10 min read

This Dog Never Stopped Making His Family Smile — Even When They Were Homeless

"Never complained, never gave you sad eyes."

Tara King, of Louisville, Kentucky, was living in an apartment complex in 2014 when she found a little white dog wandering around the property during a thunderstorm.

She brought him inside and gave him a bath and made a little bed in the bottom drawer of her nightstand, where he could stay the night.

Tara Michelle Shanea King

The dog looked emaciated. He only weighed 4 pounds. And he had a wound on the side of his head.

"He wouldn't stop staring at me and wouldn't lay down," King told The Dodo, "so I picked him up and put him in bed with me."

She named the dog Winston.

Tara Michelle Shanea King

The next day, King took the little dog to the local shelter to see if he belonged to someone and had gotten lost. But he had no microchip and there had been no reports of a missing dog. "We decided to take him home and keep him until the owners were found," King said. "Obviously we never found them, so we took him to the vet and he became ours."

Tara Michelle Shanea King

Little did King know that a year later, she would fall on hard times. Because she was strapped for cash, King and her fiancé, Tim, moved in with her mother and stepdad for a little while. Of course, they brought Winston with them. But because of family conflict, the couple and their dog found themselves out on the street.

Tara Michelle Shanea King

King struggled to figure out where they would stay. She didn't even know how she would get to work. "We didn't have a car, no place to go, except to the extra room our second storage unit gave us," King said. "Luckily, it had a couch."

The couple and Winston lived in the storage unit for days. King sometimes borrowed her sister's car to get to work. Other times, she took the bus. Once she had to walk 4 miles in the cold to get back to the storage unit. "We got there; it was 46 degrees and we didn't have a blanket," King said. "We couldn't lock the storage unit and had to be really quiet because they did patrol."

Tara Michelle Shanea King

The little family curled up together on the couch and tried to see the night through. "I tucked Winston inside my shirt and jacket to keep him warm," King said. "I can't stand to see him shiver. And Tim lay next to me with his jacket covering all three of us."

Finally, King got paid and got a hotel room where they could all warm up and shower. "It was actually kind of difficult to find one that was dog friendly," she remembers. "We gave Winston a bath and relaxed."

Tara Michelle Shanea King

King reflects now that she actually had it better than others - she still had a job. She and Tim and Winston managed to go from motel to motel for a while. Finally, she could afford to put a deposit down to rent an apartment - but it wouldn't be ready for three weeks.

The storage unit where King, her fiance and her dog lived for a while | Tara Michelle Shanea King

Somehow, the three of them made their current situation work until the day they could move into their new place.

"We called a taxi to take us back to our storage unit to grab a few items, then to Walmart to get soap, shampoo, conditioner, etc.," she said. "We got to our apartment ... We slept on the floor for a few nights until we could get enough money to move our furniture. But it was warm and [we had] a little food from a dear friend of mine at work. And a shower. You would not believe how amazing a shower is after being in a situation like that."

Tara Michelle Shanea King

King's little family stayed there for a few months. She managed to get a car so that she could get to work. But things became tight with the car payment and once again they'd fallen on hard times - and they lost their lease.

Tara Michelle Shanea King

"We stayed with one of Tim's friend's," King remembers. "That time was so much easier than the first. His apartment didn't allow dogs so we could only walk Winston early in the morning and late at night at the park next to us."

Tara Michelle Shanea King

But Winston never complained. "Never complained, never gave you sad eyes," King said. "He was exhausted like we were and you could see that in his eyes, but no one ever talked about it. We got a new apartment that following February [2016], and have been here ever since."

Tara Michelle Shanea King

Things finally stabilized for the trio. King even started school and got through her first semester. But happy endings aren't always simple. "Once again, as the universe would have it, we are falling on hard times again," she said. "I totaled the car that I have been making payments on and I was let go from my job."

Tara Michelle Shanea King

But King knows she's made it through hard times before. "I have made it this far and I don't intend to give up yet ... If I can help anyone in any way through my voice then I will," she said.

So she agreed to share her story about how her dog has helped her through her bouts of homelessness.

Tara Michelle Shanea King

"Winston has helped me through every step. He was more company than anyone can imagine," King said. "He would follow me to the end of the earth."

Tara Michelle Shanea King

And why wouldn't he? She has done the same for him.

Tara Michelle Shanea King
Tara Michelle Shanea King

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