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Community Unites Around Heartbroken Homeless Vet Looking to Give Up His Best Friend of 9 Years, So She Can Have a Better Life

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Despite being the only thing that matters to him, a homeless man seeks a better life for his dog of nine years. However, a passionate community is rallying to keep them together.

Kelly Glander, 23, had finished a Crossfit class in Richmond, Virginia when she saw a homeless man on the side of the street an elder boxer.

Named Mike, the man explained that his dog, Nala, was all he had. Glander writes in a Facebook post:

“He told me about how he has lost all of his family, including the recent death of his wife and daughter in a car accident. He lost his closest friends in the 1970s in Vietnam,” she writes. “He talked about how he had nothing left to live for except for his dog. He got her when she was 8 weeks old as a puppy, a pure bred boxer. They have spent the last 9 years together and she has been his only friend and constant companion.”

Glander, a volunteer in the rescue community, offered to help him but with only $4 on her, her giving was limited.  The only thing Mike wanted was for his dog to be taken care of, so Glander went to the store and returned with food for Nala.

Related: Homeless Man Can’t Afford to Treat Dog’s Deadly Sickness, So Stranger Offers to Pay for It All

What little Mike had on him, most of it was for his dog. “His bag was full of things for her, only a t-shirt and bag of chips in it for himself,” Glander states, adding that that was par for the course for Mika and Nala. “He told me about how she got shot a few years ago and he spent all his money to save her and showed me her scars. He then showed me his scars where he had been shot while serving his country.”

But despite this bond, Mike desperately wanted Glander to take Nala and give her a better life, something he felt he couldn’t do at the time.

“He told me that she was all that mattered to him in life and that he needed to know she would be well cared for should anything happen to him, as he felt his life was ending, “Glander writes, adding that his life had gotten so bad, he didn’t think he could go on. “He was planning on killing himself tonight because he had nothing in this life but pain and he couldn’t even care properly for his dog, his one friend anymore.”

Glander made the promise, she will try her hardest to help both of them.

“While I could tell this was breaking his heart, he asked me to find her a home. It broke my heart to watch him say this, tears running down his face, but I could tell that he meant it out of love for her. All I could do was give him a hug and tell him I would do my best to make sure she would be ok.”

When she left that night, Glander was completely moved by Mike and his love for his companion.

“I got in my car and cried the whole way home. It is incredible the things people go through in life and the love they can have for a pet even in their darkest hours. This man had lost everything, his life, his family, but he was willing to give up his best friend if that was what was best for her.”

Since the original post went up, it has been shared thousands of times, with Glander and the online community rallying to help Mike and Nala. The pair has been provided a dog-friendly hotel where they can relax, get cleaned up and figure out the next step. Thousands have offered to step up and donate, provide foster care for Nala and amenities for the pair, but Mike and Glander are taking one thing at a time, as the whole situation can be a bit overwhelming.

Related: San Francisco Man Opens His Heart to Neighbors’ Homeless Dogs, Feeding Them Every Day

One thing Glander does want is for people to respect one and other.

“I spent my senior year of college writing my honors thesis on the homeless veteran population in Richmond. They all shared similar sentiments of people not believing their plight and people treating them like they were less than human — stripping them of their dignity, authenticity, and agency in life, or straight up ignoring them and what they had to say,” she tells This Dog’s Life.  They all said to me that they are no different than anyone else, no matter what they had been through- they still feel happiness, sadness, joy, pain. People just don’t notice or celebrate it in the same way when it is someone from a marginalized group.”

She adds that this post has brought a tremendous amount of attention to a situation that is in no way unique to her city, and we should all focus on solving the problem, or at least lending a helping hand.

“I hope people will use this as a point of awareness that this is happening all around us. In our own cities and neighborhoods. Not just Richmond. Not just Mike,” Glander tells us. “I want people to go out and find someone who needs a hug and a listening ear. Ask them how they are. Listen to their story, whatever story they decide to tell. Make them feel human again.”

