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This International Dog Day, Meet the Dogs of CCC

Thursday, August 26, 2021

This International Dog Day we’re celebrating the dogs of Central City Concern. Dogs are welcome at CCC in our health care clinics, housing and more.  

Our patients experiencing homelessness might not have a safe place to leave their pets during an appointment, so allowing animals into our clinics is one way we make our services more accessible. Other patients bring their dogs primarily for emotional support. Billie Kay Stafford, operations manager at Old Town Clinic, says: “A lot of patients see [Old Town Clinic] as their family, and their pets are just another part of their family.” Many of our housing residents who live with dogs find that they improve their mental health and give them purpose and routine during hard times.  

Meet a few of the dogs of CCC! 

Shirley and Willow

Shirley is a patient at Old Town Clinic, and always brings her dog Willow along to appointments. Willow is popular among both other patients and staff. “A lot of people want to pet her,” Shirley says. Willow is more than just a pet to Shirley — she also provides emotional support. “She picks me up when I don’t feel good. When I have bad days, she’s right there.” 

Willow’s favorite toy: A squeaky lamb 

Willow’s favorite treat: Pepperoni sticks 

Willow’s favorite thing to do: Go on walks 

Shirley and her dog, Willow

Aretha and Dolly

Aretha adopted her dog Dolly two years ago when she was living on the streets of Phoenix, Arizona. At the time, Aretha was using heroin and meth. Wanting a better life for Dolly was one of the reasons Aretha decided it was time to pursue substance use treatment. “It wasn’t fair to her to be out there, living like that,” she says. Aretha came to Portland to be closer to her son and got treatment at CCC’s Blackburn Center. She now lives at Blackburn Center and works for CCC, and Dolly continues to inspire her to stay in recovery.  

“I have to be responsible for someone else besides myself. I can’t be on drugs. I have to take care of myself, I have to go to work, because I have this dog depending on me,” Aretha says. As for Dolly, she’s thriving too. “She’s the happiest dog I’ve ever seen.” 

Dolly’s favorite toy: Bones 

Dolly’s favorite treat: Bones 

Dolly’s favorite thing to do: Play with other dogs 

Aretha and her dog, Dolly

Shawn and Odyn

Shawn’s wife adopted a puppy for him early on in his recovery, and he named him Odyn. Six months later, Odyn is growing bigger every day. Shawn and Odyn live at CCC’s Blackburn Center, and Odyn helps Shawn stay committed to recovery. “I don’t want to use around him, and have that negatively impact him,” said Shawn. Odyn gives him a purpose every day and helps him cope with anxiety and depression. “He’s very in tune with what my needs are. If I’m struggling, he knows and he takes care of me,” says Shawn.  

Odyn’s favorite toy: Tennis balls 

Odyn’s favorite treat: Chicken 

Odyn’s favorite thing to do: Snuggle 

Shawn and his dog, Odyn

Johnny and Temo

Johnny adopted Temo 13 years ago, when Temo was only 10 weeks old, and they’ve been inseparable ever since. Johnny first got connected with services at CCC through Puentes, which provides bilingual and bicultural services for the Hispanic/Latinx community. Now he and Temo live together at Blackburn Center. Johnny’s wife died in 2015, and Temo has helped him through his grief. Johnny calls him, “my companion.”  

Temo’s favorite toy: A little mouse dog toy 

Temo’s favorite treat: Bacon 

Temo’s favorite thing to do: Go on walks 

Johnny and his dog, Temo

Barb and Pippin

Barb is a patient at Old Town Clinic and has been bringing Pippin with her to appointments since she adopted her almost three years ago. Having Pippin has been therapeutic for Barb, and in some cases, even lifesaving. “When I get seriously depressed, Pippin keeps me going…when I have suicidal ideations, my first thought is, what would happen to Pippin?” Pippin’s positive energy brings joy to Barb’s life, and even helps her connect with others, because people always comment on her when they’re out. 

Pippin’s favorite toy: A mouse cat toy 

Pippin’s favorite treat: Duck jerky 

Pippin’s favorite thing to do: Play catch with her mouse 

Barb with her dog, Pippin

Goldie and Charlie

Goldie has lived at Blackburn Center for eight months and adopted Charlie shortly after moving in when he was only two months old. Charlie has been a huge benefit to Goldie as she’s been on her recovery journey. She feels motivated to stay drug-free because, in her words, “What would happen to him if I were to go to jail?” He keeps her company, keeps her active (they go to the park together every day) and helps her cope with depression. “He’s made my life amazing,” Goldie says. 

Charlie’s favorite toy: A rubber ball 

Charlie’s favorite treat: All of them 

Charlie’s favorite thing to do: Greet people 

Goldie and her dog, Charlie

Central City Concern is ending homelessness by treating the whole person, as a person, and that includes welcoming their pets.

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