"I do believe that he is a blessing in my life. I do believe that this day was meant to be when we made connection. Because I told the lord that I wanted a little friend. And Blue has been an adventure in my world. He has helped me with sorrowness [sic]. He has been a solider on the battlefield for me. He’s protected my life through six attacks, starting at two years old. He to me is a brother in a dog form."
After weeks of phone tag and missed connections, I meet Diamond at one of her safe spaces, a city library. For a number of reasons, she has asked to remain anonymous. "Every day I’m almost in fear of my life. Even though they see me passing through and my struggle, they’re not really 100% sure about my situation. And I don’t really want to be the poster child for homelessness. Because I do have great faith that the good Lord will work things out for me in the short term. But I do want to represent the homeless women and the pets that are homeless." A Seattle native, she's been in and out of homelessness since 2009 and, as it turns out, today is her birthday.
Diamond first became homeless after struggling with the death of her father and the breakup of her family due to unjust actions by her landlord at the time. "Everything just kind of hit within a year and I just was like, wow. And I think I was in denial of my depression, but I believe I was depressed. And so I kinda slowed down on the world and just kind of dealt with my issues mentally. And so I would talk to God a lot and ask him 'let me know when you find a little friend for me.' Because I wasn’t used to being without my kids. Like, that was another doozy. That was just so abnormal to me. I was an at-home mom. And even though they were at my mother’s I just felt like that was a hard chapter to swallow in my life. And so Blue played a big role in that field too." It was 2012 by the time she found Blue for sale on a corner in downtown Seattle - he was just one month old at the time. She handed over everything she had, $40, and finally had the friend she had been asking for.
There were some things she found she had to adjust to after Blue came into her life. "I had some hard times the first two years due to some shelters. Because there’s women there that are maybe allergic or maybe who’s been attacked, you know, different scenarios regarding dogs. And so I just respectfully voluntarily left. And me and Blue rode the bus for I wanna say at least two winters, just out of respect for the elders at the shelters. And it was very hard, it was critical. It was some good days, it was some sad days, it was some hungry days, it was some fulfilling days, but we got through it. And I never gave up. And there were times where I said maybe I am being selfish. Maybe he should be dropped into a center, but every time Blue would cry and I felt like I was leaving someone close to me and so I never did. He took it like a champ. He learnt early potty training, commands regarding strangers, you know no food from guys, no hand from men, stuff like that, and I went from telling him this almost 100 times a day to maybe now twice a day."
Blue is a particularly special breed of pit bull, and when he was young Diamond had to fend off all kinds of attempts to buy him off of her - she tells me that anyone from drug dealers to mobsters to random strangers and the average passer-by all tried to take him from her. "He’s priceless," she'd tell them, "He is the love of my life. I call him my little brother. I’m not selling him because he’s priceless. And so I guess after a while they gave up because he got bigger. But yeah, we’ve been rollin’ ever since." Blue has protected Diamond's life during six attacks since they've been together on the streets, and, as she describes it, "he keeps a lot of creeps at bay." "I don’t think he realizes how many positions he’s fulfilled, he’s been fulfilling. He’s a cool dog."
As for Blue, Diamond makes sure that he gets all the food and vet care he needs - "I think Blue gets more food than I do," she says. She's kept up with his shots at the Doney Clinic, various community service events, and private vet clinics from time to time. When he's defended her in an attack, she always take him to an emergency vet clinic - "And during walk-ins during these emergency moments they treated him so nice and they accepted giving him free medicine for the moment. And I thought that was a big deal. I really did. Cuz I didn’t’ have the money. It was an unforeseen occurrence and they just, they treated us with respect, consideration."
To help with her own care, Diamond was given a letter listing Blue as her emotional support animal. "Most places are very kind and due to him being a service dog, but I do have issues here and there. It’s like getting to know the staff and they’re comfortable with you and the dog and then new staff comes in and they either retire or move and then they don’t really, they’re not really familiar with you. And so it’s almost like a little static between our world and their world. But so overall I can’t really complain. I’ve been really blessed in that field. We’ve been passed up a couple times by the bus. I know how that feels. I take the salt with the grain. If they only got to know Blue they wouldn’t feel that way... I had to get the dentist to get to know Blue a little bit before they said he can come in."
Today, she's desperately trying to find housing. Her letter designating Blue as an emotional support animal will help with that, but there are still many struggles to overcome. "I feel alone. I feel like I’ve been cheated out of my livelihood. I feel like the system is failing me. I feel like us women are not being acknowledged as much as we should be. I feel like our voices aren’t heard as much as men. Especially when you have a good record – your record is clean, you have no felonies, you have no strikes, you have no scratches, and you still feel like you’re being dragged on the bandwagon. And that’s the most hurtful part of it all. It’s like okay you abide by the laws of the land, you’ve done the best you could through your younger years and it’s almost like you’re not being acknowledged for it when you become homeless... And I stay out of trouble and I stay out the way. I don’t like to be noticed too much… So Blue, he makes sure I keep going. He keeps my heart strong and pulling and going."
When I ask Diamond what she would say to those who believe that people experiencing homelessness can't possibly take care of an animal, she tells me: "I would say I am living proof that that is not so. I would say that if you are a good owner to your pet, your pet will be a great pet to his or her owner. And they are unconditional love. And they give you hope. You give each other hope. And you don’t give up on one another ever. And may I add, until the end of time." A self-described animal-lover, Diamond imagines the days that she has a house and some land where she can shelter rescue animals and maybe even get some livestock. "I really look forward to stuff like that. And you know if I ever did that, I would title my farm True Blue. Those are just future expectations. One day. Somewhere."