To follow their story, a Facebook page has been set up called, “A Helping Hand for Mike & Nala”Here is the post in its entirety:

Yesterday on my way to crossfit, I passed a homeless man sitting on a street corner with his dog. Time was not on my side, and due to rush hour traffic, I was unable to maneuver to that side of the street. When I was done at crossfit, they were gone. Tonight on my way home, I saw them again and was able to stop. I parked the car, got out and walked over to them. I only had $4 in my wallet, which I offered and I asked him what I could do for them. The first thing he said to me was that he needed help with his dog as he couldn’t afford to feed her and that was all that mattered to him. I offered to go buy her some and he gratefully accepted. I left and came back with a bag of dog food and some canned food as a treat for his pup. I then sat on the ground with him for a little over an hour listening to what he had to say, which I am still trying to process and articulate.

Nala,his dog, is the most important being in his life. He told me about how he has lost all of his family, including the recent death of his wife and daughter in a car accident. He lost his closest friends in the 1970s in Vietnam. He told me how they died right in front of him. He talked about how as a homeless person, no one cares. People drive by and don’t even notice them sitting there, let alone stop to talk. He showed me the ticker he got for j-walking on his way to his camp last night. The ticket is for $110. He talked about how he had nothing left to live for except for his dog. He got her when she was 8 weeks old as a puppy, a pure bred boxer. They have spent the last 9 years together and she has been his only friend and constant companion. He told me about how she got shot a few years ago and he spent all his money to save her and showed me her scars. He then showed me his scars where he had been shot while serving his country. He asked me to take Nala with me. He told me that she was all that mattered to him in life and that he needed to know she would be well cared for should anything happen to him, as he felt his life was ending. He told me he could see it in my eyes that I would care for her and love her like he did. He told me that before I came to talk to him, he was planning on killing himself tonight because he had nothing in this life but pain and he couldn’t even care properly for his dog, his one friend anymore. His bag was full of things for her, only a t-shirt and bag of chips in it for himself. He told me how he feels invisible and worthless He told me that if I hadn’t taken the time out of my night to talk to him and give him a hug, that he would have ended it all, but because I treated him like a friend, he felt like God had sent him an angel- a sign that his life was meant to last a little longer.

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Before I left, he asked me to promise him that I would help his dog and be her angel. And I made that promise. I’d like to help him too. I have his cell number and he told me where he plans on sitting for the next week. I am working on finding some help for him as he has a lot of baggage he has carried with him and he deserves to find some peace in his life. The one thing I KNOW I can help him with is Nala. I am going back to the spot tomorrow with a dog tag that will have my name and contact information on it, so that if anything happens to him, they will contact me. While I could tell this was breaking his heart, he asked me to find her a home. It broke my heart to watch him say this, tears running down his face, but I could tell that he meant it out of love for her. All I could do was give him a hug and tell him I would do my best to make sure she would be ok. I made him a deal that I would make arrangements for her should he need them, but told him that I could tell he needed his best friend by his side and that I did not want to split them up and therefore could not take her with me tonight. I promised I would call, and come back and check on them.

I got in my car and cried the whole way home. It is incredible the things people go through in life and the love they can have for a pet even in their darkest hours. This man had lost everything, his life, his family, but he was willing to give up his best friend if that was what was best for her.

So now I am working on figuring out how to help them. He told me he would be ok as long as Nala was ok and loved. I am working on finding some stuff for him, but I also need to follow through on my promise to make arrangements for her, someone to adopt her, or a rescue to take her when he needs it. Nala is a 9 year old pure bred boxer (he carries her papers with him). He has had her since she was a baby. She is spayed, UTD on shots and licensed in the city of Richmond. She had on her vaccination and license tags. She was shot 2x when she was younger, once in the chest and once in the foot. He spent all he had at the vet to save her. She is very affectionate and spent the whole time I was with them practically sitting in my lap to be rubbed. They are located in Richmond, VA. So here I am looking for a rescue that would be willing to work with Mike and Nala on a solution to make sure she has placement and will be cared for should he stand firm on the decision to give her up. It would be ideal for them to stay together, but with the precariousness of living on the streets, his situation and ability to care for her could change at any moment, leaving her abandoned- which was his biggest concern.

I am going back to find him tomorrow and will be approaching him about a few different options that have been suggested ranging from financial assistance to care for her, foster for the time being, to different service organizations in the area. I am reaching out to some local service organizations for suggestions as well.

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