, who stands at a busy corner wearing a hospital gown, including Id on his wrist and all, of course he leans on a walker adorned with little flags and cardboard signs. Somehow he doesn’t feel needy. But I can’t pass by any beggar with a dog or a cat. Some have both. During the hottest months they have blankets on the ground, water bowls and umbrellas, for the pets, not for themselves. How can you not want to help out a human being who cares so much about a pet? It all started a few years back. I was in Tucson, trying to get on the Interstate 10 and back to Phoenix. The sun was going down and I found myself driving under the freeway to get to the access ramp. A man, dressed in faded army fatigues limped along the narrow sidewalk, pulling an old bike with a flat tire. An emaciate dog, also limping, followed close. My heart dropped. I couldn’t stop, couldn’t even slow down, I would have caused an accident. Just as I entered the access ramp I could see the veteran sort of bend over, then sit on the sidewalk, the poor dog nuzzling at him. Every time I give a dollar to a beggar with a dog I send blessings to that Tucson veteran and his pet. I hope some spare dollars found their way to them.