This cute little dog is homeless. Her name is Princess Elsa Louise, but we call her Elsa. Since 18th May when her owner, Carrie, left a violent partner, she has been living on the streets.
I met Elsa at the Salvation Army Citadel in Gloucester last Monday. Carrie collapsed in the porch, suffering the onset of a diabetic episode. She was brought in, stabilised, and asked where she needed to go.
So Elsa and I accompanied Carrie, who is sick, remember, on a merry-go round of visits here and there to get some help. First stop, the Nelson Trust in Brunswick Square. A woman's charity, working hard to find Elsa a home. Carrie could be housed, but Elsa? Not proving easy. And as Elsa won't leave Carrie, that's a problem. So, no luck there.
"Carrie's blood glucose level is over 30, I say, may we call an ambulance?" No. "There's a walk-in clinic in Eastgate St. Take her there." OK, so Elsa and I drive Carrie to the clinic. There's a security guard on the door.
"Sorry. No dogs." Elsa rolls her eyes. Carrie has a note from a doctor. Elsa is an alert dog. She will lick Carrie awake if she begins to slip into a coma.
The man in uniform can't take a doctor's word for it. "They'll send you a certificate" He says. "Well, that's not possible is it? " I ask, "Carrie has no address to send it to ..."
"You can go in," says the security guard a few minutes later. I smile at him. He'd made an effort. "Thank you!"
By now Carrie's blood -glucose level has been critical for more than twenty minutes.
"I'm sorry," says the Receptionist. "You can't be seen here, you have to go to the Homeless Healthcare Team in Great Western Road."
So Elsa and I drive Carrie round to the Homeless Healthcare Team. I have known the staff who work there, for some time, as Gloucester City Mission, that I volunteer for, shares the building. These people are AMAZING. It's lunchtime, and the clinic is closed, but Leslie checks Carrie's bloods and fetches the doctor straight away.
"You should have sent for an ambulance immediately!" The doctor is very concerned. Next time, I'll know, I think.
So the ambulance comes and Carrie is distraught. "Who will take Elsa??"
And Elsa, the homeless chihuahua, comes home with me.
After a few more misadventures, Elsa returns to Carrie:they are now in temporary Bed and Breakfast accommodation in the city.
"I even have a tv!" Carrie is ecstatic.
When I ask Carrie if the owner knows she has her dog with her, she becomes a bit vague. I have my doubts, but, fingers-crossed. To be evicted for breaking rules renders you, 'intentionally homeless" and back on the streets indefinitely.
Please, God, no.