GREENSBORO, N.C. – As the saying goes, a dog is a man’s best friend. And it couldn’t be more true for Donald Dickerson.
“Every day he looks at me, I know I am loved. I named him Duude because that’s my dude,” Dickerson said. “We have a close, close connection.”
That connection has strengthened over the past months.
“He’s been hanging in there with me,” Dickerson said.
Dickerson and Duude are homeless and spend their days and nights in the woods at a campsite.
“I could have already had a place to live, but they wanted me to foster my dog. I’m not doing that,” Dickerson said.
To make matter worse, Dickerson has a swollen knee.
“It’s painful. I have to walk on this hill every day,” Dickerson said.
Dickerson needs a partial knee replacement, but while everything was lined up months ago, doctors said they couldn’t operate yet.
“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,” Dickerson said.
He has not been able to secure a place that will take both him and Duude.
“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,” he said.
Lane Miller, a new friend of Dickerson’s, admires Dickerson for caring so much about someone other than himself. It’s a rare quality, according to Miller, who used to see Dickerson along her route to work every day.
“I have been seeing this gentleman almost for the last year. I could see his smile through the mask,” Miller said. “And that’s probably what did it for me.”
Over the months, Miller and Dickerson began a friendship. That’s when Miller wanted to step in to help out by reaching out to several organizations and agencies.
“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,” she said.
While Dickerson and Duude wait for options, they know they have each other.
“If it wasn’t for [Duude], I would have given up,” Dickerson said. “If I have to continue to be homeless, and not get my surgery, I will do that because I’m not giving him up.”
Greensboro’s Volunteer Center of the Triad is now working to connect with other agencies to help give Dickerson and Duude a place to call home so he can have his surgery.
Dickerson is also trying to fund a temporary stay at a motel via a GoFundMe account.