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Monday, June 30, 2008

The Men and Their Dog at the Japanese Garden

This has to be one of the more unusual and thought-provoking episodes from our trip home from Washington. We were admiring the pond and waterfall, sort of the centerpiece of the gardens, when a man (the one wearing the orange sweatshirt in the photo) stood at the top of the waterfall and asked me in a loud voice if I would take a picture of him and his dog. He said that the dog was recently going to be "put down" at the animal shelter, so he and his friend had rescued it and were taking care of the dog. I said I would be glad to photograph them. After I got some photos of the first man, the other man then took the first's place, and I shot some photos of him as well.

The animal appeared to be in good health and had a pleasant (maybe a little bored) disposition, and I thought that in addition to being a companion for the men, that she provided at least a little protection on the streets just from her "intimidation factor"! The guys went on and on about how much the dog meant to them, and how great a pet and friend she was to them. Jan, Amy and the boys were a little reluctant to get too close, but when they asked me to pet her, I didn't get any sense that she was afraid or viscious, so I patted her on the back and moved gingerly back out of the way. Then the second man asked me to take a picture of the tattoo he had of the dog on his chest! Not wanting to offend him, I smiled and said I would. The photo is below.

Now I started thinking ahead and wondering how I would get the photos to them when I got the prints made. It occurred to me that they might not have an address or post office box to receive them. The guy with the tattoo said, "Just send them to Red Roses!" I must have looked pretty silly nodding my head saying, "ok, will do" not knowing what the heck he was referring to. They thanked me for taking time to take the photos and went on their way.

Shortly after that the park ranger came up to us and asked if the men were being a nuisance or any trouble. I told her no, in fact, they were very pleasant and just wanted their photo taken with their dog. I asked her what the fellow meant by "Red Roses" and she said he meant Bread and Roses, a homeless advocacy group in Olympia. She said I could get the address from the phone book and mail the photos to the director. She could get them to the men. That seemed like a terrific idea.

Well, last week I printed the photos you see above and mailed them to the Director of Bread and Roses, along with a small check to help with their expenses. If you look on their blog they seem to have the usual non-profit-type problems, namely too much need and not enough money. I will probably send them more from time to time. They appear to do great things from the comments on the weblog.

I really hope the guys get the photos. I will let you know if I get word that they have.

Best to all, Mike Z

PS Browsing the Bread and Roses blog this evening, I watched a very interesting video that two college students had made about B&R called Ready to Listen. I have made the title clickable so you can see it. Very interesting philosophy and how the center has evolved over the years to what it is today.

PPS I received a note from Patricia, a 25-year volunteer at Bread & Roses Love in Action, and also an email that the men had gotten the pictures and really appreciated them. I am glad they got the photos, and wish for them the best.

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