Donald Dickerson and his dog Duude are currently experiencing homelessness, so the two spend their nights at a campsite in the woods of Greensboro, North Carolina. Having Duude as a companion has helped Dickerson immensely, and the two have “a very close connection.”
As their campsite is up a hill, it puts a strain on Dickerson’s swollen knee every time he has to walk up there. This painful problem could be solved with surgery, but doctors won’t allow him to receive it without proper housing lined up.
Right now, stable housing isn’t really an option for these two, especially since what is available to Dickerson means he’d have to give up Duude to live there. Dickerson told Fox 8:
“I could have already had a place to live, but they wanted me to foster my dog. I’m not doing that.”
The Dog Comes First
According to Dickerson, he and Duude have only been apart for one single day since he got the dog. Dickerson says Duude has been “hanging in there with [him,]” and his dog is extremely important to him.
“If it wasn’t for [Duude], I would have given up,” he explained.
Even though he had partial knee replacement surgery lined up, the lack of permanent housing prompted the hospital to postpone it.
“When the doctors found out I was homeless they said we have to postpone it until you find a place to live because someone has to come out and take care of you.”
A friend of Dickerson’s, Lane Miller, reached out to several organizations on his behalf. Miller also found the problem much more difficult to resolve than it should be.
“I was upset to know he didn’t have a place to go but he was approved for surgery, so I started reaching out and I hit a lot of brick walls.”
For now, Dickerson’s knee continues to plague him, and a tent is what he and Duude call home. This is the choice the unhoused man was forced to make.
“I cannot give him up. If I have to be homeless and go without my surgery and continue to go through the pain, I will, cause I will not leave him.”
Dickerson’s Motivations Make Sense
Dickerson set up a GoFundMe page, hoping to raise a modest amount to pay for a motel room he can stay in after his surgery. The fundraiser has since surged way past its $1,000 goal, amassing over $43,000.
Dog lovers able to contribute left notes in support of Dickerson’s commitment to Duude. One donor, Jennifer Jackson, wrote:
“Donald, as I sit and read your story, I truly get it. Duude is your day to day strength; your rock to lean on when you’re tired; your will to take on life challenges; and the very reason you want to exist. He just happens to be a Duude that loves you unconditionally.”
Another contributor to the cause, Antonios Sideris, shared:
“Too often people discard their pets because they consider them property and not family. You know the difference and I hope you two have nothing but good luck going forward.”
Fox 8 reported that Greensboro’s Volunteer Center of the Triad is also working to find this pair housing. Dickerson and Duude need each other, and that shouldn’t stand in the way of anything else.