Nearly a year ago, I told you about a small act of kindness to a homeless man and his corgi that had grown into something much larger for all those it touched.
It pulled at a lot of your heartstrings — in good part, I think, because dog love runs deep, and corgi lovers are particularly ardent.
I told you about the man and his corgi and the couple who had stepped in to help them early last March, less than two weeks before COVID-19 shut down California.
And, despite how many more people have found themselves in dire straits in the ensuing crisis, I’ve never stopped hearing from those eager for the latest on how dog and man were faring.
I’m glad to say that the update I’m bringing you at long last may offer some respite from the current grim news. It gives me pleasure to say, too, that much of the good I have to share springs directly from the generosity of readers.
Still, that’s really not my reason for telling it. I do so in this time of widespread need to reiterate the central point I set out to make in my first corgi column — about the enormous potential benefit to both givers and receivers of doing something, however little, to help others.
But first, a recap.
The corgi I introduced you to last March had been having a hard time since his person lost his good job, then his home. Over four tough years, man and dog had ended up homeless — and neither had adjusted easily.
The corgi’s person had a PhD and had worked for years in a highly specialized field with few job openings. He was earning six figures in the job he lost, and when he couldn’t find another one, his circumstances steadily worsened until he and his corgi no longer had a place to live. They bounced around, with stops at a group home and a single-room occupancy hotel on skid row in downtown L.A.
The man started driving for Uber while he tried to teach himself skills for a new line of work. When he no longer could make payments on his car, he rented cars from Uber by the hour — working longer for less gain, with less time to spend prepping for a new career and less chance of climbing out of his hole.
And all the while, as he reached out to social-service organizations for short-term emergency housing, many doors remained closed because he had a dog.
Which is where the initial act of kindness came in.
Loath to be alone, but desperate, the man wrote a Craigslist post in the fall of 2019 asking for someone to step in and help him by fostering his corgi for a few months. A friend of Ted and Sandy Rogers of Hollywood forwarded the post to them, thinking that helping the dog might also help them as they grieved the loss late that summer of their own beloved corgi, Sienna, due to cancer.
Ted has diabetes, and Sienna alerted him with licks when his blood sugar dipped low. Sienna had been the center of their lives.
The foster corgi they took into their home was traumatized from all the instability. Ted and Sandy made it their mission to restore his sense of calm and security.
When a man loses his job and becomes homeless, a couple fostering his dog lends a hand.
Meanwhile, the corgi’s person showed up on Sunday afternoons to visit — and while he and his dog cuddled and played, he gradually opened up and told Ted and Sandy all that he’d been through. He also needed their emotional support, and they gave it to him.
The corgi’s person, I have to stop and say here, continues to feel a good deal of shame for his fall. Even now, after the pandemic has imploded so many other previously secure lives. For that reason, he continues to ask me to maintain his anonymity — which I do, as I pray that he will stop beating himself up over time.
When I wrote the first column about him, he was still searching for a job, still separated from his corgi. I asked if anyone could help him find a stable home or a job in data science, the field he was trying to enter. I also said I hoped that soon he and his corgi would be reunited and that Ted and Sandy would find a new dog to love.
I put those wishes out to the universe, which instantly began delivering.
Some people sent the corgi’s person loving notes, telling him that what had happened to him could happen to any of us. Others donated to a GoFundMe campaign set up to make his life easier. And within hours of the column’s appearance, multiple people had written with job leads and offers to help him with housing.
One of the first came from Mike Kilroy, a real estate investor who offered the corgi and his person — sight unseen, no strings attached — a studio apartment in Palm Springs, rent-free for a year. Whenever Ted and Sandy wanted to visit, he said, he’d give them a free place to stay, too — and same for me if I wanted to come see how dog and man were doing.
“It was something I could do, so why not?” Kilroy told me simply when I asked him about it this week. “It’s all well and good to talk about solving your problems and moving ahead. But you can’t do that without a stable base.”
At last count, more than 36,000 homeless people were living in Los Angeles, nearly 59,000 in the county. But how can we actually help the homeless? What practical aid can we offer?
The warmth of the offer proved irresistible, even if it meant relocation. On March 22, just a few days after California’s stay-at-home order kicked in, the man went to get his corgi from Ted and Sandy and take him to their new Palm Springs home.
Around the same time, he got a job offer in data science. And even though he was told that, because of closures, it would not start until May, he had more than $4,000 in GoFundMe donations to help tide him over until his first paycheck.
Ted and Sandy, meanwhile, found themselves once again dogless and missing their foster corgi terribly. Then Sandy lost the job she’d had for 18 years, doing accounts payable for a suddenly shuttered office. (Any leads, anyone? You’ve come through before.)
Their stint at fostering had readied them for a new dog — and they wanted to rescue a corgi in need. But once the pandemic hit, people everywhere suddenly seemed to want a pet for companionship. When their corgi rescue searches came up empty, they started looking at other breeds and on the websites of corgi breeders.
Many corgi enthusiasts reached out. Ted and Sandy felt like rock stars as their fame spread online through corgi groups. One corgi lover who had read the column recognized Ted, Sandy and the foster corgi at Trader Joe’s. Another who works in tech started trying simultaneously to find a job for the foster corgi’s person and a corgi for Ted and Sandy.
Julie, who for privacy reasons asked that I use her first name only, said she’s active with a local corgi rescue group that, pre-pandemic, organized frequent social hikes. She’d also researched breeders when looking for her own corgi, Truffle (who has her own Instagram profile), and had learned of one in Wyoming who is the friend of a friend she’d met running overnight relay races.
One Saturday in July, she saw a newly listed corgi puppy on that Wyoming breeder’s site and immediately told Ted and Sandy. They put down a deposit that day. And because Ted and Sandy don’t drive and feared public transportation because of the virus, Julie and her running friend did a relay of sorts to bring the 3-month-old corgi to them.
Julie’s friend picked the dog up in Wyoming and drove her to Utah. Julie rented a car and drove from L.A. to Utah to bring the puppy to Ted and Sandy. Ted, Sandy and Julie met for the first time in person on delivery — and realized they were neighbors. Now Ted and Sandy’s puppy, Tazzy, short for Tasmanian Devil, sometimes meets Truffle for neighborhood play dates.
I met Tazzy the other day. She smooched me, as she smooches everyone she meets, person and dog alike. She zooms around Ted and Sandy’s apartment, causes havoc, destroys toys and delivers endless joy. Ted and Sandy are thoroughly smitten, even though she likes to pull Sandy’s hair.
As for dog and man in Palm Springs, the corgi’s person sent me a selfie he took when they moved back in together that could serve as a visual definition of love. It hasn’t all been easy. He initially felt lonely in a new city in a pandemic. His first job didn’t last because he failed to get security clearance within six months — likely due to the many moves in his recent history.
But then a friend in his old field asked him for a job reference — and he asked her if she’d return the favor for the job she was leaving. He got that job. He’s now back to six figures. He credits his rent-free year with giving him the grounding to be capable of leaping at the chance when offered. He, Ted and Sandy text back and forth every day. He paid the expenses for Tazzy’s travels from Wyoming to Hollywood. He credits Ted and Sandy with rescuing him just as much as they rescued his corgi.
And he credits every single person who offered up words of encouragement, donations, positive thoughts, advice and assistance with playing a part in his comeback. He said he wished I could name every name.
Alas, I can’t — I can’t even name his — but I offer my thanks to all who helped him in so many ways.
Watch L.A. Times Today at 7 p.m. on Spectrum News 1 on Channel 1 or live stream on the Spectrum News App. Palos Verdes Peninsula and Orange County viewers can watch on Cox Systems on channel 99.
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