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 always has Willow with her, and she’s popular among CCC 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
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 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
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
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
Barb and Pippin
Barb has been bringing Pippin everywhere with her 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
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
Central City Concern is ending homelessness by treating the whole person, as a person, and that includes welcoming their pets.