Bernard Holland got his dog, Oreo, when she was 4-months-old.
“When I got her, she was so skinny,” he says. “You could see every bone in her body.”
Now, two years later, the dog has become his best pal.
Even when due to unforeseen circumstances Holland became homeless, he refused to give up on Oreo. When Indianapolis experienced a deep freeze so cold temperatures were below zero, he knew he could spend the night at his sister’s house. But Oreo wasn’t welcome, so he stayed with Oreo.
Luckily, Horizon House outreach worker Melissa Burgess and Ben Bierlein, owner of Wigglebutt Doghouse came along. Bierlein offered to take care of Oreo during the cold snap and until Holland found permanent housing. He even paid for her to get up to date on shots.
“She’s safe, and I know they’re taking good care of her,” said Holland during a visit to Horizon House. “I can tell Ben has a passion for animals.”
Bierlein saw the same passion in Holland.
“The real story here is about a man, although down on his luck and living in a tent, who would not give up on his dog. The fact that he was willing to gut it out in sub-zero temperatures because he didn’t want to leave his dog — that’s pretty powerful,” he said.
Oreo has made several four-legged friends, but nothing compares to the excitement she has when her best friend visits. Holland goes to Wigglebutt either on the Horizon House van or via the city bus.
Though still living in a tent, Holland is now currently enrolled in Opportunity Knocks classes through Horizon House. He hopes to find a job as a painter or janitor. Horizon House is also trying to help him find affordable housing.
“My plan is to get a job, get a place, reunite with Oreo and live out the rest of our lives together,” Holland said. “I’m truly blessed. My dog is taken care of, and I’ve got enough blankets to keep me warm.”
We think Oreo is truly blessed, too.